Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Built Heritage Chat: Preservation Jobs

Today was the #builtheritage chat for May which focused on preservation jobs and employment within the preservation field. The chat was moderated by @jonaskayla, @PresConf, @PresNation, and @PreservationJob. A complete transcript of the chat is available here.

The first question of the chat was What’s more critical to a successful preservation career – degrees or experience? The overwhelming majority of responses emphasized the importance of experience and the diversity of types of experience that organizations are looking for. It was also reinforced that a balance is best: a degree in something, volunteer experience, enthusiasm, and a friendly personality have the potential to contribute to a great preservation career.

Building on the first question the second portion of the chat focused on the question What's your number one tip to recent grads or job hunters? Answers to this question built upon the idea of gaining experience in the preservation field. Volunteering, internships, shadowing, researching, and taking low paying summer jobs were suggestions of ways to gain experience prior to finding that ideal preservation job. Chat participants also emphasized the importance of networking, skill building at conferences and workshops, and becoming involved in your local preservation organizations. It was also noted that the preservation field is wide ranging and hires people with a wide range of skills - human resources, presentation, digital expertise, marketing, etc. - and that grads should took to diversify their strengths.

The third portion of the chat focused on the feel good question, What is the best thing about working in the heritage preservation field? A large portion of the responses focused on the variety of the field, the passion of the people, and the feeling of being involved in something meaningful. A couple of my favourite responses included: "Building something that will strengthen our community. Small towns in Eastern Ontario need help. We can be a catalyst." from @spencervillemil and "inspiring a new set of people - young, old, etc. Getting the message out how important our history is" from @ATHeritageArea.

The last segment of the chat focused on What is the best way to connect with other preservationists? Seeing as how this was a twitter chat it is hardly surprising that many people mentioned social media as a means of connecting. Other mentioned techniques included: conferences, email lists, forums, following up face to face meetings with an email, and meeting up with local organizations while traveling.

In addition to the 'official' questions asked during the chat a few of the chat's participants sparked great discussion with their own questions. @ raised the question: What are some of the current/upcoming challenges for pres. orgs? What skills can employees bring? Responses focused on grant application skills, presentation skills, a working knowledge of the industry, familiarity with the heritage act, and a willingness to learn.

This was a great chat with a lot of great ideas for those looking to become more involved in their local heritage community. The next #builtheritage chat will be on June 1st at 4pm and the potential topic is local engagement.


Kayla said...

Great overview! Though you forgot to mention the serious conversion that was held about food! hahaha

Krista McCracken said...

Haha food and the power of beer!

Sarah Hill said...

This chat is good but doesn't get to the root of the problem. You can have all the experience in the world but it doesn't mean buttons unless there are opportunities to apply for. My concern is that jobs with the provincial and federal government rarely come up and are not 'heritage' jobs - the last one with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture was for a farmer. How can we change a system when they only recruit from within? This is why the sector is stagnating. They need new blood and new ideas!

Krista McCracken said...

You make a good point Sarah. However, the heritage and preservation fields are not exclusively government based. A broad number of organizations have preservation needs - corporate, libraries, churches, towns/cities, post secondary institutions, etc.