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Managing Your Museum Career through COVID‐19

Category: On-Demand Programs: Career Management

This is a recorded session from the 2020 AAM Virtual Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.

The COVID‐19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented layoffs and furloughs across the globe, including in the museum field. While museums are beginning to reopen, uncertainty about the future remains high. How can individuals—whether currently employed, recently laid off, or just beginning their careers—position themselves for career growth and advancement in the months and years to come? Join experts from Koya Leadership Partners for an empowering discussion about managing your career during a crisis.

Presenters: Naree Viner, Koya Leadership Partners

Transcript:

Joshua Morin: Do I need to swap displays.

Jake – CommPartners: It’s good. Yeah. It’s good.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: Hello everybody.

I’m glad to see. I can’t see everybody but I can see the number of people who are joining our session and I’m really thrilled that we havegetting upwards of 200 people. My name is Nari Viner and with coil leadership partners, I’m pleased to be here with some some couple of colleagues on a couple of folks that I know from the field and we want to begin today. Honestly, by acknowledging the difficulty that’s going on in our across our country Korea.

We had a really deep and difficult discussion about the current situation or country. We didn’t feel as a group that we should be starting today without acknowledging that there’s a lot of pain.

In justice and a lot of us feel powerless. That doesn’t mean that we must remain powerless and museums, we believe, play a role in bridging difference in promoting understanding we’re pleased to be doing the session with you today on managing your museum career through code. And we also wanted to acknowledge anybody that’s feeling hurt pained triggered by what’s been going on. We are here with you so that note I want to introduce i’m going to share my screen. Briefly, I know you’re seeing us. But I also want to share the screen to show you a slide that we prepared of the with our names and backgrounds.

A little bit and I’ll switch back from it after everybody does introductions. I’m going to now introduce. Well, let me say briefly a little bit about myself and then I’ll introduce the rest of the group.

I’ve been working in search for over 16 years the past 10 majority in the museum world.

I really love my work and the opportunity to meet and get to know individuals who are professionals in the field, but also clients who are needing to find the best leaders is a huge gift in my life. So I’m really happy to be here and I’m thrilled that am invited us to to put this panel together. So, and I’m going to turn it over to my co moderator Stephen Noble.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for joining this session. My name is Steven Bauer, I am based in New York City, not too far from the Whitney Museum on the west side of Manhattan.

I’ve been working in executive search for the last 12 years, with particular emphasis in the cultural sector both visual as well as performing arts in the full senior leadership suite working on heads of education CFO marketing roles Deputy Director roles and at the director level role.

And Nori and I have worked together now for the last 10 years across three different firms now in Korea, certainly, though at hydrogen struggles and Korn ferry. More recently, so thank you so much. We really appreciate your investment.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: And I just want to say I’m sorry I’m actually joining you from Connecticut clay is a truly virtual firm. We work all across the country. Many of us work.

Alexandra Corvin: In our homes or in the small offices that we have in our hometowns. I’m going to go next to Alex cordon, who is our colleague on the West Coast, Alex. Why don’t you talk hi, good afternoon, everyone. My name is Alex Corbin. I’m also a managing director here at coil leadership partners.

As Mary said I’m based in San Francisco. I’ve been working in search almost 10 years. I started my career at another firm Russell Reynolds and my portfolio spans, not only the arts and cultural sector, but also I do quite a bit of work with philanthropy, as well as social services and other general nonprofits.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: Thanks, Alex. I’m going to go next to Belinda Tate, who is joining us from the Midwest.

Belinda Tate: Hi everyone. Again, I’m Belinda Tate, I am the Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. It’s a wonderful organization in Southwest Michigan.

We have a fabulous collection of about 5000 objects we serve about 100,000 visitors annually and we have an excellent community based art school where we serve about 3000 students annually through our school, welcome. Thank you so much for spending your afternoon with us.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: And then finally, Becky.

Becky Beaulieu: Hi everyone I’m Becky Bowyer I am speaking to from my kitchen in Old Saybrook Connecticut. I am the director of the Florence Grizzle Museum in old Lyme, Connecticut.

We are a museum dedicated to American art history and landscape with a focus on Connecticut we receive roughly 80,000 visitors a year.

And I also serve with a as Co Chair of the historic houses insights professional network as well as on the accreditation commission I was placed in my position about two and a half years ago by Nari so it is a pleasure to be here to speak on this panel with all of you. Thanks for having me.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: Thanks, Becky. I’m going to stop sharing now because I think it’s more interesting to see us talking the five of us got together last week to discuss what we’re seeing right now in the museum world with regard to people’s career with regards to the way organizations are responding to go in 19 so we semi sorta organized set of talking points just for some agenda setting.

We’re only each playing speak about five minutes or so. Stephen and Alex and I will be speaking from the point of view of being recruiters and working with clients now.

