Friday, 18 November 2016

ALUMNI CHECK-IN: JASON HARVEY

ALUMNI CHECK-IN

BY: KATE SEALLY

This week we are privileged to be able to speak to Jason Harvey, a graduate from the MMSt program. Comment down below if you have any more questions for Jason, and I'll be sure to pass them on!

When did you graduate? 

I finished the Master of Museum Studies program in 2012.

Where are you now? 
Billings Estate National Historic Site, Ottawa ON. Source

I am currently working as an Education and Interpretation Programs Officer with the City of Ottawa. I work with four of the City's museums, Pinhey’s Point Historic Site,Billings Estate National Historic Site, Nepean Museum, and Fairfields Heritage House. 

Does the MMSt program serve you well in your current job? (ie. do you feel like you are applying what you learned in your everyday work?) 

Yes, definitely! Day to day, I lead a multi-disciplinary team that develops and delivers cultural products to the public. The work is always changing – while responsible for an historic house museum, I can also find myself managing events at City Hall, contributing to corporate initiatives, interpretive planning, directing staff workflow, setting budgets, or running hiring competitions. It is a varied position, and it definitely keeps things interesting and fresh.

The MMSt program’s strong foundation in museological theory, coupled with hands-on, practical opportunities, serves me very well in my everyday work. Depending on the situation or task, I can draw upon a baseline of knowledge, as well as practical skills developed in the program. One project that I’m currently working on is the development of an evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of our programming initiatives. This tool, once it’s ready to launch, will hopefully help us make conscious and responsible decisions in regards to the programming we decide to offer at the historic sites. To develop this, I am relying heavily on my experience in the MMSt program, especially what I learned in the Museums and Their Publics course.

What did you enjoy most about the MMSt program? 

The excellent balance of academic with professional experiences. The internship was definitely the highlight of the program; I was fortunate enough to intern at the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture. I feel that my experiences working alongside the Museums and Heritage Advisors, coupled with the network and transferable skills I developed, have gone a long way to ensuring that I am gainfully employed! Other stand-out experiences include working with the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto as a part of the Museums and Indigenous Communities Course, as well as many, many hours spent in the Thomson Collection of European Works of Art at the AGO during Museums and Their Publics.

Is there anything you wish you had done while you were in the program or while you were in Toronto? 

When I was a student in the MMSt program I was lucky enough to be able to find paid museum work as an interpreter at Spadina Museum. However, I definitely regret not finding the time to volunteer at another museum or cultural institution. It’s so important to get involved and meet as many people as possible! Whether it’s through working or volunteering, you should try to find ways to improve your footing in the world. Obviously you need to maintain a healthy work/life balance, but you should really try and find the time to get involved.

Do you have any advice for current MMSt students?

Think strategically when selecting your internship. Where do you want to be in 10 to 15 years? What are the skills you will need to get there? Who might be able to mentor you along the way? While interning in a very niche position might be a fun and engaging experience, be sure to consider long-term career goals, and push your comfort level in order to develop new abilities.

As a supervisor who interviews recent graduates – start thinking about how you will posture yourself for that first post-MMSt job. While the MMSt program is excellent for developing the hard, professional skills demanded in the workplace, be sure to think about and exercise your soft and transferable skills. Learn how to communicate your work ethic, accountability, and self-management abilities to future employers, with concrete workplace examples and experiences to back them up.

Finally, if you are at all interested in working for the government, start brushing up on your French as soon as possible. Even a little French can go a long way to helping you stand out from the other candidates.
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Well that's it for this week, folks! Thank you so much to Jason for participating and for beta-testing my interview questions. I'll see you in the New Year, with a new and exciting Alumni Check-In post! 

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