Name: Abbey Chambers
Field of Study: Art History
Year of Graduation: 2004
Current Position: Academic Advisor and Recruiter, Art History Associate Faculty, Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis, Ind.
What was the most important thing you learned about your field while at Kendall?
I learned how interdisciplinary it is. As art historians, we are not restricted to examining art alone. We can–and must–explore religion, mythology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology and so much more, in order to inform our research in a more dynamic and meaningful way.
What was your most shocking realization about your field after graduation?
How hard I was going to have to work in order to get to where I wanted to be professionally. I have always been a hard worker, but I guess after working so hard through school, I thought my honors, awards and education would take me where I wanted to go in a heartbeat. I didn't have the experience, though. Someone once told me that we all have to drudge through the trenches before making it to the clearing, and that has been absolutely true for me. Upon receiving my master's degree, I had to wait tables for nine months before finding my first job in the arts, which paid horribly, so I still had to have a second job. When I finally landed a better-paying job, it still was not at a level that I knew I could handle. I continued working hard, volunteering, networking and teaching as an adjunct, and now, after being out of grad school for five years, I feel like I am exactly where I want to be in my career right now. All the drudging was worth it after all.
Give us your best interview tip.
You are interviewing the employer as much as the employer is interviewing you. Ask tactful questions that can help you discern whether or not the workplace, the people there and the job you are expected to do are good fits for you.
List three ways you network in your field.
- I muster the courage to take the appropriate opportunity to introduce myself to people I would like to know.
- I make a point to say hello to people that I have met before. If it is someone who I am not sure will remember me, I reintroduce myself and remind the person of how we know each other.
- I make a point to remember people's names, where I met them and, if possible, a small detail about them, either personal or professional. People always seem to be impressed when you remember them. If I happen to forget someone's name and it is only the second time we have met, then I simply apologize for the memory lapse and ask them to remind me. Oftentimes, they confess that they forgot my name too! (I would be impressed if they remembered!)
What was the worst interview moment you've experienced?
I had the absolute worst interview when I was meeting with the dean of an art college in Indianapolis (not Herron). This position had the title of "director," and the responsibilities included overseeing some of the foundation courses at the school and working with the faculty who taught them. I knew that some people might have thought I seemed or looked too young to have a "director" position, but I knew I had the credentials and the skills to do the job well. I think the HR director must have agreed with me, because I had two wonderful interviews, one over the phone and one in person. Unfortunately, during my in-person interview, the HR director suggested that she see if the dean of the school was in her office so she could "pop in" and talk with me for a little bit. The dean came in, probably annoyed at being pulled away from her desk first thing in the morning, and I felt like she instantly made the decision that I was too young for the job. She asked me some extremely challenging questions, which I answered confidently. However, she had a rebuttal for every answer I gave. Nothing I could say seemed satisfactory to her. I remained polite, but made the decision that I did not want the job even if I was offered it. I was not offered the job, though, so I did not have to withstand the pain of having to decline it!
List three résumé "don'ts."
- DON'T create a form resume and send it out to every job for which you apply. When an employer sees information on your resume that is completely irrelevant to the job you are seeking, the employer will know you did not take the time to customize your resume, and he/she will see this as an example of careless work ethic and disregard your resume almost immediately.
- DON'T clutter up your resume with unnecessary design or decoration. While a resume can have a clean, unique design or feature that makes it stand out, an employer will not feel like spending time reviewing a resume if it is too overwhelming to look at.
- DON'T assume your potential employer will know what you are talking about on your resume. Always be as clear and concise as possible, staying away from jargon, acronyms and other details that may have been specific to the experience that you had.
List three résumé "do's."
- DO carefully modify your resume for each position, putting the most relevant information at the top of your resume. Your education should usually come first and then your professional experience.
- DO proofread your resume again, and again, and again and again. You need to make sure that your spelling and punctuation are correct and that your fonts and formatting are consistent throughout. This will prove that you are detailed and organized.
- DO remember that your resume is a reflection of you both personally and professionally. Let your individuality and professionalism shine and be true to who you are–don't try to pretend you are someone or something you are not, because your potential employer will likely be able to figure out this deception once they interview you. If a potential employer does not like what you are offering, then the position was likely not a good fit for either of you.
Name the most essential skill, tool or software program relative to your field.
My public speaking skills have been very important to my career. Whether I am in meetings or I am teaching my students in the classroom, I am practicing and honing my public speaking abilities, making sure I am speaking in a way that concisely communicates my message to my listeners. (Also, getting to know Microsoft PowerPoint intimately has been very helpful!)
How did you make the first connection that led to a job in your field?
My internship in the Education Department at the Indianapolis Museum of Art helped me get my first job in my field. It gave me some valuable experience and a killer recommendation from my internship supervisor, and it helped me realize that I wanted to be an educator. I stayed in touch with my colleagues from the museum, and one of them eventually recommended me for my first job at Herron School of Art and Design.
One last piece of advice:
Always follow through with the things you say you will do, and do them to the best of your abilities. People will be really impressed with your dependability and quality of work, knowing that they can always count on you to get things done well. They will start giving you better and better opportunities, and you will be able to watch your career blossom!