I’ll be honest. Until I attended the American Association of Museum conference, I had never heard the term EMP. But after a quick review, I discovered that I am indeed an Emerging Museum Professional. Fresh out of college, completed a great museum fellowship, currently working on my first exhibit. It’s an exciting thing. I pinned the little red badge to my name tag and went on my merry way.
A week later, this post got me thinking about what it means to be an EMP. Here’s my thought process:
- I want/need/have worked for a job in this field.
- I am young, and I have a ton of ideas because I have a diverse, interdisciplinary background.
- I have the opportunity to learn from the people in my museum that have been in the field longer than I’ve been alive.
- I will not, and cannot, be afraid to share my ideas because I don’t have the same amount of experience as the people around me.
- But I am also here to listen and learn, so I need to be humble.
I feel like this approach has gotten me through my first year of working in a department that is full of very well-established museum professionals. I am outspoken and bold, and usually I find my colleagues are excited by this. It’s a very fine line between bold and brash, and I know I’ve crossed it a few times, it is a learning experience.
But EMP’s can’t allow a fear of being judged by our colleagues to temper our value to our institutions and the museum field. The best thing we have to offer is our fresh ideas and new eyes. It is important to learn to speak up because your amazing ideas are worthless if they aren’t on the table. But they are also worthless if no one wants to listen to you.