Whereas Belinda and Becky are going to be talking as leaders event institutions that are going through radical, radical extreme circumstances we are planning to leave the last half hour of our hour-long session. So, starting at five o’clock eastern in about 24 minutes we’ll be opening it up to questions we ask that you please use the Q&A feature if you look in the bottom of your zoom screen on the far right, you’ll see a Q &A Q&A logo with two little thought bubbles.

If you would please submit your questions by Q&A that way. Stephen and I as moderators can kind of view them without looking at the chat and we can and we can address them that way in any of the any of the people on this panel will be able to see questions directed distinctly towards individual people. Okay, so if you can use the chat function, that would be great.

So the first area that Stephen, I wanted to talk about and Alex please weigh in, because you’ve been living this too is how it feels to be a candidate during COVID several searches. We began several searches. Each of us since that fateful week in March, where the world seemed to go Topsy Turvy.

And we’ve been working with clients who are very keen to make these hires, but they’re not able to meet with people in person, they can’t even meet with one another in person. So we have a few observations and tips for any of you who might be looking for a job right now. And this, I think applies to any level of job we work a lot on SEO searches.

But both Stephen and Alex have also done Chief Development Officer CFO Chief Administrative Officer position so we tried to keep this as widely applicable as possible. Man, I have seen 375 participants, which is really astounding. Thank you for spending your time with us.

Today. So one thing that is going to sound obvious, but it’s worth stating is that searches are taking more time they’re taking more time because people are. We can’t go to what we used to do in terms of a typical search process.

People are more accustomed to zoom than they were two months ago but interviewing people by zoom has its challenges.

And what that means is we have to think more carefully about how to make the process.

Fruitful for the client, as well as for the candidate to get a sense because remember. They can’t visit a lot of places now.

Either. So one thing to keep in mind as a candidate is to be nimble and to be patient.

Processes that you’ve not never encountered before going to come up some requests that you haven’t encountered before going to come up but be. Don’t be reactive be thoughtful about why it’s happening. I would also encourage candidates to ask for accommodation as much as possible. Ask for time i think i think people deserve that. Now, and giving one another. Grace during difficult moments, it’s really, really important.

Stephen, do you have anything to add or Alex to what I just said.

No. Okay. The other thing we’ve talked about too is that start dates because processes take longer placements take longer. So we’ve talked to clients about being flexible. Let’s start dates.

And that may mean that may be because someone can’t move or someone has to feel it’s not the right time for them to leave immediately and they need to put their current organization in a good place.

The other piece and this is hard, but I think no places immune to this is that salary expectations are different. Many, many, many, many institutions have had to institute furloughs and layoffs.

And what you might have asked for in February is going to be very different than it would be now.

We have had a few clients put searches on hold. It’s not that they don’t, they’re not canceling the searches, which is different.

What they’re saying is we can’t make this higher for another few quarters. So as search consultants, we’re doing what we can to accommodate that by putting an assignment or hold and saying that we start in six months, several clients. We have now are asking us to restart in the first quarter of 2021 so don’t be surprised as a candidate. This is know what’s the word. It’s no it’s not emblematic of a lack of desire. It’s really about resources and we’re communicating with all candidates. When that happens, and trying to give them a sense of the timeframe.

Just be patient resilience is being tested in all these different ways resilience organizations resilience of individuals.

And I think one of the toughest parts of this is gaining a comfort level of managing yourself through uncertainty and absolute ambiguity as states begin to reap and reopen some places are doing it faster, not always to the ease of mind of the peace of mind of the people involved, but we are a big country and we have all these different and diverse ways that we’re responding to the crisis, some may agree with somebody disagree.

I think what’s important is knowing that you’re not going to get all the data you like but finding a way to make decisions and I’ve been advocating this isn’t normally a good thing. But I think compartmentalizing helps I think you have to start to distinguish between this is just generally life what you can control and what you can’t. And if you can’t control it. Don’t be don’t focus on it honestly just set it aside and focus on things you can, and when it comes to being a candidate. That’s really hard because the toughest thing is the uncertainty, but I think understanding that everybody is in a place of uncertainty is really, really hard.

Um, that’s enough on my piece, the Stephen Alex, do you have anything dad will circle where the world will also circle back at the end for what we’re hearing about what clients are wanting, but I’d like to turn it to Becky next if that’s okay.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: The only last thing that I would say is, you’re not in this alone. I think that one thing, not just compartmentalizing but recognize that you have a full cohort of colleagues and friends and peers.

Through am through other networks and utilize us as just a sounding board, you know, one person asked in the Q&A whether this was focused on mid career and or in sea level. But I also know that there are folks that are just getting into this profession.

And just know that there are, there’s a wealth of resources out there that you can use to find headspace to think about what are the things that would make me an attractive candidate. What are the opportunities that I might think about investing in whether it’s maybe I come from a visual art background, but maybe there’s an opportunity in a foundation or maybe you need to start kind of in the development space but learn how to how museums unfold and that would enable you then to perhaps move into an area that would be more aligned with your own career aspirations and interests. So I think, be not only patient. But I think, be flexible in your thinking and just know that there is a network that is that is really there for you.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: Thanks, Steven

Becky Beaulieu: Though at this point what I’d love to do. Now if you’re comfortable and Stephen as well. I’d love to talk a little bit from the perspective of a director who manages all hiring at my museum as well as someone who was a place relatively recently, and my experiences with that.

