Not long ago, a colleague told me she had spoken at a graduate museum studies program and was astonished at how many students envisioned their future as a consultant, rather than working in an institution. That's a big change from my own graduate school career where we imagined being directors, curators and an educator or two. I never quite imagined the path that my career has taken, and this summer, I'm taking the opportunity to join with several other colleagues in a consideration of what's next.
The idea for a consultants' retreat came about from a conversation where I was asked, in an overall conversation about strategic planning, if I had a plan myself. I laughed, and despite extensive work on strategic and interpretive planning, sheepishly said no. And then I called four other museum consultants in New York State whose work I value and admire--and guess what--none of them had a plan either. So we decided to have a little mini-retreat where we all brought our concerns, hopes and ideas to the table to get feedback and assistance from the rest of the group.
We're still working out how our time together will work. We'll do some sort of career review--both the short-term and the long term (as one participant said, "I'm big on overarching narratives). We'll think about the work we liked best and the work we liked least--and how to generate more of the former and less of the latter. We'll talk about if and when collaborative consulting works, and how our various frameworks for both organizing and promoting our work serve us. We may even come out with some frameworks for individual plans. And I'm sure that we'll have a great time reflecting, talking and laughing over food and drink.
But I want to hear from blog readers out there. If you're a consultant, what do you wish you had time to think about? If you want to work as a consultant, why and what do you imagine your career will be like? And for all of you, what's the next act in your museum life?