Posts Tagged ‘young professionals’
Call for Bloggers: The Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden seeks bloggers on issues and trends in public humanities. Since the inception of the MARCH website, bloggers have written on such diverse topics as living history, copyright law, project management, and the viability of digitization and digital history projects.
Desired blog themes include (but are not limited to): civic engagement and shared authority; digital humanities, including reviews of innovative digital tools and/or projects; concerns of emerging professionals; new books about Mid-Atlantic history and culture; and public humanities in New York (city and/or state). Ideal candidates will have demonstrable expertise in their proposed topics and be committed to posting at least once per month, for a modest honorarium. The scope of coverage for MARCH is the region encompassing New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
It’s that time of year when a whole new flock of bright-eyed, idealistic, newly-minted public historians are pushed from their academic nest into the rough and tumble real world. Let’s just say that they are successful finding work in this very competitive field, then they will discover another level of challenges. The one I’m going to touch on today is at the foundation of what we do as public historians. Read more.
For the past two years, I have been a member of Americorps VISTA which is an arm of the American version of the PeaceCorps. I was stationed in a museum where I wrote community outreach programming for inner-city youths. However, my term of service ended in November and I’ve been unemployed ever since. Some folks attempt to reassure me by saying that grad students are expected to be un(der)employed and poor, but being jobless is quickly losing its charms especially since my new landlord has made it clear that he doesn’t accept conference papers in lieu of rent. What does a young public-historian do when she finds herself unemployed and living in a new city? She attempts to network.
A friend once told me that networking is the act of creating and using social interactions to expand professional contacts and opportunities. So, to cope with my unemployment, I have been asking friends, relatives, acquaintances, and strangers about their jobs and I’m calling that networking. For example, last week my roommate and I went to a local brewpub to meet her father and his friend, Walter. Much to her embarrassment, I engaged this Walter character in a conversation about what he does for a living. Shortly after he finished describing his career with excitement in his voice, I suggested in no uncertain terms that he should hire me to help him fly planes to locate the illegal Marijuana farms that dot the Pennsylvania country-side. Apparently, I’m not “qualified” for that position just because I lack a pilot’s license and don’t know what weed looks like.
A few days later at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, I chatted with a uniformed middle-aged park ranger behind the information booth. When I asked her about her position, she replied with a grin and explained that she is retiring in three and a half months. “Can I have your job, please? “That’s not how it works.” “Fine. Whatever lady. Nice hat.”
Maybe grilling people about their careers isn’t exactly networking. For me, the real purpose of asking people what they do for a living is to hear more about jobs I haven’t considered and at the very least it’s a good ice breaker. This morning in the used book store/coffee shop down the street from my apartment, I nonchalantly asked the owner, “is this your dream job?” 25 minutes later our conversation ended with me landing an interview with a friend of hers who owns a used bookstore in a nearby town. Perhaps there is no wrong way to network
Friends and co-workers looking to apply to graduate programs have come to me for advice and it has been satisfying to be able to offer my two cents as a mini-mentor. It is especially important to me to help out where I can because when I first considered applying to graduate school, I really didn’t have any guidance. With a general idea of what I was interested in studying, I relied on a combination of Google searches, graduate student blogs, and blind guessing. Since none of my friends had applyed to graduate school and no one in my family had gone through the process before, who was I supposed to look up to for advice and instruction? It’s not like I could learn from the experiences of reality television role models on programs such as America’s Next Top PhD Candidate, Say Yes to the Stress, Who Never Wants to be a Millionaire, or So You Think You Can Pay off Your Loans. (I hope you’re listening network television producers!) All joking aside, in these planning stages I absolutely would have benefited from having a mentor to guide me through the process.
Relationships between mentor and mentee take different forms, but generally speaking a mentor is a professional who offers encouragement and advice to a younger person looking for direction. These partnerships are invaluable and often teach rewarding lessons that are not covered in a traditional classroom setting.
The large majority of my peers who have meaningful mentor partnerships have linked up with professors with similar research interests but it doesn’t always have to be that way. While professors have guided me through the sometimes murky academic waters, as someone who isn’t primarily concerned with starting a career in academia, I have found professional mentorships to be more valuable. The best lessons I’ve learned have come from job supervisors willing to take me under their wing and teach me how to learn from their mistakes and successes. To me, this is almost a dual mentorship because these folks navigated through similar educational situations, but are also able to offer practical career advice as well.
The first bit of advice I give out to anyone who will listen is to visit the website Freerice.com. It’s an engaging game that tricks people into learning vocabulary, grammar, and math skills. In addition to preparing players for at the very least the GRE, with every right answer the sponsors of the site donate ten grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. Check it out.