And something that I would offer just to echo something that Mary was saying some of her introductory remarks, which is that the timetables for all regular business haven’t really shifted something that we talked about with my team regularly and we have about  to  employees of the Florence Griswold museum, depending on the season.

Something that we really talk about is managing team morale managing our momentum and our commitment.

Through this time, which is really a marathon and not a sprint. I think for a lot of us who are currently employed in museums, those of us in current leadership positions. There is a certain amount of exhaustion that comes with this level of investment in redirection without immediate without any kind of immediate results. We are all navigating a little blind here and as many of us have heard the metaphor. This is not a switch that will be flipped onit is a dimmer that will be turned up. And so because of that with a longer time table, it can be harder to manage but I would say that in terms of human resources, which is such an important book important asset, keeping your team together during a time like this.

Can be so important. And I’ve actually found that one of the Silver Linings is that this can be an incredible opportunity to build a team build expertise and build a unifying collective I would say that there is opportunity through crisis and if you are willing to tackle that, and you’re willing to take it on, especially as a team. It can be an extremely gratifying process.

Which is what we’ve seen at the Florence Griswold museum. And I would say just as a little bit of background I joined the team, as I said, just about two and a half years ago.

I took over from a director. Many of you I know on this call. It’s good to see you participating, a lot of friends.

Know that I took over for director that was in place for almost 42 years and there was a lot of change that came about with new leadership.

But because of that it also really created an opportunity for us to be moving forward in a new direction.

That has been solidified throughout this experience, it has pulled us all together. And while we may not be physically together.

It gives us the opportunity to define what our future is going to be we’ve, for instance, had to suspend strategic planning because we are not in a position to be gathering focus groups and to be thinking about what’s next. Because right now, it’s survival mode.

But even knowing that we have the opportunity to be looking forward. And I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm.

For the fact that we’re handling this well that we’ve maintained, our team and that we have the chance to be considering what our next chapter is so knowing that I think that one of the most important things that I can offer and many of you know that I work a lot with financial management.

Is that there are benefits to being in a midsize museum. And for those of you who are considering transitions or looking at where you may fit in.

To a position. If you’re just a new graduate, something like that, is that considered the scale of the institution to which you would be interested in work in positioning yourself or looking at maybe a broader scope of what a scale, maybe for us.

We have found that being a midsize museum allows us to pivot more readily more quickly and more fluidly than some of our larger counterparts, where it’s like shifting the Titanic.

Instead, we’re able to move very quickly. According to some of the changing standards at the state level as well as within our field.

It also allows us to have a leaner team. And for those of you who look at mid sized organizations. Well, the pay yes may be more modest and the REACH may be more modest. There’s so much room for growth.

That would also allow you to take on new experiences and new roles at a museum that could help you have a career trajectory maybe in a way that you wouldn’t be able to do in a narrower scope. Similarly, on the institutional side with recruiting I would encourage all of you who may be looking to build your teams moving forward to consider transparency. Transparency is something we talked about in financial management and asset management.

It’s also something that we need to be aware of in terms of how we’re telling our story.

Our narrative now includes crisis management and it’s important to be clear about that as you’re looking to internal communications external communications and team building. So that’s what I would offer.

Belinda Tate: Thank you Becky. Um, you know, I want to reiterate what you said about mid sized museums, some of the most exciting work.

In the museum field in America right now is taking place in mid sized institutions and midsize institutions offer a wonderful training ground because…

You will receive a lot of valuable experience working closely across teams and working closely with community members.

I want to offer you today a few practical suggestions that you might be able to use if you are looking to change jobs right now.

Or if you’re really trying to find your way and your current position and the first thing I want to say is, is to rely on that old adage that your attitude determines your altitude. And that’s so important right now, particularly in a time where there’s a lot of turmoil and transition within and without, or and outside of the museum. So anyone who can bring an informed positive perspective to the table will be very valuable within a museum institution. Also, I want to say if you are currently furloughed or separated from your institution stay in touch with your institution.

Let your former supervisor or someone know that you are ready and willing to return.

Support them the work that the people who are currently on staff are doing now, it’s very difficult work there fewer hands to do that work. And people are really stressed out, so a CALL FROM YOU, saying, I support you. I’m rooting for you. If there’s anything I can do let me know. I can’t wait to join the team again.

I’ve been working. I’ve been studying. I’ve been doing all sorts of things to be prepared to rejoin the team that will be very valuable and that will go a long way.

Also have a sense of the organization that you might be returning to we closed our organization on March  the organization we reopen will not be the organization that we closed. So right now it is really up to you to go through the very important process of reinventing yourself.

Really look inward refocus on who you are as a professional and what you can bring to the table and what you can add to the culture of your former institution.

