To be honest, there are far more freshly minted museum studies graduates than there are museum jobs. But that doesnít mean you should give up on your dream of becoming a museum professional. If you are patient enough, eventually you will land the job of your dreams!
Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction:
Volunteer! If you canít find a paying gig, become a volunteer or intern at a museum. Aim to volunteer within the department you hope to work in someday. If you want to be a curator, volunteer in the collections or exhibition department. If you want to be a museum educator, volunteer as a docent. Potential employers love to see that you are committed to your career path, even if there isnít an immediate opening. And if youíve got a bunch of student loans to pay off and you canít afford to volunteer exclusively, try volunteering for special events. You will be able to work around your work schedule and still pay the bills.
Network. Use your alumni network, professional organizations, conferences and social media to make connections in the field. Not all job announcements are posted in the places you regularly look for jobs. Sometimes you do have to ďknow someoneĒ to get your foot in the door.
Polish Your Resume. After you establish a professional network, ask someone you respect (who also has a job you want!) to review your resume. He or she can help you improve your chances by identifying weaknesses in your experience or training, improving your text, and even creating a better design. Ask them to review your cover letter too. If it doesnít catch their attention, it wonít get you an interview either.
Create a Strong Portfolio. Most museum studies programs provide students with plenty of opportunities to create meaningful projects that look great in a portfolio. Internships often produce great portfolio materials too. If you havenít had a lot of professional experience, include a paper on a museum topic that earned you an A or other relevant academic materials.
Stay flexible. Chances are the first museum job you get isnít going to be your dream job. You might need to take a paying job in another area of museum work before you get the job you really want. At a larger museum, entry level positions often lead to bigger opportunities down the road, so be patient. If you are flexible about location, you will open up many more opportunities for yourself than if you concentrate your job search on one city or even one state.
For more museum career advice, check out this highly recommended book: