Thursday, April 10, 2008

More job hunting advice

But not from me this time. This blog post by Meredith Farkas talks about finding a library job, but has good sensible advice.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

How to get a job in museums. Part 2: Applying and Interviewing

So the last post was more about preparing to be a candidate for a museum job. Let's get down to brass tacks; applying, interviewing, and getting yourself a nice cushy museum job. There may be some redundancy with Part 1, but if there is, then it bears repeating.

1. Apply. Apply early and often. Apply for jobs at the edge of your comfort zone; this is a competitive field and more applications=more possible jobs. I have a good friend who applied for a position that she was at the very edge of her comfort zone, was offered the job, and is now learning a great deal in the position. What I'm trying to tell you is that the risk can be worth it.

2. Customize your cover letters. You should know this by now. Even if you have some template paragraphs, be very careful when you create new letters: please remember to name the correct museum in your letter. If you don't and discover it later, you will be mortified. And, again, get people to look over your letter and help you refine it.

3. Wait patiently and apply for even more positions.


4. If you're interviewing for a job across the country or for a job down the hall, chances are you're going to have a phone interview at one point or another. I believe that I had about 6 phone interviews (I had one literally at the other end of the country, and one from the third floor while I was one the first), so I will relate my technique for feeling confident on the phone.

- Dress nicely. Yes, I know this feels silly, especially if you are interviewing at home, but I felt so much more put together and ready to interview when I was dressed nicely, and especially when I was wearing professional shoes. Your mileage may vary.

- Have your materials at hand. I had a copy of my resume, a copy of the job listing, a sheet of paper with my notes and questions on it, and a blank sheet of paper to take notes on in front of me when I had phone interviews at home. Also, have a glass of water in front of you, in case you need it.

- Smile. A smile comes through in your voice. Again, it seems hokey, but I think it really makes a difference. Plus, smiling releases endorphins in the brain to make you happy!

- Take your time. I rush like a banshee in interviews and it's a problem of mine which leads to giving less than concrete examples when answering questions. So take your time - if you need a moment to think, tell your interviewer that you need to think for a moment. It's acceptable to take a short moment to formulate a response (although, again, I stress that I am not an HR person nor do I play one on teevee).

- Listen for cues. Good phone interviewers will make little noises to show that they are listening. My worst phone interview was with someone who made no little noises at all, which gave me no cues to play off of. Of course, since you're on the phone, this is can be difficult, therefore, your mileage may vary.

- Thank the interviewer. Follow up with a thank you note or email. I tend toward email, but a paper note probably makes a better impression.

5. Interviewing in person. Same as interviewing on the phone, but without all the paper spread out in front of you. I can speak less to this portion as I only had a couple of in-person interviews, but there's a lot of good information out there.

6. Be prepared. Know about the institution you are applying for. Check out the 990s of the institution on Get nosy. This is a place you may become intimately familiar with.

7. Be prepared. No matter which interview format you have, there are going to be certain questions. What attracted you to this position? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? When responding to the weaknesses question, spin it in a positive light; "I would say my greatest weakness is my confidence when speaking in public, but I've been learning techniques to improve my technique." Or something like that. Show your assets (desire to improve) when discussing your liabilities.

8. Thank them. I said this before, but I'll say it again. Thank your interviewer. Send a thank you email. Send a thank you note. Keep your name in their mind.

9. Follow up calls. Now, I will admit that not once did I call to follow up on an interviewer. But I've since decided that calling to follow up is like the secret test of interviewing that no one tells you about, eveer. So, if a place tells you they will get back to you by X date, and you don't hear from them, call them the following business day to check in.

Waiting, part 2.

10. Wait patiently (with the exception of polite follow-up calls). In this day and age, many museums lack the staff to tell you that you didn't get the job. This will frustrate you, perhaps even infuriate you, but this is the way it is. You may get an email rejection, you may get a letter of rejection if you interviewed, but very possibly not. Find a coping mechanism and keep applying for more jobs. If they do want to offer you a job, you will hear from them.

And that's as much insight as I am prepared to give. There is a lot of information out there about negotiating salary, benefits, etc, but I don't feel I have any depth of knowledge in these areas, save for two nuggets of information:
1. Look at the low end of the salary range, not the high one. And the salary may be non-negotiable.
2. In lieu of salary negotiating, negotiate about fringe benefits - vacation time, flexible scheduling, etc. Museums may have more ability to bend on these points than on that sticky fiscal point.

Coming up sometime: Part 3, or How I Got the Museum Job I Wanted


Three recommendations

No, it's not deja vu - I just posted this over at ye olde collections blog and it fits here too.

Do you like reading this blog? Wanna find some more museum-y type blogs to read? Here's a couple that I'm really digging right now:

Curator's Corner. From the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum written by Curator Kim Kenney. Very chatty and a great look into the variety of projects Ms. Kenney is involved in.

The Bowers Museum Collection Blog. Profiles one object each week with really excellent information and great photos. Very interesting stuff.

Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central. A really remarkable look behind the scenes of how exhibits are built. Posting can be erratic, but worth adding to your feed reader when they do post.

I love the blogs that give you a glimpse of something different, something unusual. I'm especially impressed by Office of Exhibits Central and wish they would post more.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

AAM Digital Museum Webinar 3: Online Learning and Education

Really looking forward to this webinar. Should be interesting. I forgot my giant over-the-ear headphones at home, so will be using my earbuds.

Yeouch! My earbuds apparently have some kind of higher preset volume than the other headphones. Am frantically messing with volume settings. No luck.

After notes: I like these sessions, but it begins to feel very frantic when I'm trying to listen, read a slide, a chat box, and liveblog it. I wouldn't take anything away, but it's a lot of multitasking at one time. My brain is full.

Notes below the jump

Question 1: How is online learning implemented by museums?
Deb Howes, MOMA: Both museums and the internet focus on Information and Visitors. The internet, however, attracts a more diverse audience than museums can hope to manage. about 50% of participants have twice as many web visitors than museum visitors (but what def. are they using for web visitor?). Web offers formal and informal learning opportunities. Formal roughly equates to passive: reading, viewing, etc. Informal learning roughly equates to active: searching for info? Not sure about this assertion. blog.mode: addressing Fashion.

Victoria and Allegra: Teens as an audience. Do you offer teen programming? Well, not unless you count interns under 20, but that's hardly what they're asking. Hey now! Teens are using the intarwebs, so museums are working with that to get the teens involved. Museum teen sites? Or do we mean teen pages? Walker site has a business side and a play side (the mullet model of websites!)

David Schaller: Games v Game like activities. What is a game? engagement, conflict, rules and outcome. 2 kinds of games: Intrinsic (game play leads to information (fish ecosystem game) game play has constraints of environment (Colonial Williamsburg). Mold gameplay around content. Content centric) and Extrinsic (tic tac toe, memory. Game play not effected by extras (squid instead of Os)) content. Intrinsic is probably a more powerful gameplay experience.

Question/comments: How much of a role does Ed. Dept play in website? MOMA had much involvement. Do teens actually use these specialized sites independently or are directed by teachers? Mix of both. Site marketed to teachers. Teens stumble upon site outside of school at least somewhat.

Question 2: Which online learning environments work for which Audiences?
Allegra and Victoria: MOMA. How teens use the internet. as of 1/2007 55% of 12-17 yos use social network site. 64% create content (12/2007). Girls post more networking and photos; boys more likely to do videos. Teen friendly outreach content, social networking. Science Buzz offers model for online community exchange. Also RedShift Now. Online Video: on MoMA's site, on YouTube. Expansion beyond one site makes it easier for individuals searching for specific content from non-specific sites. Red Studio teen podcast most popular download from MoMA.

Susan Edwards: Getty trust. Who plays digital games? Demographics. Avg age: 33, 1/4 over 50. 38% are women. 81% of teens play computer games. Lifestyle: over half of parents think games are positive. 93% read books/newspapers regularly. 62% attend cultural events, 50% do creative activities.

David: Who play extrinsic content games? has low/no learning curve, low time commitment. Games can introduce collections/promote institution. Who plays intrinsic games? more involved, immersive, meaningful actions, problem solving, can assume new roles/identities, safe environment for exploring/risk-taking. Allow for recreation of rules of nature/society in a contextualized world. More than kids play these games.

Deb: Which online approach works for adults? Asynchronous occurs without a teacher (websurfing). Make sure that your content is well tagged, accessible, and easy to find much information - similar things, but well organized. Synchronous=a class with teachers/learners. Can do in a collab. space/virtual worlds/IM. Simulcasting type things. Combination can be effective, like in a teacher workshop. plan, use high quality, respond to user needs.

Questions/comments: How can you show that your tools/games/experiences help learning? It's hard to evaluate online. could incorporate into game through levels. or just use return stats to indicate success.

Question 3: What are good strategies for beginning and sustaining online learning in museums?

Allegra and Victoria: Teen project, consider the following: Audience, objects, scale, branding/marketing. Teens are attracted to authenticity: No phonies! Resources and scale: free-blogs, wikis, myspace/facebook, youtube, but has costs in terms of staffing, production, and marketing. Build in evaluation.

Susan: Keeping the Games Alive: Maintenance and scalability. Goals/budget/promotion step. Attracting and sustaining learning. scaffolding - keep content fresh, provide opportunities. "Whyville" like 2nd life for kids. Partner to develop. Foster online community: boards, blogs, polls leads to promotion/engagement and feedback in one.

Deb: How to get started and sustain the momentum? Know your free tools! (cough*google*cough). Add online components to existing programs. Keep it going through partnered outreach. Have on-site support. Create lifelong museum learning continuum.

Q&A mode: Oh noes! Can we trust the teens? Moderated posting.
Trying to recreate the physical space is not the greatest method - online is different anyway even in 2nd life. Intrinsic experiences cost a TON $150-400,000. Jeepers. Who funds online learning? Getty has a grant.