Recent School of Art + Art History graduate Shelly Threadgill (MA Museum Studies ‘14) got into the habit of checking the internet at least twice a week for new jobs in her field while still working on her thesis during her last semester as a graduate student. Devoting a few hours a few days each week searching and applying for jobs from multiple search engines became a bit tedious, but Threadgill remained determined.
When she spotted the posting for the collections manager position at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) in Salt Lake City, she immediately had a good feeling. Having spent about 10 years in Utah during grade school and having a good friend still living there, she felt it was somewhere she could settle into again and a place where she knew what to expect.
“I did a Skype interview with UMFA two days before my thesis defense,” says Threadgill. “I really didn't have time for it, but I wanted the job so I made it work!” Her efforts paid off and she was offered the position just three short weeks after graduation.
Housed on the University of Utah campus, the UMFA enjoys a unique status as both a university and a state museum. The museum is Utah's primary cultural resource for global visual arts and is Utah's only global visual arts institution and collects, exhibits, interprets and preserves a comprehensive collection of more than 5,000 years of art. In her capacity as collection manager, Threadgill will be responsible for more than 19,000 art objects from around the world.
“I applied to a lot of jobs that weren't at art museums because hey, you have to start somewhere,” says Threadgill, “but my goal was to eventually work for an art museum, as that is where my passion is.” With an office in the collections storage area, she now finds herself surround by art every day.
“One of the biggest things I learned was to not get intimidated by a job posting list of requirements,” says Threadgill. “So many times I would consider not applying because a job asked for some requirement or experience that I didn't think I had. I learned to apply to any job that I was at least halfway interested in and three-fourths of the way qualified for, because the worst that could happen was that I wouldn't get it.”
When asked what her advice to upcoming and recent graduates looking for work would be, Threadgill says it is important not to be intimidated by the idea of breaking out into the real world.
“Believe in yourself, and have faith in your knowledge and abilities.”