Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bona History Grad at the Old Jail Art Center (Mary Schrader)

It wasn’t very long ago that you would have found me in Dr. Horowitz’s office, on the verge of tears “not knowing what I was going to do with my life.” Ah… the quintessential question we all face senior year, “What am I going to do after graduating?”
          Over two different summers during my undergrad career, I interned at the National Archives and Records Administration in DC and worked at an archaeological dig site in Tuscany, Italy. It was from these experiences, and reading History Wars from the historiography class, that I landed on wanting to work in museums.
          In between being an RA, a typical senior and writing my senior thesis, I plowed through graduate school applications. Paying through the nose to take the GRE (TWICE!), and let’s not forget how expensive application fees are, I mentally prepared myself for two more years of school.
          It all paid off, though. As February rolled along, so did the graduate school acceptance letters. My despair soon changed from, “What am I going to do with my life?” to “Where am I going to go to school?” Poor Dr. H. witnessed all of my distress but ultimately gave me the best advice: go where your heart is. Great advice when I was deciding between Arizona State University, Baylor University, and Syracuse University; completely different areas of the country, while my boyfriend (now fiancé) was staying at Bonas for the IMC program.
          Everything worked out swimmingly, and my decisions seamlessly fell into place. Syracuse University offered me a TA position, which made my decision to attend SU a no brainer.  Graduate school for free? I think, yes! Come the fall of 2011, I was enrolled in the graduate program of museum studies at Syracuse University and teaching the undergraduate course History of Design.

        I love how diverse history is. Everything and everyone has a history; you just have to be patient and open to seeing it. Design is something I never thought about, but there’s an interesting history behind it!
         During my two years at SU I experienced all facets of the museum world. From curation to collections to education to installation, I did it all, and loved it all. The summer in between my years at SU, I participated in two internships: for half of the summer I lived in Death Valley, CA working with the National Parks Service at the historic house, Scotty’s Castle, (this is a yearly PAID internship, so I encourage people to apply!); and the second half I worked at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY (they are always looking for interns, sadly unpaid, but still apply!).
          Shortly after taking my comprehensive exams, I began the exhausting job application process. During my last semester I applied to approximately 50 jobs; which led to 4 different interviews, 2 jobs offers, and 1 accepted offer.
         I am currently the Outreach Coordinator at The Old Jail Art Center ( I am the outside face of the museum, providing education and outreach to visitors, both in-house and off-site: I travel to schools with selected pieces from the museum’s collection and teach with them; I provide tours; I write educational content for the museum, and many other things. Even though I work in a fine arts museum, I approach the collection with a historical mindset, always looking for the social, political and economic impact/story being told.
        Working with primary documents and artifacts never gets old.
        If anyone has questions about the museum field or museum MA programs, don’t hesitate to ask:

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