Interview with Sarah Wright for Johns Hopkins University

Introducing Sarah Wright who is graduating from Johns Hopkins University in December 2016. She currently works as the Education Coordinator for Family Programs at an art museum. Thank you to her for providing this additional information about her graduate school experience.

 

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins University?

I chose this program because I could continue to gain work experience while also working towards my masters. The remote style allowed me not to worry about where I ended up geographically between the start and end of the program. I also live in Baltimore, so am familiar with the school and know its high standards.

What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?

Anna Slafer, Educational Programs for Museum Audiences

What particular skills were taught in the program?

The program focuses an a ‘big picture’ approach. Because you take courses in all aspects of museums despite your special interests, you come out with an understanding of how museums and non-profits work as a whole.

Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?

No

 

If there was no required thesis or capstone, were any of your classes project based?

Most final course submissions were project based and not just papers. Another element of the program is a 2 week onsite seminar where the group develops a plan around a museum topic along with a partner institution. For example, my seminar was set in New York City and focused on Education. Our host was the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS). We had to come up with a project plan for BHS to connect their site with a satellite location being built in the DUMBO district. We focused on community by-in, marketing, programs, etc. At the conclusion of the seminar we presented our ideas to the director and staff of BHS.
For my current course, I am developing a complete program plan including outcomes, partners, budget, timeline, etc. For the course on exhibition design our final project was, with a team, to design a special exhibition.
Overall, the curriculum has been very ‘usable’. From analyzing budgets in the Business of Museums course, to developing interactive programs, to coming up with a fundraising proposal and writing grants, everything directly relates to what you would do in a real work environment. The projects have varied from course to course, but none have ended with a traditional research paper. They were always much more involved 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.?

It was a mix – many classmates had some museum experience, especially in part-time capacities. There was also a handful who did not have experience but were beginning to volunteer, intern, etc. as well as a few who had worked in other fields for a considerable amount of time and were looking to re-direct their careers.

Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?

Graduate school should be for people who have experience in a field and know that they want to delve deeper into that field. I think this grad program was excellent for my situation. I had had a few years of part-time and internship experience before applying. Now, three years later, I am graduating and have a full time position in a museum department that I love. I credit the program for giving me the background and stamina to get to this position. That being said, programs can’t stand alone. Actual work experience is just as crucial.

Thank you again, Sarah, for these answers. If you would like more information about the program at Johns Hopkins, check out the program’s blog post, their website or more interviews. As always, comment below or contact me if you have any feedback!

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