Or your new institution that will make it a better place because as a director, we’re all looking to reopen an institution that is going to be better than ever.

The people on staff are thinking about that and working towards that. So if you stay connected with them, you will have a sense of the direction that the institution.

Is moving in and you’ll be in lockstep with that and you’ll be able to rejoin a team and be a participant, an active participant and contributor to the momentum that’s already happening.

Use what you have at your disposal to improve yourself if you are an educator, then use your own social media platform to design at home.

educational activities that relate to the museum to relate to your museums collection, whatever it is that you do being resourceful in this moment and really show up and show yourself as a museum professional because these are the kinds of things hiring Managers are going to be looking for when it’s time to reopen the museum or expand staff.

The other thing, though not the last thing. But one other thing I want to add is um diversity, equity access and inclusion is hugely important right now.

Museum leaders are taking this very seriously, and we know that we have to have a well educated, well informed staff to address the issues that we need to address internally and within the Community.

No one gets a pass on this today. You are going to have to take it upon yourself to educate yourself about the issues.

And if your job doesn’t necessarily require you to be informed, what will make you stand out as a candidate is to show yourself as informed.

So if you don’t have a project that you’ve participated in to put on your resume.

To show that you’ve been engaged in this type of work, then I would, at the very least, add at the end of your resume a current reading list.

So that the hiring manager can see that this is something that you’re very serious about and that you’ve taken it upon yourself.

To educate yourself in this way so that they know that you can engage in meaningful conversations internally or even be a resource for other members of the museum team.

Lastly, again, your attitude will determine your altitude. This is the time to really be resourceful and reinvent yourself.

And use your imagination to envision the kind of career, you want to have in a museum with the understanding that museums are becoming rapidly becoming very different types of institutions. If you have been separated from your institution. Don’t take it personally.

Managers have had to make difficult heart wrenching decisions about staff members that they truly care about, but the realities are what they are.

If you can approach your institution, letting them know that you are still in support and still in alignment with the institution and ready to return and work.

That I think you have a much better chance a stronger chance of being recalled as soon as the institution has the financial capacity to do so.

If you have the flexibility, I would advise you to even allow your let your institution, know that you’re willing to come back.

On a part time basis with the hopes that your position can be reestablished as a full time position or that you’re willing to Job share. I’ve had a number of people contact me saying, hey, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make the institution of success that level of commitment loyalty and positive with T is hugely valuable right now to every museum organization. So I hope that bit of advice helps you.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: Alex, do you want to chime in and then we’re about four or five minutes away from doing Q&A and could I remind folks I see a lot of people are using the Q&A lot of people using the chat. We’d love for you to use the Q &A Q&A feature. It’s on the bottom right of your screen.

To send us questions. Thanks. Go ahead, Alex.

Alexandra Corvin: Thank you, Belinda, I just want to thank you for your comments.

And just one thought from a recruiter perspective on that front. I think in these moments of transition, it’s an opportunity for people, as we talked about to reinvent themselves or to experiment in new ways.

And I encourage you to do that and to use this opportunity to explore and when it gets to the point where you’re applying for jobs are looking to go back, you know, or change positions.

We always talk about at coin, how, how to tell your story. You know, people by human nature will put you in a box. You’ve been an educator, you must be looking for another education position.

And if you’re looking to make that pivot. It’s totally doable. You just have to bring people along on that journey. You have to tell them the story.

Of how you got from A to B, you have to show them the examples. Don’t be afraid to do a quick mission statement or a summary at the top of your resume to tell that story, don’t assume that people are going to understand how you got there, but this is a great opportunity in these times to be exploring that. Just make sure that when you’re putting it on paper that you’re bringing people along for the journey.

So, I just have a few comments that you know you know as nori Stephen and I are continuing to work.

at the executive level on on many different types of searches executive director searches, but also for senior leadership team members, you know, a lot of candidates. And people are saying is now a good time to make a transition and they’re nervous about that for, for obvious reasons.

But there’s a number of things. But we’re seeing, we’re seeing great transitions are we’re seeing a lot of opportunity for people still across the sector, there is movement and so we just encourage you, there’s just a few questions and things that I would just keep in mind for people that might be in that position.

You know, making sure that you’re getting a real clear sense about an organization’s financial picture, you know, what are their projections for next year.

How were they financially before COVID and what have they been doing during this time period to sustain themselves.

How is the board engaged. Are they open to innovation. How are they showing up in that way.

Are they going to be a partner to anyone that’s looking to make a transition wants to know that they’re going to be successful. And we don’t ever do this alone. We do this in partnership with our with our colleagues and with with strong boards of directors. So make sure that you are asking those questions and engaging and understanding who your allies are going to be and the supporters in these institutions.

And, you know, we’re also seeing unfortunately the organizations that have had to make have to make changes for Lowes or layoffs.

They’re also rethinking certain departments and that’s also an opportunity for them to reinvent themselves. So when we get through all of this, I think there will be new and different and potentially exciting opportunities.

