The Downward Spiral

This is a small addition to my post Unpaid, Unfed and Unhoused. It is not uncommon to find a museum job listing with extreme or unreasonable demands. No doubt this is often done to dissuade the meek from applying to begin with. I am continually scanning job boards and non-profit business sites for currently vacant positions and I recently came upon a museum in the New York City area that was looking to fill a development type position. Most of their demands were reasonable until I read that they were requiring three years of PAID development experience in order to be competitive for the position. This is not the first time I’ve seen a demand similar to this.

We all as museum professionals or interns know that PAID positions/internships are falling to a low number. Does the fact that a museum professional has completed several UNPAID positions absolutely negate their qualifications as an individual? Paid internships/entry-level positions are far and few between, and when they happen at all, they are typically compensated minimally.

But, here is the kicker! This particular museum ONLY offers UNPAID internships. Does that mean that their interns are sacrificing their time and personal resources only to receive unqualified experience? Their own interns do not complete their internships with experience that could even begin to get them a position at that museum. This seems to be a downward spiral. If more museums start placing all of their stock on PAID positions, but few museums will pay their entry-level staff, then a miniscule portion of upcoming museum professionals will even be qualified enough to secure a job. Some of the unpaid positions/hours I have spent have provided me with the best experience I have gained. Have others noticed this stipulation creeping into job postings? Do you feel your unpaid experience is of a lesser value than your paid experience?

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One response to “The Downward Spiral

  • Jenni Schwartz

    Personally I feel like that is only an attack on their own part. Obviously they are asking for people that have PAID experience because they are clearly not offering the proper training and education to their UNPAID interns. They know that they aren't training them properly being that they are unpaid so they assume that all others who are training unpaid interns are doing the same.Just my thoughts on the subject.

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