Austin College helped me hone in on where I really wanted to be. I knew I wanted to work in museums, so I designed my own major in Museum Studies (double majoring in English). When I started, the only museum job I really knew about was “Curator.” I quickly learned that to be a curator you had to specialize in a narrow academic field, and I knew I wanted more freedom and a broader experience. At Austin College I was supported by grants & internship programs while I tested out different museum jobs every summer (I even had a work-study in the AC archives on campus my freshman year). With each, I learned more about the industry and got a better idea of where I wanted to end up.
After Austin College, I earned my M.A. from George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program. At GWU, I continued to explore until I found the right fit: project management and content development. For the last three years, I have been an Exhibition Project Manager at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Project managers are in every industry making sure projects are on time, on budget, and are the best they can be. Since my projects are exhibitions, I get to stay in touch with my love of art while I work with all kinds of experts to disseminate information in a fun way, learning new things all the time. Working at a museum makes me feel connected to my sense of idealism and altruism, but the skill set I am building could very easily transfer to a design or fabrication firm for hire.
Critical thinking and writing skills are a huge part of my work, from editing exhibition scripts to writing fabrication contracts. I am training up to be a senior content developer so that I can be a solo lead project manager on new exhibition teams, something that requires strong interpersonal skills, teamwork, patience, open mindedness, and negotiation. I think an arts education encourages the exploration and self-awareness needed to foster all of those skills.