My name is Sheri Friesner and I am the Historic Village Manager at Sauder Village in Archbold OH. I began the M.L.I.S. program at Kent State in the fall of 2012 but having a full-time job in metropolitan Toledo, it was not possible for me to move to Kent so I enrolled in the online program (at that time, there was a choice). My experience is quite different from the last From the Field guest blogger, Chrissy. While this wasn’t my first time taking online classes, it was my first time in the graduate setting and I was not quite sure what to expect. Thankfully, Dr. Latham, and others, made it an amazing learning experience.
Sheri Friesner, KSU '14, Historic Village Manager, Sauder Village - Archbold, OH
Even though I was an online student I went to the Kent State campus multiple times, both to meet with Dr. Latham and for group projects. The highlight of my time in this program was taking the Museum Origins class in Florence, Italy. Not only was it an eye opening experience in the international world of museums, but it helped me create bonds with classmates and instructors alike. It was one of those relationships that led me to my internship, and eventually my job at Sauder Village. Dr. Latham knew I lived in Toledo and suggested I contact an acquaintance of hers, the Curator of Collections at Sauder Village. During my summer internship, I had the opportunity to work in multiple areas at the Village, which really helped me narrow down my interests within the museum field, something I still had not done near the end of my degree. I graduated in December of 2014 and in February of 2015 was offered a job at Sauder Village as the Volunteer Coordinator, working with both the youth and adult volunteer groups. In January of this year, I was promoted to Historic Village Manager, after the Director of 41 years retired.
Grime Home in the fall, Sauder Village - Archbold, OH
My advice to current students in the Museum Studies program would be to look for as many volunteer opportunities as you are able to handle. Even if you work and go to school full time and can’t be a consistent volunteer at a museum, find museums that would love to have you even for a few hours each month. Learn as much as you can about a variety of museums, even if it’s not what you think you want for your career. If you can’t volunteer at museums, ask if you can shadow a museum professional for a day. The more you expose yourself to different styles of museums, the better informed you’ll be in really understanding what type of museum you want to work in. For example, I was so focused on finding a job at a military or Holocaust museum, that I hadn’t considered anything else, but have come to love the setting at a living history museum through my internship and now, job in one. Be sure to attend museum conferences, get to know others entering the museum field, but also seek out long-time professionals that are established in the field. Yes, conferences can be expensive, but many have a scholarship fund for new and emerging professionals—it is worth it.
Village Circle in the fall, Sauder Village - Archbold, OH
My advice to online students in this program: foster the relationships with your classmates, instructors and advisors. Don’t isolate yourself but reach out to make friendships with those in your classes. You will see many of the same names repeatedly in your online class discussions—get to know them. If possible, visit the campus as often as you can. Visit the MuseLab; aside from an internship, this will be the most realistic experience you will have before finding your job. Better yet, volunteer to work in the MuseLab. I regret not taking advantage of that opportunity.
To all museum studies students: take every opportunity this program offers you. Don’t give in to the temptation to do just enough, be the student that does more than enough.