OMA 2018 Student Scholarship Blog

The Ohio Museums Association is committed to connecting and empowering museum professionals at all stages of their career — including our student and emerging museum professionals!

For our 2018 OMA Annual Conference, OMA was very proud to offer students seeking careers in the museum field, scholarships to attend OMA 2018 in Dayton.

With their unique experience as students heading into the museum field, we wanted to hear from our scholarship recipients about the OMA conference from their perspective.

Below, scholarship winner Jillian Decker shares her 2018 conference experience.  Ms. Decker is a rising Senior in Walsh University's Honors Program, double-majoring in Museum Studies and Business Management with a minor in History.  Jillian is a proud co-president and founder of Walsh's Museum Studies Club, and an Operations and Administration Intern at the Massillon Museum.  

The People Make it Memorable

Much like the museum field in general, I believe that it was the people at the Ohio Museum Association Conference that made this opportunity and experience so memorable.

When it comes to networking I haven’t always felt quite comfortable talking about myself or starting conversations, but networking with museum professionals started to feel natural by the end of the weekend. It was reassuring to realize there was so much we had in common!

I met folks who worked in science centers and historical houses and museums so different from the history and art focus that I am familiar with!

There were directors and curators, managers of memberships and collections from across the state and, of course, passionate Emerging Museum Professionals. We saw beautiful museums and exhibits, listened to tremendous speakers, and learned from the personal experience of other professionals.

There were two connections I made at the event which continue to resonate with me. The first was a feeling and the second was a piece of advice. During the conference there are numerous opportunities to engage with and learn from each other, and one such event was a series of roundtable discussions centered around various themes in the museum profession. I sat with my mentor at a round table he was leading called Engaging Donors and Members. I talked with a woman for almost the whole time who had questions about our Museum’s growth… and she asked me! She was genuinely interested in my thoughts and what advice I could offer, and I was so touched that she treated me as an equal through her tone, expression, and message. I didn’t realize she was the director of her museum until I read her business card later.

The promotion of a respectful, inclusive atmosphere at the conference, particularly demonstrated by this director, is a prominent reason I am looking forward to returning to the conference next year and to someday becoming a museum professional.

The second exceptionally meaningful connection I made was possible because of an introduction by another Emerging Museum Professional. She pulled me aside and said that I had to meet the director of membership at her museum because I would learn so much from him. I am grateful she went out of her way to be encouraging, and that certainly seemed to be a theme for the Conference! This new connection and I talked about all sorts of programs and new ideas, but one piece of advice he gave me regarding creating membership programs has become applicable in multiple areas of my life. He told me “Don’t be afraid to ask for more. If you have a quality product you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a higher amount”. This may seem pretty straightforward, but applied to the museum field, and my education and career goals, it is a monumental piece of advice. I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility, compensation, and success as long as I can present a high quality in return. I will take this piece of advice with me to grad school and future employment along with so many other lessons I learned at the OMA Conference.

Museum people really are special group, and I am grateful to be one of them.