Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We are the Change: Mentorship Round 4

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.
                                                                                           Barack Obama
The winds of change are blowing through museums this year, heading us down uncertain paths, both exhilarating and sometimes scary. For once, it's not the financial shivery wind of a recession, but a deeper gust, about our place and our responsibilities in society. One of the ways to face that change head on, in our field and in our careers, is to work together. We need to reach out collectively to explore not just how to build a career, but how to make museums more vital, more meaningful, more important places to more people. And so, as our field sails on uncertain seas, buffeted by winds of change, it's time once again for my own small mentorship program. 

I started this three years ago because I was impatient with our professional organizations. I wanted to make more of a contribution to the field but on my own terms (those of you who know me will easily recognize that quality of mine). Selfishly, I wanted to ensure I continued on my own path of lifelong learning and generously, I wanted to see how my own knowledge and experiences might be useful in other paths.  I've had an unusual career, from small museum director to running a museum service organization to teaching, to freelance work that now takes me to more places around the world than I ever imagined. Over the last three years, the chance to develop new relationships with amazing colleagues has kept me on that lifelong learning path, expanded my own web of connections, and brought new surprises into my work.  And that's why there's a Round 4.

Do you need a mentor?  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. Your curiosity and passion make great conversations happen for both of us. You might want to explore how your interests and museum work intersect, to learn to work more collaboratively with colleagues, to push interpretive ideas or to consider how to change the field. 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. 

But it's not my solely my perspective that matters in this process. Here's what previous mentees shared with me. They are each very different people, thinking about different ideas and at different places in their career, so a year's conversations were equally varied.

Susan Fohr of the Ontario Textile Museum, a 2015 mentee, wrote:

I've really appreciated having a colleague to whom I could talk on a regular basis about the big ideas and issues facing our profession, in particular interpretation and community engagement. Your willingness to share your professional experiences while encouraging me to share my own perspectives has given me greater confidence to make my voice heard. One of the things that has resonated with me the most from our conversations is something you mentioned during our very first meeting: write! 
Writing does not come easily to me, but some of the work of which I am most proud are things that I have written. Whether it was writing my responses for my mentee application or writing blog posts, I had the opportunity to craft lines of thinking that have never been as fully formed or articulated as I would have liked. There will be a lot to unpack in the new year, and I hope I can continue to develop the ideas we explored together in another forum that involves both conversation and writing!
And Megan Wood, of the Ohio Historical Society shared a longer lookback from her 2014 mentorship:
During my mentorship with Linda, I was at a couple of pivotal points in my career and was making choices that impacted my work and my personal life. Having a sounding board who was totally outside of my sphere, that had no stake in the decisions I made, was really helpful. Even after the mentorship was over and I needed some important career advice, Linda was more than happy to talk with me. On a micro-level, it was also refreshing to talk about ideas and examples for programs and projects I was working on. I find professional conferences refreshing because of the infusion of outside insight and having the monthly call with Linda was like a mini-conference.
The Shape of the Mentorship

We'll schedule hour-long Skype or Google Hangout conversations at mutually convenient times once a month. In addition to the monthly conversations, I'll happily provide feedback, introductions as I can, and loads and loads of opinions.  If I can, I'd love to meet you in person if we can intersect. 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.  It's your mentorship and it's up to you to take responsibility in shaping it.

How to Apply

If you're interested, by December 18, send me an email that includes your resume plus your responses to the following questions. No word count specified. Say what you have to say, short or long.
  • 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?
  • Tell me about a creative hero of yours.
  • What change would you like to see in the museum field?  
  • What non-work related book are you reading?

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 in working with those who 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 graduates and more, from anywhere in the world. Be interesting not dull; have a sense of humor, and demonstrate an interest for the field rather than just in your own career.  This year, I'd love to see applications from people who are making their way into the museum field along non-traditional routes.  I'll make a decision no later than January 7, 2016.

Questions, ask away!


Stanley Workman said...
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Saihah Shamoon said...
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