interns and contracts and jobs, oh my


As some of you know, landing a job in the museum world is pretty darn tough. Even when the economy isn’t in the toilet, there are tons of qualified, intelligent, and eager would-be museum professionals all competing for the same handful of curatorial positions. Throw in lay-offs, unfilled jobs, a pack of baby boomers reluctant to part with income and benefits (and who can blame them, really), and a potential federal hiring freeze, and it’s harder than ever for those of us with brand-new MAs to get our feet in the door.

So we become interns and contractors, and some of us stay in a sort-of-employed limbo for quite a while, establishing contacts with grown-up curators (as I like to call them) and excitedly apply for the next Big Opportunity. I am excited to report that as of October 1, 2010, I will no longer be an Intern, but a Contractor at the Museum where I’ve been spending three days a week for the last two years. Quite the step up, no? I’m pretty sure the pay doesn’t change, and I know my supervisors will still call me Sarah the Intern…but I really hope I don’t have to give up my Intern Badge. It gets me discounts at the bookstore and my picture was taken on a Good Hair Day. Oh well; with a little luck, a little room in the budget, and a little office space, maybe I will get a full-time job there sooner rather than later.

Today was also my last day at the Historic House Museum where I have been a Curatorial Intern since June. I spent four months conducting research on some really great topics for an exhibition scheduled for 2011, as well as assisting with public programs, observing the operations of a small historic house museum, and getting really interested in library science and archival work. Nerd’s paradise! But at 5 pm, I replaced the last of my collection files, packed up my fan, and said goodbye to other museum and history nerds who created a great work environment. Sorry, cheesy. But so true! Every time I hear about someone who had a really bad internship, I always feel really grateful to my supervisors over the last several years. Even though I may not be on their level professionally and academically, or personally close, I’ve never felt belittled, sad, too young, or like Just The Intern Girl. So thank you, all my supervisors, for being awesome teachers and humans! And if you’re stuck in an unfortunate position right now, just remember: you won’t be an intern forever, and when you get a Grown-Up Job of your very own, you’ll know how important it is to be a Kind And Competent Boss.

Historic House Museum where I just wrapped up an internship

I believe I’ll round out the evening with a nice mug of tea and the October issue of Cooking Light. I’m excited about the Peanut Butter Banana Bread on the cover.

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