By Meghan Dohogne and Emma Priesendorf
Why did you want to join the Career Development Cohort?
Meghan: My hope was to connect with professionals in the Kansas City community outside of the traditional academic field of history. I also hoped to connect with other members of my cohort for future opportunities.
Emma: After I finished my undergraduate degree, I worked in the museum field for a few years. During that time, I felt like I got really good at networking. When I came back to school, I noticed that, in just a few short years, some of my writing and research skills had diminished. I applied for the Career Development Cohort because I wanted to ensure that the skills I had built as a young professional wouldn’t similarly diminish during my time in graduate school.
Who did you get to meet with?
Meghan: Joel Jones: Kansas City Public Library-Deputy Director of Library Services, Eric Ward: Linda Hall Library-Vice President of Public Programming, Catherine Futter: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art- Director of Curatorial Affairs, Stacie Peterson: World War I Museum-Exhibitions Manager and Registrar
Emma: Mark Adams, Education Director at the Truman Presidential Library; Monique Johnston, Director of Education Programs at the Missouri Humanities Council; Jennifer Ingraham, Assistant Vice President for Development at the UMKC Foundation; Eric Ward, VP of Public Programs at Linda Hall Library.
What great advice did you hear?
Meghan: I was very open to each meeting that I participated in and tried to actively glean something interesting in relation to the perspective of the career professionals I was meeting. Joel Jones imparted a sense of celebration in diversity of background that large organizations were seeking in their hiring practice. Eric Ward echoed my feelings of widening community engagement in organizations that were originally thought of as unwelcoming. Catherine Futter gave me a lot of hope for the role of the curator in museums and in cultural contexting in general. To relook at a static collection through a new perspective or lens is something I find extremely fascinating. Stacie Peterson left me hopeful that there could be some partnership with her in the future.
Emma: Everyone I met with was really encouraging about the value of a humanities-centered education, which was very refreshing. Some of the most practical advice I heard included specifics that I should include on the next iteration of my resume (Eric Ward), how to recognize and embrace the new opportunities that come along (Monique Johnston), how introverts can succeed in seemingly extroverted jobs (Jennifer Ingraham), and details on why it’s not always a bad thing to have a “pivoting” moment in your career (Mark Adams).
In what ways did you improve or change your personal networking style?
Meghan: I prepped pretty well for all of the meetings but I think something I learned that may be of benefit in the future is to have a clear concise idea about how I may be able to work with the person I’m meeting in the future. Even if that is just identifying that they may be a friend, I think by thinking through potential partnerships I could have created actionable items post meeting.
Emma: Back when I was working full time, if I went to a networking event, there was usually something specific I had in mind. I always looked for partnerships that would benefit the programs I oversaw. For these Career Chat meetings, I found that I was much more open to listening and learning. I didn’t have any expectation and just wanted to learn as much as I could, which made it a really enjoyable experience.
Did you get any new ideas about what a career in the humanities could look like?
Meghan: The biggest “new” idea that came from this series of meetings is not to underestimate how transferable and desired your skill set is to future employers.
Emma: I loved that the four people I met with were in totally different types of organizations and roles. I definitely feel like my perception of what’s possible with my degree has changed for the better.
Any advice for future Career Cohort members?
Meghan: Be open to connecting with people outside your immediate interests. Everyone has an experience that you can relate from and learn something new.
Emma: Be on time. Make sure to send a thank you—you never know what kind of reply you might get! And above all, don’t be afraid to talk and ask questions. That’s what you’re there for, and these people are awesome. They want to help.