The 11 posts in 11 days from the SHA Class of 2011 Museum Minute countdown continues today with a post from…ME!
I attended an information session about the Seminar for Historical Administration at the 2010 American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. While there, Rich Cooper, a recent participant (as well as a NURFC colleague and fellow University of Cincinnati, Department of History alum), told me I needed to meet this guy named Bob. So I did. Most people know Bob as the Vice President for Programs at AASLH, but if you’re a member of the SHA Class of 2011, he’s simply BeattyBeattyBeatty, Grand Poobah of the SHA program. At that AAM information session, I also met Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, a recent SHA participant and CEO, at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Cinnamon and I bonded as we skipped the remaining afternoon sessions that day to check out the American Idol finale red carpet festivities taking place just outside of the convention center.
Can you really blame us?
Anyway, after hearing about SHA I knew I needed to participate, but 2010 wouldn’t work for me – I was getting married that November, right in the middle of that year’s program. I promised to apply in 2011, and I did.
I was counting down the days to SHA. October 2011 couldn’t arrive fast enough. Truth is, I had hit a brick wall. I was frustrated. Disappointed. Overworked. I would even say, professionally depressed. I love museums but I wasn’t feeling the love in return from my institution. I even began to question if I had made the right career choice. My husband wondered this too.
Then SHA happened.
I was immersed into a history junkie support group. We each had our specialties, challenges, war stories and professional goals. The thing that I appreciated most about SHA was all of the fun we had. Don’t get me wrong – SHA is a challenging, professional, thought provoking experience. You will be pushed to your limits. You will push people’s buttons. You will define, redefine and then redefine, again, your role in the field. You will also have the best and brightest in the field presenting to you, engaging with you, and asking you questions – and expecting answers – we’re the up and coming leaders, after all.
But one thing SHA brought me back to that I hadn’t experienced in some time was the fun of my profession.
Between the field trips, inside jokes, late night museum theory discussions, card games, confessionals, debates, bad jokes and therapy sessions I fell in love with my job and my role in the history field, again.
I had a unique perspective that was respected by my newfound co-conspirators, who’s perspectives I, in turn, respected very much (to the extent that one even jokingly gave me a nickname – the Oracle – because, he said, when I talked about my specialty, social media and its potential in our field, people seemed to stop and take notice).
This post is getting long, and the longer it gets the more it will morph into a love letter to the SHA Class of 2011. So I guess I will wrap up by simply saying: thank you. Thank you for building me up. Thank you for listening. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for believing in me. And thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to do what I do. The SHA Class of 2011 will always hold a special place in my heart.
And no, Dr. Phil is not one of the presenters. But if you need someone to talk to (or shake you, or challenge you), John Durel is second to none. Side note: Just don’t be late… He hates that.
“Why Should You Attend SHA?”
#11: Attending professional conferences is no substitute for the SHA experience! (Bob Hart)
#10: SHA is the optimal learning environment. (Kyle McKoy)
#9: SHA: Unbeatable professional training & powerful personal relationships (Mark Sundlov)
#8: SHA: A Fertile Environment for Real Learning, Powerful Networking & Organizational Change (Jason Crabill)
#7: SHA is a Career-Changing Experience (Becca Loofbourrow)
#6: SHA reminded me how lucky I am to do what I do (Jamie Glavic)