Soon after Philly EMP began in 2011, we came up with the Hire Learning program. This program, based mostly on resources we felt were lacking in the museum field, was designed to provide museum professionals with affordable and accessible professional development and career advice. For the first several years, Hire Learning consisted of one-off panel discussions and workshops. Beginning in 2016, we expanded the program to include training and wellness initiatives, and in 2017 we hosted our first symposium.
On this page, we will share the Hire Learning planning process so that it can be applied outside of the Philadelphia region. We encourage other EMP groups to use this model to support your EMP community. Prior to 2016, our programs had zero funding and thus were able to be implemented with very little financial impact. In other words, don’t let a lack of funding stop you from attempting to host similar events.
Determining Audience Needs
Before jumping into any sort of programming, it is important to figure out what your EMP community is looking for and what you can realistically provide. Philly EMP hosted an event in January of 2013 to obtain this information. We found an organization willing to donate space after hours, secured a beer donation from a local brewery, bought a few light snacks, and “borrowed” a giant notepad from one of our museums. We created a Facebook event and sent out an eblast to promote it. From there, we sat down with about 20 EMPs from the region and asked them what we could do to help them in their job search.
We offered three prompts:
- An organization that helps me would…
- What I really want to do is…
- I want to work in this field because…
We introduced these prompts to the room and opened the floor to discussion. What we gathered from the feedback is that EMPs wanted access to networking opportunities, accessible and affordable professional development, and fun events. With that information in hand, we began hosting events every other month. We would alternate between a professional event and a happy hour, for example we followed the January networking/feedback event with a March happy hour before returning to a Hire Learning program with a Resume and Cover Letter Workshop in May.
Hosting Your First Program
Once you have determined the needs of your local EMPs, you can get started on working to meet those needs. Here are a few of the programs we have offered under the Hire Learning banner:
- Resume & Cover Letter Workshop/Panel Discussion
- Portfolio Panel Discussion
- Practice Interviews
- Speed Networking
- Career Advice Symposium (What’s Next)
For more details about these events, including the types of professionals chosen as panelists, check out our Hire Learning archive.
Once you have decided on what type of program you would like to do, the first step is selecting a date and location. We tend to do events on Thursday evenings or on weekends, though we are constantly adjusting program times to work with the variety of schedules in the museum world, particularly amongst EMPs. For locations, we ask around in our local museum community to see if anyone is willing to donate space. Luckily, in Philadelphia, we have so many institutions that we have rarely had to ask a location to host us more than once.
With a location in place, your next step is to build your panel. Reach out to your network and see who could lend some expertise. Talk to hiring managers in your institution to see if they would be interested in helping. We are constantly surprised by the amount of people in our field who are willing to donate their time and expertise to our programs. When you are reaching out for experts to speak at your event, try to bring diverse perspectives to the table. For example, a panel of three white women who work in collections at an art museum is not going to be as helpful to as many people as a panel of five people of diverse backgrounds and genders who work in a variety of positions at different museums. We always at least try to have art, history, and science museums represented, as well as programs/visitor experience, collections, and development.
With all of the major details set, work with your committee to flesh out the details of the event. How will you set up the room? Who will moderate? What questions will be asked? Experiment with different options, you will find that different setups compliment some programs better than others.
After some attendance struggles, we have found that it is best to have the date and theme of your next event ready to be announced at the current program. We have also found it helpful to ask attendees at each program what they would like to see at the next one. In this way, the alternating between happy hours and career programs works in our benefit. At a resume workshop we can collect feedback to help develop an event four months out while also promoting a happy hour two months out.
The Hire Learning program has been a constantly changing and growing program that has evolved to meet the needs of our changing EMP community. We hope, by providing this basic guide you are able to develop a similar program in your region. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, or would like some more details, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.