Interview with Rachael Dickson for John F. Kennedy University

Rachael Dickson graduated from the Museum Studies MA/MBA program at John F. Kennedy University (JFKU) in 2015. She now works at an academic gallery or museum as the Director’s Executive Assistant and Curatorial Coordinator. Thank you for your feedback, Rachael!

Why did you choose the John F. Kennedy University?
JFKU had the dual MBA/MA in Museum Studies program. Also, I wanted to be in the Bay Area.

What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?
This is such a tough question. I think the Museums and Communities class with Margaret Kadoyama was the most valuable and really opened my eyes.  I also loved Collections II – Preventive Conservation. Our professor Susana Macarron came to us with significant museum experience and all of our assignments allowed us to directly apply what we learned to real life situations.

What particular skills were taught in the program?
I was a collections specialty on top of the MBA so I gained a lot of art handling and collections process skills. The MBA also gave us a many useful tools such as accounting, organizational communications, and leadership skills. I think that what I gained from the program was more in perspective than in technical skills. I really came away with the understanding that museums should serve the community.

Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?
I did a combined Thesis/MBA Capstone. My topic was the logistical considerations of museums participating in public art projects. 

Where were you and your classmates in your career? Just out of undergrad, or coming from an entry-level museum position, or coming from outside of the field, etc.?
When we started I was the youngest. I was right out of undergrad. Most of my classmates were about 2 to 5 years older than me and were either doing internships in the field or working outside the field. There were a few who were coming back to school mid-career from outside the museum field. 

Related, who would you recommend your program for?
I would recommend my program for those who want to work in the museum field particularly in collections or education.

Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?
I found my own housing. It is a challenge to find housing everywhere in the Bay Area because the price and demand are so high. I lived in San Francisco but most classmates lived in the East Bay. We all had to commute in some way to school.
Did you or any/many of your classmates have part or full-time jobs while attending JFKU? Were these jobs mainly to help pay the rent or focused on gaining paid experience in the museum field?
I had 2 part time jobs for my first two years then a full time job during my last year. All of my jobs/internships were in the art/museum field but they were also to pay rent. Most people were working at least part time and doing internships. And we had about five people who were full time. Everyone was working in a related field so their jobs were definitely a combination of needing to pay bills and gaining experience.

Any other insider information you would like to provide about your program or university?
The professors at JFKU have so many connections in the museum field and are always willing to connect you to them.
Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?
You are going to have to do a lot of unpaid internships and that can be tough, but in the end it will all pay off and you will get to do something you love.

Thank you again to Rachael for providing some insight into JFKU’s Dual Degree program for Museum Studies MA/MBA! If you would like more information check out the blog post or their website. As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, feel free to say something below or contact me!


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