Not Just Dream Jobs!

Teresa
February 24, 2016

High School Interns working with Met staff

Teens working with Assistant Conservator Katherine Sanderson. Photograph by Maureen Coyle

«One day during lunch, I bumped into a woman at The Frick Collection who, after recognizing me as a Met intern by my lanyard, exclaimed, "Working at the Met was the best thing that has ever happened to me!" She was actually a volunteer for the Met, and she gushed about how much fun she had every day working at the Museum, calling it her second home. It seems that this passionate sentiment is reflected in all Met staff.»

What's shocking to me is that most of the staff members I've spoken to didn't know that working in a museum would be their dream job, and in fact, came across a career at the Met purely by accident! For example, there's Exhibition Design Manager Dan Kershaw, who applied for a job at the Met on a whim after his previous company had folded. Kershaw interviewed with the Museum's Design department, but, because there were no open positions in the department at the time, decided to take a job in advertising.

Five years later, Kershaw was surprised to receive a call from his interviewer at the Met about a job offer. Despite the lower salary, Kershaw accepted the offer in a heartbeat, and felt this call was a miracle. He had no idea his resume was kept for so long. As he spoke with us high school interns, he seemed to exude passion and excitement with every word.

Exhibition Design Manager Dan Kershaw in the galleries of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Photograph by Jackie Neale Chadwick

Exhibition Design Manager Dan Kershaw in the galleries of the Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Photograph by Jackie Neale Chadwick

I also had the chance to meet Mark Polizzotti, publisher and editor-in-chief in the Editorial Department, who also stated that he came across his job unexpectedly. He had planned to become a professor, but upon realizing that academia wasn't the right fit, decided to jump into publishing. When an opportunity to work in publishing at the Met opened up, Polizzotti accepted it, excited to see where this journey would take him. Now, he's been working in publishing for over thirty years—and he's never looked back.

Mark Polizzotti, publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Editorial Department, in the galleries of the Deparment of Modern and Contemporary Art. Photograph by Jackie Neale Chadwick

Mark Polizzotti, publisher and editor-in-chief in the Editorial Department, in the galleries of the Deparment of Modern and Contemporary Art. Photograph by Jackie Neale Chadwick

Betsy Gibbons, assistant museum educator for High School Internships, also had an interesting journey toward working at the Museum. Like Polizzotti, she initially planned on becoming a professor. Gibbons took on three jobs: one running an organization with middle school groups, one working as an adjunct professor, and one working at the New-York Historical Society. She found that she loved working in museum education best because it combined all of her interests in art and teaching.

Betsy Gibbons, assistant museum educator for High School Internships, leads a guided tour. Photograph by Filip Wolak

Betsy Gibbons, assistant museum educator for High School Internships, leading a guided tour. Photograph by Filip Wolak

I have to admit that I also came across this internship pretty much by accident, and I had no idea what to expect. However, what I've realized is how much I enjoy working in museums and love working with peers who exude a passion for art. It's an inspiring environment, both to be surrounded by masterpieces and to work with people who are so excited to come to the Met each day.

Have I found my dream job here at the Met? I'm not sure yet, but what this internship has taught me is that there's a wide variety of careers in the world. We're not just limited to the dream jobs that we named in kindergarten, like becoming a police officer, doctor, or teacher. A recent Forbes article stated that the majority of Americans are unhappy at work.[1] This makes sense to me, as I'm always hearing people complain about their work and talk about quitting their jobs, but this kind of culture doesn't exist here at the Met. It gives me hope that there is a job in the world that will satisfy all of my varying interests—one that will be "the best thing that has ever happened to me."

So, to all you teens who feel lost career-wise, here's some advice to you: don't lose hope, keep your options open, and definitely take advantage of all of your opportunities. Your journey can even start here when you apply for an internship at the Met!

Note

[1] Forbes: Susan Adams, "Most Americans Are Unhappy At Work" (June 20, 2014)

Related Link

Applications for summer 2016 High School Internships are now available. Apply online.

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Teresa was formerly a high school intern with the Museum's High School Internship Program.