For new for departments and for individuals within those departments, so keep an eye out for that. Be flexible as bonus I’d show that show that strong and exciting attitude that you would be open and willing to roll up your sleeves in these times.

But just keep in mind that things aren’t necessarily as, as we’ve talked about going to look the same. When we come back, that they didn’t. When we left. And so you just have to be willing and able to make that pivot.

And I think, you know, moving forward, we’re going to see people that are playing all positions, so to say. And so being being game to do that to continue the sports analogy.

I think is really important and making sure that you’re asking your organization, how are they thinking about those things. So you know if you’re coming into a new position and you have the room and you understand what your opportunities will be to innovate and how you might add to that story. So just a few thoughts there and I’ll pause because I know we’re right at time.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: Thanks, Alex. I’m looking at the questions that have come over the Q &A Q&A channel and I’m thinking about them in some broad categories, if we’re not a if we don’t specifically answer someone’s questions, please don’t take offense. We’re just building a lot of increase.

One thing that I wanted to talk about was the notion of salaries, there have been a couple of questions having to do with you know already. This is a field with lower salaries and I’m making a choice between taking like a minimum wage job versus job I’ve been doing all this grad school and training for.

That’s real. I don’t have the best answer for that, other than museums have been working to get to the right level at all levels, every one of our clients asked us about salary surveys. It boils down to the resources available and and Becky will back me up on this. Typically, the biggest part of any museum budget is salaries and benefits.

I’ve seen salaries go up at a lot of levels, but I’m going to tell you. For those who want the pragmatic piece, the salaries that tend to be highest are ones in fundraising.

And some kind of some administrative function. Some of it is just the competition. There are a lot of people with degrees in art history. I’m one of them.

But I think if you’re looking at okay if I got to make a choice. What, what I wanted, when I when I talked to people earlier in their careers, who want to go into museums, I do talk to them about the fact that some lines of the career paths are not going to be as lucrative and you have to kind of come to grips with that nobody goes into the museum world to make a ton of money. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be paid well absolutely does not mean that.

And I think that while museums are trying to think of it, every industry right now is hamstrung by the fact that revenue has gone way down.

So it’s not a great answer to that question. I just know that it’s very, very real for the other fields. I think that are going to become more important what Alex said about about pivoting to different…

Different departments. I think anything having to do with audience engagement and using technology has a ton of potential so many museums right now trying to figure out what to do to engage with their potential visitors and their past visitors electronically virtual experience digital platforms that doesn’t mean that somebody had asked about should I get a library degree. Should I work on archives. That doesn’t mean you you choose the degree that gets you the job. It has to be coupled with job opportunities. It has to be coupled with I think what you’re really passionate about. You’re not going to enjoy or or even do your best job if you’re not if you’re not interested in that topic.

Somebody else asked a really, I can answer this question. Very well. How many pages should my resume be. It’s good. It’s fine to go past one page. If there’s real content that you can share beyond that one page. Alex is nodding Stephen and I’ve seen this lot.

When we’re interviewing someone and they just have one page where like and then we start talking to them about what they’ve done very often they’ll be like, Why isn’t that in your resume. So it’s, I would think going to two pages is no problem.

And someone who’s been in the field for at least to years plus can go to three pages without penalty. I don’t think that’s a really bad thing. So, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. I think it’s a good thing.

Stephen, do you want to take any of the questions that you’re seeing in the chat, those, those are some I saw like broad areas. I tried to be helpful.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: Sure. And I would also just add on to what nori was saying sometimes when you are, let’s say, at a mid career position you’re looking to advance into a more senior level role.

What people often find when they are coming from academic institutions and moving into perhaps more municipal settings is the question of a CV versus a resume.

One of the things that often trips candidates up is that they’ll send along, let’s say, a  page CV.

Which includes all of their speaking engagements all of their exhibitions all of their writings and yet at the end of the day, this is a senior administrative role.

So we’re looking for. Have you fundraise. How do you work with boards. How have you lead teams through change management. So make sure that you have some balance between your credentials and your credibility as a thought leader, as well as the things that you’ve done. Specifically, not a laundry list of your job responsibilities.

But where have you had impact. What are the things that are going to really take you beyond paper and get clients and and perhaps search committees or hiring managers excited about you as a potential candidate next leader for the organization.

Alexandra Corvin: Stephen. I was just going to make a quick plug. We did a recent blog post of quiet out resume tips. And so if you’re interested in that. I would check that out on our coil partners com website.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: Belinda. This is a question that perhaps you can talk about twofold. One is about what you meant by job share one and two is when you say that your organization won’t look the same. Whenever he opens. Can you expand a little bit what will look different.

Belinda, you’re on mute.

Belinda Tate: You guys missed me thinking.

The experience will be different from the time you enter the museum until the time that you leave so we’re doing a lot of training around a customer service and visitor engagement postcode.

