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We are all Riding the Struggle Bus Together



Dear Young Museum Professional,


Some weeks you have to ride the struggle bus. Here is another tale of my trip on said bus so you know you are not riding alone.


At my current museum, they are giving me more and more responsibility. I am redoing the volunteer manual, planning a docent recruitment drive, and crafting two months' worth of socially distanced summer camp. These jobs are exactly what I wanted to do in the field; they give me a sense of fulfillment. Sadly, there is a catch.


I am not a full-time employee. Over the past months, I have been attempting to complete these projects while very part-time. My main job duty is to supervise self-guided tours. If there is a visitor at the museum, nothing else is getting done.


The complexities of how to handle the situation cause even more stress. I want guests to enjoy their visit. They should feel like I am completely committed to assisting them. Part of my brain is happy they have chosen to learn by coming to the museum. Another part of my brain wishes they would leave as I have things to be getting on with. Then, there is the issue of the museum closing for inclement weather. When you are working on time-sensitive projects as an hourly employee, you need your hours. Did I want to drive to the museum in sub-zero temperatures this week? No. However, as previously mentioned, I have things to be getting on with. I inevitably end up working on projects at home without clocking the hours. My bosses don’t expect this. They would be fine with the quality of work I could complete during my allotted hours, but I’m just not happy with that quality of work. My hopes and dreams for the projects don’t turn off when I leave the museum; screw work/life balance.


Likely, many of you are facing similar situations. Some will be making similar choices to mine; others are taking the opposite route. Every path is fine. The struggle bus has many destinations. Know your choices are valid. Know the stresses you are experiencing are valid. We will get there eventually. Full-time jobs for every passenger on the young museum professional struggle bus.

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