The Trials and Tribulations of a Grad School Nerd

A little bit of art (mostly Latin American art), a little bit of an opinion column, the frustrations of dissertation writing, travel, living abroad, and the personal life of a girl who is setting out to conquer the art world (well, as much as she can).
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I flew into Hobby Airport on September 15 and a few days before my return home I started looking for jobs in the arts. I was interviewed over the phone but didn’t get that job at Houston Arts Alliance. But, that turned out to be a good thing because my friend at the MFAH informed me of an opening in curatorial as an admin assistant to Asian Art and the Blaffer Foundation. So, I emailed the HR lady that she told me to contact and I was granted an interview for the position. Now, having an MA may over-qualify me for such a position, but I honestly don’t know what curatorial does or if that’s what I want to do. So, I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to dip my feet in the water and swim around without getting my hair wet. A week later, I was offered the position and I accepted it. Today was my first day.

My bosses seem very nice and willing to work with me. The people within both departments are very nice as well. And all of the people in curatorial that I met today were nice and offered their help while I get settled in. Now, this isn’t exactly a glamorous position, but I have never had a grown up job before. Ever since I was 16 and able to work I have been in retail. That has meant that the past 11 years I have spent weekends and late nights working for the man. It is so nice to be able to have a set schedule doing something that is important. Not that retail isn’t important. I am just happy to be able to work in my field and take the next few years really thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life.

The Asian department has several upcoming shows that are proving to be very exciting. I have always had strong interests in Latin American art (as you can tell from this blog), but this position is allowing me to open my eyes to other regions and areas of art history and I am thankful for that. So, for any readers out there who have their hearts set on a specific area, I say to you to give other areas a chance if you can’t get a job in the specialized area that you want to be. You can always work your way there. Serve your time in the lower rungs, you’ll have more respect for them when you are their boss. And don’t stop writing and submitting abstracts to conferences. Keep active!

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get your dream job right out of the gate. Just because you have your MA or PhD doesn’t entitle you over others. There are lots of us graduating with advanced degrees and entering the work world. It is who you know, unfortunately. Intern and get your name buzzing in people’s ears. Make connections. And don’t be afraid or think it is belittling yourself to take a job that you might be over qualified for (like me being an admin assistant). I have enough time to still be able to pursue some research and writing and am also able to curate small shows around my city (I’ll be posting the blog for my collaborative project in a future post, so be on the lookout!).

The point is, put yourself out there. Don’t look down on smaller jobs. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t get your dream job right off the bat.

I hope that helps put some people’s minds at rest about finding a job or how to start your career. If you have comments or questions, please post them!

  1. gradschoolnerd posted this