The types of programming, we’re doing is changing. We’re really trying to integrate what we offer on our social media platforms with what’s on the website will with what will ultimately be on site so that people can have a seamless experience across all three platforms and be able to pick and choose how they want to connect and or engage with us.

So, you know, I mean, I could go on, but everything will be different. The second part of that question is job sharing.

There are certain functions within our museum where we know our capacity will be reduced. And so what was previously a full time position might only be a part time position now.

And so we are looking at what other things can people do at the museum in order to maintain a full time status. And so this is where we’re asking people to bring their full skill set to the table and it’s no more where people are simply working in one department staying in a lane doing different things. We are now writing grants as a team. Many people are pitching in and contributing to that there may be times when folks who don’t normally work as a frontline staff member will spend a certain number of hours when the museum reopens as a frontline staff member. We will start to sell tickets from our museum shop which we have not done.

In the past, so we’re doing some internal project posting where any senior manager within the organization can post a project and anyone on staff can raise their hands and say, I have capacity. I’d love to take on that project for another department.

So I hope that gives you a little bit of a sense of how things are changing and how people are really pitching in to do whatever needs to be done outside of what their formal job description, used to be some of those jobs don’t exist anymore. In the same fashion.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: Thank you, Belinda.

I’m Becky I want to direct some questions to you. I’m going to sort of lump them all together and this is for the Graduates, you know, heading out college perhaps graduate school as well as those that are in the kind of zero for five years. I’m hearing an echo. Sorry.

Zero to five years of career professional experience. Can you talk about the things that that people should be thinking about heading into this tough job market in terms of how to better position themselves? Either you know in application or looking to make a change. How does a sort of young arts professional navigate through these challenging times?

Becky Beaulieu: Well, obviously that’s a question that we would probably be dealing with if we were all at a time together and we didn’t have a sky is falling kind of feeling right now.

But it’s even more relevant, something that I would offer is that sometimes people feel overwhelmed by the idea of taking on.

What would be considered a more modest front desk staff position or something very part time in education or something where they’re helping out behind the scenes.

For what’s called a fellowship with the pay as low as we’ve already addressed in rem so I’m so grateful to you for putting it out there that pay equity is something that we really, really struggle with in this field, and especially in those first few years of getting your career off the ground, it can be really challenging.

And to echo something that Alex said yesterday, especially as you’re looking to navigate your career and bring it forward is what story you’re telling the great thing about crisis is that it up ends convention. So, while we may look at it and say, well, the development. People are highest paid and they have so much seniority and they have so many relationships. Meanwhile, I’m selling tickets at the front desk. Well, guess what.

Those development professionals and senior management are looking at you now as the frontline of that museum.

You are in charge of messaging. You are the ones that are listening to what is happening at state levels and to public health officials and carrying that forward to our community.

Your participation is vital. So, what I would encourage you to do is to look at the fact that every single person and every position out of museum.

There is the opportunity to be a change agent. What are you doing at every level to bring forward and understanding of industry best practices?

Of institutional messaging of staff cohesion, a project management and of resilience during a tough time.

Every one of us who is contributing to an institutional story right now is also building a crew career story, and we’re going to all all of us every single person. I’ll 394 people right now and all of us panelists.

Are all crafting our response right now and that will be part of our career narratives. So, think about the story you’re telling. That’s no less valid if you’re in an hourly position and just starting out your career.

Or if your mid-career or if you’re senior everyone is going to be talking about how we handled this. So, this is one of the most enriching times in your career. Anyways, as you’re getting into an institution.

Think about the ways that you can contribute Belinda was bringing up some great ways that her team is working together in new ways. And I can say the same thing that some of our team members that

You know, may not be on the top of the masthead, so to speak, I’m thinking of our educators and I am thinking of a lot of our front desk staff are now carrying the torch for the whole museum on site, and they are just as valuable and deserve to be treated as so and that’s something I’ll be thinking of with hiring in the future.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: Thanks Becky. Alex there couple questions about kind of job postings and recruitment.

So, someone asks, “Can you speak to the differences between applying to the job post sending in a resume cover letter and being part of an organized search run by a firm like quiz. At what level should want to be looking at museums websites versus looking at recruitment websites.”

So that’s one and two would be perhaps if people are going to be writing cover letters. What’s sort of the best-in-class practice tips and tricks for really highlighting your experience that that complements wins resume.

Alexandra Corvin: And great questions. I would say the first part of the question about at what levels. I mean anything at the executive level via, you know, vice president or above would be something that might be handled by a firm like Korea.

You know, we do have a database where we are happy to have you be a part of that, regardless of your level.

So, you can even go on our website and fill out the candidate profile. So even if you’re not quite at that stage of your career. It’s a great way to stay involved in our network.

And make sure that you’re on file for us. So, so I would encourage you to do that. I’m sorry, and Stephen. Is that fair, anything you would add on that front.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: I think I’m going to our site and looking at the resume resources that you mentioned, Alex. And you can fill of a candidate profile.

I think one of the things to keep in mind about a career in the museum world is is playing long game, and I’m going to be really honest, I got a question. I saw a question from someone saying, Look, I have barriers as a person of color.

To be taking an entry level job compared, you know, in terms of my economic resources. I think that’s a huge problem in museum world when I when I was finishing grad school 25 years ago.

And I was interested in going to museum education. It seemed like all the museum educators and I’m gonna be really honest here were white women who are really wealthy and therefore, could they could afford to take those jobs and just sit there. I do think museums are slowly but surely trying to change that internships now need to be paid in Cobra world lot of internships are canceled.

But I think there’s a lot am is done. There’s been a lot in kind of professional groups.

The Association of art museum curators is one I can think of a few others where they’re trying to say, look, we’re keeping cannot pay people in order to train them, but there’s no no doubt that the reality is that it’s very hard to find these positions. I saw a couple of people on the chat, saying, It’s so unfair, the development professionals get more money.

It is unfair. No doubt about it. But the reality of a mission-oriented organization is that without fundraising going on. Nothing else can occur. And I heard from

A contact in a museum that recently dismissed their director just missing your director during a time like this as a statement from the board.

And I said, well, why did they do that and she said they didn’t have competence and the way he was managing the covert situation. I said, Well, what did he do and he said he fired the marketing person in fire the development person. He said, we don’t need to be doing this because people will be giving money.

I’m here to tell you for the best mission-oriented organizations, a time of crisis is when you should be asking for their support.

And I don’t mean to diminish at all the other fields that people are choosing to go into. And I don’t think everybody should go into development because developments hard. It takes a particular kind of temperament to want to be the person making that match between a donor and an institution.

I’m just, I just want to acknowledge that I understand what it feels like to think I can’t afford to take this job.

And as leaders Belinda and Becky I know that you’ve had to make hires for, you know, in constraint circumstances, it’s really, really hard.

I feel that I all I can do is acknowledge that a particular thing that someone asked was about what can I be doing to train my interns for querying the museum world and this relates to what Alex said, and that is have a real, take some real time to think about how you interview interviewing in of itself is a very performative not typical muscles that you exercise piece. So what Alex said about honing your narrative and telling stories.

Looking at your background, even if it’s not directly related to the job you want try to pull out the stories of when you had to face problems and how you solve them.

And even stories of how you faced problems and couldn’t solve them. But what you learned from it that ability to kind of eliminate what’s on your what’s on paper becomes really important when you get to the interview stage.

Anybody want to on the panel on to add to what I just said about their holiday of museums museum opportunities, not paying what they what people wish.

From people who actually hire.

Becky Beaulieu: Well, and I’ll also say, as someone who completely empathizes and worked, what was it, some of you in our session may know something like 12 unpaid internships. Before I made a dime in museums and have a lot of student loans to repay and all that fun stuff. So, I think that there’s something about situations like this that put a spotlight on the importance of empathy.

In hiring and so much of this is also, I think, for those of us in hiring positions were charged with making our positions attractive.

You know, so there is something to consider in terms of, well, we may have limitations on pay. What are we doing to create a culture that you want to be a part of? What are we doing to do exciting work together?

That doesn’t necessarily put food on the table. I totally understand and like Nari we have to be realistic about our resource management during a tough time like this.

And in a field that is not known for the money flowing but I would also say that it’s up to us to consider what other assets. Do we have to offer. What about time management.

What about team support. What about professional development and those are all of us in hiring positions that we can offer to make sure that we’re benefiting our staff as well as the institution as a whole.

Belinda Tate: And I will agree with Becky and just say that, certainly in the in recent years there has been a concerted effort to focus on issues related to pay equity.

Belinda Tate: And to try to raise the salaries of museum staff members across the board. And I know that to be true.

For myself, and for many other directors. So, this is not an issue that is going unnoticed, but it is not where we want it to be and the current pandemic that we’re experiencing now certainly isn’t helping. But I think this is something that people will continue to focus on in the future.

But I can also say to you if you work on investing in yourself and continue to increase your value to the organization, you will continue to see your salary rise over time.

Either that value will be recognized by the organization that you’re currently with or that value will be recognized by another institution.

Who would like to make it attractive for you to be a member of of their team. So don’t lose hope on this issue. I know a lot of people have dreams of doing a variety of things in the museum world. And I would say, you know, stick to it and ultimately I think you’ll be where you want to be.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: I’m going to make a statement that’s going to sound.

Pessimistic.

But I would rather be completely transparent and real with you a client of mine recently said that his institutions going to be looking at furloughs or layoffs, there’s a higher that he wanted to make that he couldn’t because he can’t right now.

And he had just come from a staff meeting when we spoke, and they were talking about how they were close. They need to be able his staff was kind of ideas about how to engage their audience, even while they were closed and he told me about an observation that a board member made and that was this institutions that were already thinking of innovating already thinking of finding different ways of doing their work. We’re going to have to do it faster because of the pandemic. They’re going to have to move more quickly to institute these new approaches and systems for the ones that haven’t moved have been doing things the same way.

