Connected \\ November 1, 2017
‘We are no longer alone’
PEM’s innovative program invites rising Native leaders in the cultural sector from across the United States and Canada to spend the summer working full-time to acquire leadership skills and gain practical work experience on high-level projects. Fellows are often in graduate programs or are mid-career professionals.
When this opportunity crossed my path, I had some work experience and a bachelor’s degree, but was unsure of the role I wanted in the museum field. I applied to the program in 2011 with the hope of learning from an institution that was big enough for me to explore my potential. My expectations were simple: gain new skills while executing projects that would benefit the department in which I would be placed.
Integrated Media Fellow Kaylene Big Knife reviews media installations within It’s Alive! with her supervisor Jim Olson, Director of Integrated Media. © 2017 Peabody Essex Museum. Photography by Bob Packert
Surprisingly, my learning process began during the interview. I was asked things I had never asked myself: What was I good at? What wasn’t I good at? Where did I want to be in five and 10 years? How was I going to change the field? I thought: “If they asked me these kinds of questions in a 45-minute phone interview, what would I get out of 10 weeks in a creative and supportive environment?”
Working that summer in the Development Department, I created forever friendships and mentorships with the other Fellows and staff. At the end, my supervisors met to review my work and pointed out strengths and weaknesses, reiterating many of the interview questions that started my journey. For me, this is one of the great benefits of the program — that it cultivates habits of mind and challenges self-reflection.