Alum Interview with Kimberly Staub

staub-photoKimberly Staub is a 2012 graduate of the MA in History Program at Virginia Tech. She is currently working at the Betsy Ross House as a Collections and Exhibitions Manager.

Q: After graduating from Virginia Tech’s M.A. program, what have you done professionally?

A: Professionally, I began my work in museums as a site supervisor at the Betsy Ross House.  I got to know the museum staff and leadership, and when a position opened up as the Collections & Exhibitions Manager, I was able to apply and was hired for the job. I have been Collections & Exhibitions Manager for three and a half years.

In my free time, I have been taking a few courses on museum management and non-profit leadership. I also serve as the vice president of Philadelphia’s Historic Neighborhood Consortium, a group that promotes collaboration among various museums and historic sites in Old City Philadelphia, and volunteer on the committee of the Young Friends of Independence National Historical Park.

Q: How did your experience at Virginia Tech impact your career after graduate school?

A: At Virginia Tech, one of the best experiences was my assistantship in Special Collections. The experience I gained there researching and processing collections, handling artifacts, and basic conservation skills, combined with the strong emphasis on research and writing from the History Department, were essential in my being hired at the Betsy Ross House.

Q: What advice would you give current or future students wanting to pursue a path similar to yours?

The job application process can be daunting, and believe me when I say you will send out a ton of resumes. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of small internships or low-level jobs because you never know where they may lead. Working as a site supervisor was not the job I had hoped for out of graduate school, but it did open the door for me to the career I wanted.

Q: What has been a major challenge you have encountered in your career? How have you dealt with it?

A: One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far is creating a good work-life balance. Most of us who work in history and museums are incredibly passionate about what we do (and you have to be—you don’t work in museums for the money), which makes it easy for you to take your work home with you, or volunteer to work extra shifts, or respond to work emails at every waking moment.

We all love what we do, but that makes it easy to burn out. So while I still participate in a lot of history-related activities in my free time, I try to remind myself to take time away from the job, find friends outside the field, and not let my passion for my job take over my life.

Q: What are your plans from here?

A: In my current position, there are a few big re-interpretation projects on the horizon that I am excited to be part of, including a brand new orientation gallery.

Broadly speaking, I hope to continue working on management and development skills that will prepare me for a more senior management position. I am still fairly early in my career (less than 5 years in the field), but I love what I do and know that I want to stay in the field.

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