They’re not going to survive. They’re not going to survive. And here’s something I just want to be clear for the people who are thinking about much earlier in their career. They’ve plateaued in their career.

And doing this because I want to be completely honest with you. Not every institution is going to survive this current situation, the ones that do survive will be stronger for it. And there’s going to be a kind of level setting around the places that haven’t been able to adapt that does. And the reason this is pessimistic is because there’s already so much competition for museum jobs.

In order to kind of make your way in this atmosphere.

You need to have what we call agility; you need to have, you need to hone your ability to kind of pivot and flex that is really hard to do when you’re worried about paying your bills so want to be fair about that if that means you have to make a pivot elsewhere for a little while, then that’s what happens.

By honing that narrative piece, you can tell the story that will make when things, hopefully get better. You can you can find your way back but nothing’s going to be linear anymore and our linear career those just don’t happen anymore. Honestly, Belinda started her career in banking. I know that.

Um, and Becky had many jobs before she landed where where she did honing your agility to be responsive is really important. I can understand a lot of people that are hearing this today.

We’re up over  people at one point we have now 372 you may decide that this isn’t the right career for you or pathway for you or you or you can’t afford to be there. That’s okay.

That’s okay.

It’s it you know some of this Belinda talked about this in our preparation session last week. Is she gave her team a chance to mourn what they’re not going to be able to do anymore and  think I that’s real. It boils down to playing the long game. If you can, but if you can’t, no one should feel shamed by that no one should feel that they fell short. It’s really tough to get them to the museum world and you’re talking

To in Belinda and Becky, people who are who have been in the field. Different times that they’ve gone through a lot and their twists and turns, they’re just going to be twists and turns. So I offer that is I hope it’s small, it’s some comfort, even if it’s small comfort.

So, we have five minutes left. I’m told we definitely have to finish before the end of the hour. Somebody asked about the link that Alex shared what we’ll do and I’ll talk to our am organizers about this is, will provide if you go to quarter leadership partners and go to insights you can find that article What do recruiters want to see in a resume. We also have tips in there about interview skills. I have my article and founder syndrome which Becky dealt with.

So, you know, please call us if you can reach out to any of us our emails are on the website.

Anything that any of my panelists want to say in a wrap up or any questions, Stephen. You’ve been great about identifying the key questions. So is there anything else. Stephen that you think we could address.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: So, one person asked, can you talk about which we’ve talked about earlier career. We’ve talked about kind of those that are directors and how to work effectively with boards.

Can you talk about mid-career senior museum professionals being concerned that hiring managers will think that they’re too expensive or not nimble enough?

How does one present oneself as being not just a good candidate but a great candidate and really investing, but making themselves as opportunistic and available to perhaps hiring managers search committees organizations.

And this could really be open to anyone on the panel that might be able to dress. So thinking about how does one really position themselves in the best light that would enable them to stay the course in this field. They are so passionate about.

Becky Beaulieu: I will. I’ll just offer my own experience, which may help because I moved from senior leadership role of managing the Finance and Administration at an academic institution at Boston College in Brunswick made before I came.

Into my position at the Florence Griswold Museum. And I think making a upward move in museums. One of the things that I found that really helped me was to speak as many different languages at the museum.

As I could. So, part of that was having a background in content and curatorial and an academic work, but then also really honing my skills.

With finance and administrative management and legal expertise. So that may not work for everyone, but as Nardi was saying earlier, there isn’t necessary necessarily a linear, linear trajectory or structure.

And I find that as much as I have been able to pivot in my career and it’s benefited me ascending to the position. I’m in right now. And hopefully moving forward.

I also really encourage my team to take advantage of opportunities to enhance their knowledge base and their comfort level.

With different areas of the museum. We all talk about the idea of not siloed departments, the more that you can speak the language of other departments that you can be empathetic to other work in the museum, whether or not you’re directly doing it and to be an ally and a collaborator, I find that to be really helpful, especially in a museum of my size. So, I would, at the very least, to offer that both with my personal experience and hiring for others.

Belinda Tate: I will say in my career, I’ve always been able to rely on my vision and creativity as a problem solver and museums face many, many challenges right now.

Belinda Tate: And anyone who can come up with creative ideas that are innovative and actionable is very valuable to institutions. So when I moved from my former position, which was also as director of a small academic museum to the AIA I really feel that I was hired based upon presenting a set of solutions that I was confident that I could implement for that institution to help them solve the challenges that they were facing and that is ongoing and so I would say you know Museum. People are creative people. So don’t forget to simply rely on your own creative abilities.

Naree W.S. Viner, Koya: On that note, with one minute left. I want to thank everybody who is who agreed to be a panelist. I want to thank everybody who took time to participate.

Please reach out to any of us from Korea via our website Korea partners com and I wish everybody luck and staying healthy and safe through the rest of this tough period. Take care everybody.

Stephen Milbauer, Koya: Thank you all.

Alexandra Corvin: Bye. Thank you. Bye bye.

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