Friday will be my last day at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. It’s been fun — but more importantly, it’s taught me what I need to do to get the job I want.
Don’t get me wrong, this has been a fantastic time. I am so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to work with the curator here (he’s a walking encyclopedia) and write special tours. I just don’t think it’s what I’m meant to do for the rest of my life. I definitely want to stay in the museum studies profession. I love museums, preservation, collections, and working to make it as accessible to the public as possible. It’s a fantastic way to continue informal learning for people of all ages, which I think is necessary in society. I’m just not sure I want to be the one researching, writing, and citing the tours.
I’ve learned from this internship that I want to work with the business side of museums (and potentially nonprofits, by extension) with event planning (possibly development?) and, maybe someday, reaching an executive director position. I definitely appreciated working with the more creative side of a historic home, but there’s only so much interpretation that can happen with historically based facts and ideas. When you’re charged with presenting information in the most unbiased way possible, you don’t have a lot of creative control. I think in a curatorial position I would want complete creative freedom — which will never, ever happen. In light of this realization, I’ve chosen to go the opposite direction, and work with making sure that everything that keeps a museum up and running happens smoothly.
I’m thankful for this internship on the level that it helped me see museum careers in practice. Although most people go into internships thinking that they’re going to discover what they want to do, I discovered that there might be better paths for me. This realization surprised me, but I’m glad that I did the internship and the internship did its job: I’m many steps forward in figuring out what my purpose is, and how I can contribute best to the world.