Name: Jennifer Cronk
Current Job Title: Curator of Collections
Name of Organization: Aurora History Museum
Bachelor's Degree: BS in Archaeological Studies, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Graduate Degree: MA in Anthropology-Museum Studies, University of Denver
What does your current position entail?
As the Curator of Collections for the Aurora History Museum, I am responsible for the museum's artifact and archives collections. This includes all aspects of acquisitions, loans, database management, and research requests. I also supervise the volunteer program and assist in the research and development of exhibits. Working at a small museum means that I am responsible for a wide range of duties that can frequently change.
How did you get your current position?
I applied for a summer internship at the museum in May 2008, and they hired me to assist with both education and collections duties. This became a full-time position in October of the same year. When the Curator of Collections left in 2010, I had the opportunity to apply for the open position.
In relation to graduation, when did you start the job search and when did you secure your position?
I applied for the internship before I completed spring quarter at DU, as I hoped to work full-time at a museum over the summer. The internship ended in August, so I continued to apply for museum positions throughout the summer and fall. Although I was unsuccessful with those applications, grant funding at the Aurora History Museum allowed them to later hire me for a full-time position as the Curatorial Assistant. I completed my thesis while I was working at the museum in order to officially graduate in 2010.
In regard to the job search process, did anything surprise you?
I didn't realize how much competition there would be for all of the museum jobs and internships. I didn't receive an interview for a number of positions that I was qualified for, which was extremely discouraging. I am now responsible for hiring at the museum, and it is amazing how many experienced people apply for every position.
What recommendations do you have for current students?
I think it is extremely important to volunteer in order to gain as much practical experience as possible. This will also introduce you to professionals and allow you to begin networking. It's also important to attend conferences in order to get your name out there, because the people you meet will be the ones doing the hiring when you're looking for a job.
Which aspects of your background have been most helpful in your current position?
The practical experience I gained from volunteering, internships, and as a student at DU are definitely the most beneficial things to me. This helped me to learn the proper way to do things, as well as to learn the appropriate terminology for my field.
If you were in your graduate program again, what would you do differently, if anything?
I would have devoted more time to volunteering at local museums in order to gain more practical experience and meet more museum professionals.
Any additional comments for current students?
Although it is easier said than done, don't get discouraged if you are having difficulty finding a job. Keep sending in those applications, but make sure to do your research and tailor your resume and cover letter to each organization. It's easy to tell when applicants submit a form letter. There are many qualified people out there looking for jobs, so make sure your application stands out.