Where else can I go with my museum-database experience?
April 8, 2011 9:13 AM   Subscribe

I need help recontextualizing my skillset. I think I’m looking at my resume too literally, and boxing myself in unnecessarily when it comes to looking for other options.

For the past 13 years, I’ve done database-related things for museums (usually, but not exclusively, art museums), about evenly split between collections management and report-writing in a fundraising department. Mostly used Access, but some exposure to SQL Server and a couple of proprietary database systems. In my current job, I’ve also overseen a major data migration, and am managing the process of digitizing an art collection and (theoretically) getting it online. My database skills are largely self-taught, outside of a few Access classes and some training on the proprietary systems.

I’ve also worked as a freelance writer, covering music and human interest stories for local alt-weeklies and magazines. And I’ve had humor pieces run in McSweeneys and some lesser humor sites; a couple of those pieces have been picked up for fairly prestigious anthologies. Although I still do an occasional essay or article, I’ve been more or less out of this game since 2008.

Final piece of the puzzle: I’m a cartoonist. Have had a couple of strips in print (same rags I wrote for), but mostly webcomics.

So, my question: what can I do with all of this that isn’t a museum-database job? Like I said, I have a tendency to take my resume extremely literally and have trouble conceptualizing any other track for my qualifications and abilities.
posted by COBRA! to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Development / fundraising for a college or university (or any other sizable nonprofit) uses most of these skills (not sure the cartooning would be all that useful).
posted by jon1270 at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2011

Just a thought, but maybe something you've already covered: When I find myself getting tunnel vision on job possibilities, I like to get ideas by searching Indeed.com or another job site for a single aspect of my current job responsibilities instead of a position title - ideally an aspect of the job I like, of course. Have you tried something like that? Use broader terms like 'Digital curation' or 'metadata' instead of museum-specific language, of course.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:32 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sounds like you've had a great career!

First thought; librarian.

If you want to head in a new direction, I would try to combine your writing and tech skills into a Tech Writing career. A visit to a tech temp placement agency will let you know if there are tech jobs in your area. (I have a similar background but there are not many jobs like that over by me.)

Also, have you thought of Tech Journalism? It would probably not be steady but it's there.

Do you still want to do DB work? if you do, that is highly portable to things like medical research, commercial databases (any company that keeps track of customers/clients/sales), and other nonprofits. If you want to continue to use your archiving skills, many academic departments are still converting old paper-based records to digital.
posted by ElisaOS at 10:06 AM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: deludingmyself: I've tried something like that, but probably been too museum-specific. Maybe that's something I need to rethink.

ElisaOS: I've never really been clear on how you get started in tech writing, but it's something that's always been appealing. So you'd say a temp agency is the best way to start?

I kind of want to get away from DB stuff, or at least get into a slot where it's part of the game without being the whole game.

Thanks, everybody.
posted by COBRA! at 11:16 AM on April 8, 2011

Suggest you check out "What Color Is Your Parachute". There have been multiple versions and he has some other titles out. In one of his books he had mapped out skills/talents to careers. Helpful if you want to see where else your gifts would be of use. His website may be worth looking at:

Failing that, given that you know your strengths, perhaps a few sessions with a career counselor would be helpful.
posted by PickeringPete at 11:58 AM on April 8, 2011

@COBRA! A couple of my friends got started in the field through tech temp agencies. One of them didn't even have as much tech knowledge as you but turned out to have a knack for it. I don't work in the field so I can't say how _most_ people do it, but I can say how a couple of people did it. I'm certain if you check out 'technical writer' on indeed.com that at least one of the listings will be a temp agency, sure you'd be using each other but they are a foot in the door.
posted by ElisaOS at 5:03 PM on April 8, 2011

If you'd like to stay in museums, you might want to check out some of the stuff discussed at Museums and the Web. Unfortunately you JUST missed this year's conference...
posted by MsMolly at 12:29 PM on April 14, 2011

« Older Breakfast restaurants near Earl's Court, London   |   Vacation: 0 -- Budget Riders: 1 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.