Monday, December 1, 2014

Abe, You and Me: Mentorship Round 3

“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
                                                  Abraham Lincoln

As regular readers of the blog know, for the past two years I've had my own informal mentor program. I started it, honestly, because of a certain dissatisfaction with the field. I wanted to make a contribution to the future on my own terms (after a round of a number of session proposal rejections) and because I don't work in a museum, there weren't opportunities to mentor colleagues on an organizational basis. I'm continually reminded that our field is facing big, thorny, complicated issues that will take all of our energy to solve.  Taking Lincoln's advice, this project is my small shot at creating that brighter future for museums. It's been an experiment all along the way--but worth continuing. So it's on to Round 3!

What do I bring to mentoring?  I'm a great questioner, wanting you to go deeper in your thinking.  I love connecting ideas and people.  I'm honest with my feedback.  And I care passionately about the museum field and the communities we live and work in.

Who Can Apply

This is open to anyone, at any stage of their career, anywhere in the world.  Sadly my language skills mean you must be an English speaker.  I'm looking for passionate, curious people--because I'm also learning during the year and your curiosity and passion make great conversations happen for both of us.

The Shape of the Mentorship

We'll schedule hour-long monthly Skype or Google hangout conversations at times convenient for us both.  In addition to the monthly conversations, I'll happily provide feedback, introductions as I can, and loads and loads of opinions.  From you, I'll expect two or three blog posts on deadlines we mutually set and of course, active participation and questioning along the way.

But it's not my solely my perspective that matters in this process.  Here's what the three mentees from the last two years shared with me.  As you can see, they are each very different people, so the year's conversations were different for each of them (and me).
Catherine Charlebois: I got to meet someone new, expanding in the process my horizons and having the privilege to access her experiences and sharing thoughts on museum's inner works. 
Each month I was looking forward to our meetings but never (I have to be honest here), had the time to think deeply on what our conversation should be about. I felt bad, because since I was the one who had applied for the mentorship, I should at least prepare something or know what the theme should be... And each time I was just surprised that we didn't need that much directions afterward, it was just the real and authentic pleasure of sharing thoughts, desires and dreams of what museum are and should be that guided us through our conversations and each time these filled up my tank of energy.
Megan Wood: This year of mentorship was great as I transitioned into a new job. It has been valuable to have someone outside my daily life to talk to and get advice from. While many of us have informal mentors, the structure of this pushed me to think about progress from month to month.
Alicia Akins: The opportunities to guest post, be introduced to people, have an unbiased third party take my questions seriously, and to realize that in the midst of learning I could also be learned from have bolstered my confidence and helped me think more proactively about the future.
How to Apply

If you're interested, by December 21, send me an email that includes your resume plus responses to the following questions.  No word count specified.  Say what you have to say, short or long.
  • Tell me about one thing you're particularly curious about--in any part of your life
  • Describe an object in a museum that elicited an emotional response from you
  • What key questions would you like to discuss with me during the year?
  • Share a description of your first creative act 
  • What change would you like to see in the museum field?  

How do I decide?

This is far from a scientific process (the advantage of running my own small project).  I'm interested in mentees that stimulate my own thinking and that I believe will make a contribution to the field.  If your application is primarily about finding a job, I'll be unlikely to select you.  Previous mentees have been both emerging and mid-career professionals. I've seriously considered applications from career transitioners, recent graduate students and more.  Be interesting not dull; demonstrate an interest for the field rather than just your own career. I'll make a decision no later than January 5, 2015.

 Questions, ask away!

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