As a fifth year Arts student, a question I am constantly asked is “So… do you have any plans for next year yet?” When asked about my career plan two years ago, I had a confident answer: I was going to work in public policy.
However, through work experience, I have discovered that I do not want to spend the majority of my day at my desk and that my passion is to work directly with people. This does not work very well with my previous plan. It was challenging to admit that my initial plan (which had been so reassuring) was not actually the right path for me — especially with my graduation date creeping closer every day.
So this reading week, I spent a day exploring an alternative career through the Career Centre’s Job Shadow program. I was excited to learn a lot about what a “hands on” job might look like, and Sharon, the program manager at Arts and Heritage St. Albert, definitely showed me the ropes!
It was challenging to admit that my initial plan was not actually the right path for me.
We started off the day with a tour of the St. Albert Arts and Heritage Museum, then set off to St. Francis Xavier high school. There, Sharon delivered a presentation about Métis history and its influence in St. Albert. I was impressed that she was able to turn a serious presentation into a casual conversation without losing any of the meaning and importance behind it.
Afterwards, we returned to the museum and prepared for the Métis flag raising at St. Albert Place. Members from the Métis community in St. Albert gathered, and elementary and junior high schools contributed a prayer and a small informative speech about Métis influence in St. Albert. The president of the St. Albert-Sturgeon County Métis Local and the newly-elected mayor, Cathy Heron, shared a few words to announce the introduction of Métis week in St. Albert! It was amazing to see relationship building between nations in real life, rather than from academic papers in my political science courses.
In the afternoon, I explored the archivist perspective of the museum environment. I learned a lot about a fascinating profession that I hadn’t even considered. The archivists enthusiastically shared their experiences with me, walking me through their career journeys and giving me tips on how to learn more about the field.
Collaborative co-workers can extend your knowledge and spark your interest in new areas.
While I learned a lot of practical information about museum careers and program management, the value of my job shadow program was much more personal. Throughout the day, three main lessons continuously came up:
1. Where you work is important. The conditions and duties of a job can differ between workplaces, even if the career “title” is officially the same. Collaborative co-workers can extend your knowledge and spark your interest in new areas. I know now that I want to work with people, because I am my best self when on a team.
2. Put time into your passions and pursue them with genuine enthusiasm. Volunteer, network and be open to opportunities. Through speaking to many people at the museum, I learned that simply being open and cultivating your interests can lead to new opportunities. It has encouraged me to reflect on what my most meaningful interests and passions are, and how I can develop them further.
3. Be open to change and learn how to adapt in the workplace. Different coworkers will bring their passions and expertise into the workplace — embrace it! They will have different ideas and this combination can revolutionize your organization’s success. It was amazing how diverse each employee’s backgrounds was — no one came from the same educational field.
Overall, the staff at the museum were open, welcoming and generous with their knowledge. The passion that they have for their roles shone through with every interaction I experienced, and this has made me reflect about what I want to share with my community.
I expected to discover what it would be like to work in a museum. Instead, I ended up learning about the importance in finding a community to share my passions and interests, where I am able to mold my career around what I love.
Want to host a student in 2018 for February’s Job Shadow Week? Please fill out this form to find out all the ways that you can get involved with the Faculty of Arts.
Guest posts present the experiences and viewpoints of Arts students, faculty, staff and alumni. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.