Something happened to me at the end of April. I went for an interview where I figured I had a 50/50 chance of getting the job. That is really the best chance I feel I’ve ever had at a job. I didn’t get the job. It was the perfect job.
The next day I woke up and decided to reevaluate my life. Since 2008 I’ve been on the same path: education in museum studies, work experience in museum studies = job in museum studies. I knew it was time to make a decision. Continue along that same path, or try a new one. I don’t want a career change. I don’t want to leave museums. This is my passion and my life and I’m not ready to give that up. But it seemed clear to me that morning that something had to change.
And the only thing I could think to change was the jobs I was applying for. And since I had been applying for all jobs I had any sort of experience for, clearly that meant the next step was not applying for jobs. So I stopped. I haven’t applied for a job since the end of April and that was quite a while ago.
Instead, I decided to take May and reevaluate everything. What I wanted out of life, where I saw myself in ten years, how important (or not) money was, where I could live, how many hours of the day I was willing to work, whether I was willing to give up things (after already giving up a lot).
And, last month, I came to the conclusion that I want a lot. I don’t think I deserve a lot. I don’t think it’s my right to have a lot. But I want a lot. I’ve travelled the world, completed four university degrees, made friends across countries, studied languages, and seen some of the most beautiful places. And I want that to be my future too (with fewer university degrees). So how to get it?
In the UK, museum freelancing is common. Very common. A lot of people I know do it and did it before their PhDs. It’s how the industry has developed. And I figure, why not here? There are fewer and fewer jobs in this country, and more and more museum graduates. Something has to change. And I feel this is that change. This is where we need to go, if we’re going to keep closing museums, understaffing and underfunding them. This is the only place it can go.
So I am embarking on an adventure. Much like my PhD, I am unsure and terrified, but excited. It will take time. It will take work. But this is the right choice for me. This is the direction I realise I have always been working towards, without realising it. The pieces are all in place, now I just have to put the puzzle together. And I feel able to do that.
So as of June 1st, I am a freelancer and consultant for the museum industry.
Over the coming months, I have a website to create, a blog to set up, and a business plan to write. I am already making contacts and networking with potential clients. I feel good about this. It’s direction. It’s ’employment’. And it feels good.
Now, when people ask me ‘what are you up to? Have you found a job?’ I have an answer. It’s shocking how good that feels.