Mariko Chang graduated from the Museum Studies MA/MBA program at John F. Kennedy University in 2013. She currently works as a Membership and Events Manager at a nonprofit news organization. She also serves on her regional museum board. Thank you for your feedback Mariko!
Why did you choose the John F. Kennedy University?
Because of its reputation for placing students in jobs post-graduation, proximity to my current job at the time, referral from friends and colleagues, and the fact that I could continue to work while getting my degree.
How many of your fellow students were already working or otherwise located in San Francisco before beginning the the program there?
Out of our cohort, I’d say that over half of the students were already working in the field, and nearly everyone was located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?
I enjoyed Lydia’s finance and nonprofit organization course. It was one of the most rigorous courses we had, and I am still drawing on the skills and knowledge that we learned from it, such as how to read a 990.
What particular skills were taught in the program?
Writing, and the importance of good writing as well as presentation skills.
Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?
Yes, hybrid business models for arts nonprofits. I completed the MA-MBA program.
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.?
Most of us were “emerging.” We had a few years of professional work under our belts and most were already working in the museum field in assistant or coordinator roles.
Related, who would you recommend your program for?
JFK did an excellent job of recruiting diverse cohorts, but one thing that we all had in common was a passion for museums and means of informal education.
Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?
Housing was not provided. I was fortunate enough to live with extended family during my graduate years, but I can imagine that it’s been getting increasingly difficult to find housing in the East Bay.
Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?
Just be sure that graduate school is something you’re ready for. It can be one of the most rewarding and stimulating times of your life, as long as you’re open to embracing it.