The Widening Gap

A couple of months ago, I made the decision to declare two separate majors. It wasn’t really a hard decision to make; in fact, it seemed perfectly logical because I have loved both Art and History since sixth grade. To date, I’m really glad that I picked these majors, so let me just preface this entire post by saying that I don’t regretting choosing my majors, and I doubt that I’m ever going to.Deciding to study the two subjects I love most seemed like a great idea-specially because I was way ahead of most of my friends with my major(s) declaration-but I never really considered what I would do with the two majors once I graduated from college. At the time, any thought about grad school was just a speck on the distant horizon, and I mostly just concentrated on patting my back for actually figuring out what I wanted to do for the remainder of my undergraduate career. At the back of my mind, however, I always just sort of thought that museums would be a good career direction to explore because both my majors seem to apply very well in that general direction.At the start of this summer, I went into my internship thinking that I would possibly like to be a conservator, but I quickly decided that I didn’t have the personality type to actually become one, so that whole idea went right out the window. When we met Suzanne Isken and Suzanne Muchnic, I started to seriously consider going in to either Arts Education or Art writing. Until we met Charlotte Cotton, that is; after we met her, curation got a whole lot more appealing. But then we met Ed Sanchez-an antiquities conservator at the Getty-a week ago, and *poof*. Suddenly, I got right back to square one.This summer, I’ve met a whole array of interesting people with incredible jobs. And more importantly, I’ve met a whole array of interesting people who love their jobs. Ordinarily, all of this should be encouraging, but in truth, all of it is just unsettling. Because most of these people seem to have stumbled into their jobs by accident.Now before people start rolling their eyes and thinking that I’m just a paranoid girl whose hyperventilating about my future (I mean, dozens of people, both in museums and not in museums, fall into their current jobs by accident, right?), hear me out. Almost all the people I’ve spoken with this summer prefaced their little “my career path” schpiel by saying, “I’m not the best person to talk to about my career path because I fell into this job and nowadays you need to have a specialized degree to get the job I currently do and love” or something to that effect. Each and every one of them said that, so I’m guessing that this is a trend. I’m beginning to seriously think that there’s a huge generation gap between current museum professionals and us, because most of them learned a lot on the job. But “falling” into jobs like these seems to be no longer possible, or extremely rare at best. Museums are getting highly specialized, and they are now beginning to look for people who are not going to have to learn things from scratch, and this worries me.What happens to all of us who don’t know what specific field we want to go into? How will “following my passion”-which is what I’m doing with my two undergraduate degrees-help me pick the appropriate graduate school course that I might need to take to actually get hired at a museum?In many ways, I’m glad I have two more years before I graduate, but all of this is confusing. I really wish that things could just work out the old way and that I could just fall into my dream museum job- whatever that might be. But I guess the times are changing. And I’m going to have to keep up with them. *Sigh*