I am here to tell you that it is never too early to attend a conference. Whether you are still a student or currently on the job market, MMA’s joint conference with AASLH is a great place to start if you have even the slightest interest in working in the history or museum fields. So here is my very own top 10 list for students and job seekers.
10. The Travel! Detroit is a beautiful city and attending a museum conference is a great way to experience its culture.
Campus Martius is an awesome place to meet up and hang out!
9. Find Your Museum Peeps! You can find other people who know every word to the opening song from “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Or…maybe that’s just me. The point is, you will be surrounded by other people interested in the same kinds of ideas and questions as you. This year AASLH is even starting an Emerging History Professionals affinity group that you’ll be able to join.
8. Visit Potential Employers! Since we are teaming up with AASLH for this year’s conference, there are loads of extra trips, tours, and site visits to take part. You can see small historic house museums and large institutions, like The Henry Ford while learning about all of the ways YOU could actually work at one of these magical places. Seriously, museums are magical.
7. Show Your Face! One of the best ways to break into any field is to participate. The more people see you around, shake your hand, or hear a question from you after a session, the more they will remember you. And just maybe that person will be sitting down to interview you one day. After hours events are the perfect time to meet and get to know other museum pros. Limit your drinks, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and have fun.
CMU students really got into the fun at the Muskegon conference!
6. Free Swag! You always leave a conference with new buttons, badges, stickers, etc. to perfectly represent your museum/history nerd personality. Seriously, the button swag is strong at this conference.
5. Stay Current! Learn about current trends in the field. Attending sessions and workshops will allow you to learn where the field is headed and pick up on buzzwords that will allow you to impress colleagues, potential employers, and more!
4. Network! There are great networking opportunities. I think we all fear that word and the thought of making small talk sends shivers down our spines, but networking is crazy important. You’ll be able to learn from people working at museums across the country and you never know when the name on one of those business cards will come in handy. At the MMA Lounge, we’ll have a cool place to hang your business card so don’t forget to stock up!
3. Test the Waters! You’ll be able to get a feel for the museum field in general. What kinds of people are working in museums and what are they working on? Does the museum field sound like an exciting, dynamic, and meaningful place for you to make your mark on the world? This is the perfect place to find out.
2. Find a Museum Mentor! Museum people are friendly and helpful. If you have questions about course of study, how to find internships, where to look for job postings or anything else, ask someone. The MMA members will all be sporting a pin with the MMA logo and we’ll be hanging around the MMA Lounge in Cobo. Feel free to find one of us and I’m sure you’ll find someone more than happy to help.
All MMA Members will be wearing a pin with the MMA logo. Find us!
1. Gain Experience! Conferencing is a part of museum life. If you plan on making a career out of this, there will be more of these in your future, so by attending one early, you can be a professional conference-goer when some people may be attending their first one. Additionally, if you are a student, you can register for free if you sign up to volunteer, and working as part of a conference team is a worthwhile experience on its own!
Hopefully this list of reasons to attend has been helpful! Throughout the week our social media posts will be geared toward answering questions that a first time conference attendee may have. If you have any specific questions, leave them on our Facebook page and our team will try to answer them!
Whaley Historic House Museum
MMA Conference Communications Team