AMaGA Western Australia Committee member, Michelle Hobbs, tells us about how volunteering your time outside of work hours can be good for your CV, but challenging for your social life.
What is the best way to get involved with the sector and develop your own personal and professional skills and contacts at the same time? Say yes to everything.
That’s right, all the things that you see with ‘volunteers wanted’ or ‘get involved’ or even if you see someone doing something interesting and they haven’t asked for help – offer it anyway. Jump on as many bandwagons as you can find.
But seriously – as fun as getting involved is, over-commitment is a dangerous thing. It can lead to stress, fatigue, burnout and general apathy with your work/career choices, which isn’t good for anyone. So instead I’d recommend striving for the delicate balance of getting involved with things outside of your regular day job, but not to the extent where you no longer have a social life.
The museum sector is a fun place to be, but it is easy to work in a bubble. Often museums are not the core business of whatever organisation funds/operates them, like local governments or societies. We’re usually a side-note, and one which generally doesn’t have a high number of professionals (paid or unpaid). We can become a lonely bunch.
Michelle (left) networking with other sector professionals.
So getting involved in the wider sector is really beneficial for us, our museums and the sector as a whole. We get to meet/talk to other professionals who may have the same issues or projects as we do, we get to learn off people who have been in the industry for a longer (or shorter) time – those new-grads have some pretty good ideas. We also get to give the sector a helping hand. When we’re advocating for something (funding, visibility, professional standards, the list goes on) we’re stronger as a group than individually.
I’ve been involved with a few things outside of my day job as a collections manager and it’s given me a sense of perspective on how museums across WA operate, the different challenges faced in regional areas vs metro, some amazing projects that have been done on tiny budgets, and has allowed me to connect with people around the state who I can call for advice.
I’ve been on the AMaGA WA Committee for three years, and a member of the newCardigan cardicore planning crew for two years and both have challenged me in different ways. The Cardi’s are great for broadening horizons. As a Gallery, Library, Archive and Museum sector networking group it’s been interesting working with two librarians and an archivist to deliver some engaging events for the GLAM people of Perth. Bringing people together from across the sector to share ideas and collaborate has been really rewarding. Stepping into the world of libraries has been on occasion very confusing (No, I didn’t know the different between MARC records and Dublin Core, and I’ll admit I still don’t really understand) but also very useful as the ability to make our museum records and research more accessible online was something they helped me to explore.
The AMaGA Western Australia Committee has a strategic planning meeting (on a weekend!)
AMaGA Western Australia was a more challenging one for me to engage in and it has taken some time to find my voice on the committee and work out what areas I can be most useful in. This year I’ve been pushing myself a bit further by joining the 2021 National Conference Programming Sub-Committee. My interests are in the areas of professional development, training and networking so I thought helping out with program development for the conference would be a good way to try and make sure that the needs of smaller community museums are not overshadowed by the powerhouse that it is the New Museum project in Perth. I’ve also worked with AMaGA WA staff to help pull-off a successful 25th Anniversary event and lent a hand at training workshops for members and member organisations.
AMaGA staff member, Jess, was very grateful for Michelle’s help in organising the AMaGA 25th Anniversary party.
Getting involved in things outside my day job has been great, both in developing professional skills and networks but also just in meeting people and forming friendships. What started out as a strategic move for career development has turned into a love for the work. It gives me a group of people to use as a sounding board for advice, support or a stiff drink after work to unburden myself of challenges. It’s also helped clarify where my skills are and what I can contribute to the different groups across the sector. I highly recommend it – it’s fun, looks good on a CV, gives you a sense of perspective and helps out the whole Museum/GLAM sector. What’s not to love?