advice


Today, a roundup of resources for ’emerging professionals,’ ‘young professionals,’ ‘early career historians’ etc. 

This terminological problem (are you young? new? early?) is a clue to some growing pains associated with professionalization, of museum work particularly.  Old informal career paths marked by apprenticeships and being in the right place at the right time (grizzled museum professionals often start their stories “one day I walked into the museum and they gave me a job”) have not been wholly supplanted by degree programs, and no one quite knows what to do with folks just starting out.  This elision of ‘young’ and ‘new professional’ is also problematic for people moving into the field from other careers.  Here are some groups dedicated to easing entry into museum and history professions.

The AAM has an Emerging Museum Professionals Committee for folks in the first ten years of their career.  There were various sessions for EMPs at the recent Chicago meeting.  No website, but you can email them to get on a mailing list.

The Young Museum Professionals blog offers advice and community for ‘new museum professionals,’ with posts on topics such as avoiding burnout and working in intergenerational workplaces.

The AASLH seems very dedicated to nurturing new professionals.  Their mentor program pairs early career folks with seasoned veterans for professional guidance and networking, even help in navigating the AASLH’s annual meeting.  The program is so popular that there’s a six month waiting list, so get on the list now.  I met with my assigned mentor last week, and she was very friendly and gracious and knowledgable and helpful.

And lastly, a group of folks from the History of Science Society have been organizing a Graduate and Early Career Caucus, and we have a nice wordpress site, mostly set up by Lynnette Regouby from Oklahoma, with resources and information for folks in the early stages of their careers in the history of science.

 Any other resources to suggest?

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Ms. Mentor’s column in the CoHE was even more incisive than usual this week (or do I think that because it was about dissertating?)

If you can isolate yourself totally from the stream of yammering humanity, do it for the first draft. Lock yourself in your carrel. Hide out in mountain caves. Let beauty-school students practice pedicures on you while you scribble.

Encourage roommates to surprise you with treats, but only on Fridays after 5 p.m. Ignore their grumbling. Put your fingers in your ears and chant, “La la la la la.” True friends will understand.

Many people, of course, won’t, and the Dissertation Era (which Ms. Mentor hopes will not be a Dissertation Decade for you, as it sometimes is for unfortunate literary scholars who must work as adjuncts in three places and grade thousands of compositions while grinding out their great opuses) may mean giving up on those people who, well, aren’t into you.

If we take this premise as given, the question then is how to isolate oneself from everything and everyone detrimental to writing.

As many folks do, I’m trying to nurture a career as well as writing a diss–connecting with people, working with associations, writing grants for my museum and generally professionalizing it, writing articles (this is only theoretical at the moment)…   But the work I want to do doesn’t at all require a PhD (maybe an MLS, really, if anything), and practical experience in the field might count more for future employment.  I need to be doing other things as well as dissertating–but that doesn’t mean that a lot of the social can’t drop out.

It comes down to this:  when I finish the diss., I won’t have to worry about it anymore.  I can devote my energies to other things.  That rosy image of my future, plus my mountain hermitage, should help spur me to finishing soon.

I started writing a lovely little map on showmewhere.net for my upcoming talk at HSS, mapping the locations of advertising medical institutes in Chicago 1880-1950, which shows very conclusively how ubiquitous these places where, even if they are pretty obscure now. However, showmewhere has been down these last few weeks and I’m not sure how to map my data. I downloaded the googlemaps API, but I don’t have the skills to work with it easily. Any ideas? Other useful web applications for creating interactive maps?