ISSUE 3 | VOLUME 1 | 2007

May 17, 2007

In this Issue:

A Day in The Life

The Burning Question

Career Talk

Add to My Vocab

Finding a Job in the Arts Workshop May 23, 2007!

Featured Job:
Gallery Sales Associate/Assistant

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How are you "growing in place?" We want to hear from you!

Dear Readers,

I’m just back from the American Association of Museums meeting in Chicago where there was much talk and considerable sessions devoted to employability and career mobility, especially for emerging arts and culture professionals and those with 1-5 years experience. Many people wondered what they should be doing now to enhance the quality of their current jobs and how to become more “marketable,” to increase future job prospects. “Growing in place” is a concept that describes activities you can undertake right now in your current position to enrich your job and prepare for your next one. Here are a few suggestions:

• Speak with your human resources representative in your current organization and ask what type of training or professional development courses are available for employees. If there are none, urge your organization to start such a program.

• Enroll in professional development courses outside of your job to enhance your skills and knowledge. It’s also a great way to network and learn about other roles in other organizations.

• Develop your reputation and expand your network of contacts by joining local and national committees in your area of expertise to build your leadership experience.

• Expand your career options. A job may not be available immediately at an arts or culture organization, but there are a myriad of companies that service the industry and hire people with similar skill sets. These include architects; design and facility planning firms; educational and outreach development companies, and vendors/suppliers specific to your field.

• Create exposure for yourself and your expertise. Write articles for publications. Participate in online discussion forums particular to your field. Attend conferences. In your off-hours become an online reporter, or start your own blog devoted to the professional issues you care about.

• Take charge of your career!

Geri Thomas, President

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Send your resume and cover letter to Geri Thomas at [email protected]


There are five ways to create more job mobility in your career:

Move up
Approach HR or your supervisor about the best career options for you and apply for positions at a higher level.

Stay where you are
Think of what you can do to enhance your skills or expand your current job to “grow in place.” Interact with colleagues in other departments with whom you’re not familiar.

Move across
A lateral move to a position at the same level but in a different area can often be just what you need to reinvigorate yourself and identify a new career path.

Move down
Apply for a job that may be a step down from your current one, but that may make you happier and give you experience in new areas.

Move out
Only you can decide if it’s the right time to leave your job.


Do . . . Realize that the arts and culture sector is highly competitive and continues to become even more so. Seek the support and opinion of people whose ideas and ideals you value.

Don’t . . . Burn bridges. You never know when you will meet that person with whom you may have differed. You can learn something from any interaction and should try to end relationships in a positive manner.
Do . . . Take measured risks. When you become stuck in your job or yearn for something more, expose yourself to new technologies, people, ideas. Offer to give a presentation, take a co-worker you don’t know out to lunch, or learn a new software program.
Don't . . . Forget to carry a professional business card. Whether you have one from your organization or create your own, be prepared for networking opportunities.
Do . . . Generate even more options by asking five different people in a variety of fields and positions what they would do in your current situation. Other perspectives can enhance your understanding and create ideas for action.


A DAY IN THE LIFE: Developing Potential
A snapshot of how different arts and culture professionals are shaping their careers.

After four years as a Development Officer for a Midwestern museum, Stewart was eager to take his career to the next step by managing a staff. But his employer was unable to offer an expanded role, and related jobs in the area were scarce and highly competitive. Stewart wanted to build his leadership skills to be able to apply for higher positions with more responsibilities. He decided to stay at his place of employment and see what he could do to “grow in place” by creating the museum’s first internship program for the development department.

With the assistance of the Education & Outreach Director, Stewart established a partnership with the local university’s Museum Studies program. The internship offered students basic training in databases, grant writing and research. This was attractive to the museum as a way to promote their educational role in the community and identify new talent from the school’s burgeoning program.

Once three interns were signed on, Stewart began supervising them to find possible grants and emerging financial aid sources for the museum. At the same time, he enrolled in a weekend Management 101 course through the university’s continuing education program.

During the six week internship, Stewart was exposed to new experiences such as conducting team meetings, evaluating individual performance, and providing clear direction to each intern’s unique communication style. He also found a mentor in his management course instructor, Teresa, with whom he spoke weekly about the challenges that his new leadership role entailed.

At the end of the internship program, Stewart reflected on his experience and the new skills he had learned. He realized that he really liked balancing the people and process issues that managers face. Today, Stewart remains at the museum as Director of the Development Department, where he manages a staff of six and serves on the Board of the university’s capital campaign committee.

Increase your understanding of common terms used in career development.

How is employability different than job mobility?

Employability is the continual acquisition or upgrading of your skills and knowledge in an effort to stay competitive in the job market. Keeping up to date with the latest technical skills or industry trends, for example, increase your ability to be employed in the future, even if you are not currently looking for other employment.

Job mobility has two meanings. Literally, it means your ability to relocate or travel to perform your job. Its more common definition, however, is your capacity, tendency or intent to freely move from one job to another.

Deciphering the true motives behind interview questions.

Question: Out of all the applicants we’ve interviewed, why should we hire you for this position?

Motive: With this common question, the interviewer wants to hear how you position yourself, how you differentiate yourself from your colleagues, and what you identify as the reasons why you should get the job over everyone else. To understand your strengths and truly know what sets you apart, reflect on your abilities often and solicit feedback from others regularly.

To answer this question, first acknowledge that there are many qualified candidates that the interviewer or hiring manager has met with. This lets the interviewer know that you respect her judgment for who she has interviewed so far. Second, state no more than three specific skills or qualities that both you and other people have highlighted as your strengths.

Consider this sample answer:

“I’m sure you’ve met many qualified applicants for this important position and I appreciate the opportunity to be considered among them. What I feel differentiates me are three things. First, as the Program Director of a large foundation for eight years, I developed an effective process that evaluated grantees and identified new areas of critical support. Second, my existing relationships with community and government constituents would help generate new partnerships quickly after my hiring. Third, colleagues have commented positively on my ability to manage projects effectively under strict deadlines and tight budgets.”

Your career questions and issues.

I truly love my current job, which I've had for almost three years. However, I struggle with knowing where I have the potential to be in this institution in the future. I've tried to discuss my future with my supervisor, but was unable to correctly express what I needed. She thought I meant how I could modify my current job, not how I could advance. I believe women, in particular, struggle with how to inquire about career paths. While I love my current job, I don't want to do the same tasks or be at the same level (manager) for the next thirty years!
--Instructional Services Manager, Texas

Many professionals reach a point in their current job where they don’t see a future either in their position or with their organization.

It’s worth having another discussion with your supervisor and preparing a brief written agenda for this important meeting. This conveys the purpose of the discussion in advance and gives the person time to reflect rather than being put on the spot. During the meeting, clearly restate the purpose and what you want to come away with. Do you want general feedback about your performance? Career guidance? An in-depth assessment of your strengths and weaknesses? Be specific and listen openly, but don’t be afraid to redirect the conversation if it gets off track or isn’t addressing your original purpose.

Finally, while others can help you in your career, you are ultimately in charge of your own potential and what you choose to do with it. Be proactive. Conduct informational interviews with professionals in the field you’re interested in. Create a personal development plan of where you want to be in five years and work backwards to describe the actions you need to take to obtain your desired career goal.

  We want to hear from you. Send us your questions, ideas or feedback to [email protected]. Confidentiality is always assured. In our next issue, we will discuss some of the challenges and opportunities for mid-career arts and culture professionals.
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