In 2013, I was hemorrhaging money. I had just finished my Master’s in Arts Administration and, despite a solid work history for a 24-year-old, I was working full time for no money while paying to live in Washington, DC. So, I did what any anal-retentive college grad would do—I started making lists.
I wanted to apply for at least 10 jobs per week—anywhere in the country, any type of organization, as long as it was marketing the arts—but finding those openings was a problem. Even great job banks, like the one at Americans for the Arts, only list so many new opportunities each week, and I knew I would only get one interview for every 10-20 applications. In the application game, quantity is key. Searching general job sites with my keywords wasn’t helping—try searching museum, theatre, or god forbid, arts, and see how many hospital jobs you get.
I started compiling every arts and non-profit job bank I could find, along with direct links to employment pages for specific organizations across the country. I kept adding, even after I had found a job. Three years and thousands of links later, I launched my website, CulturalJobs.org. Ironically, my push to finally make it public was an abrupt departure from a dream-job-turned-nightmare.
I structured the site around both mine and my friends’ experiences (some are tied to a geographic location, while others really want to work in specific areas, such as orchestras or history museums), so the lists are searchable by both location and organization type. Since moving to Australia, I've taken a more global approach, though I still add US links as well.
Launching Cultural Jobs also helped me when applying for new jobs—several interviewers commented positively on it, and it helped fill unemployment gaps and gave me an answer for “So what are you doing now?” More importantly, my work can now help others in my field find the right job for them.
What I Learned Along the Way
Side projects are often beneficial, if you have something to show for it.
Show passion for your industry, along with initiative and work ethic. But you can’t just be someone who’s “working on” something. Until I launched Cultural Jobs as a website, it was just a private Google spreadsheet (though a massive one).
Promote your job openings.
Many of the organizations I found don’t have a dedicated employment page, even for a rolling acceptance of letters of interest for unpaid internships. They are also probably not aware of everywhere they could be posting to reach the most candidates, along with other steps to take. Job hunts are fundamentally different from 20 years ago—has your recruitment process kept up?
There is always a gap to fill.
I took my frustration with the job hunt and turned my personal solution into a public resource for my sector. I can’t fix the struggle, but hopefully Cultural Jobs can help.
The work never ends, and that’s OK.
I will never finish adding and updating the links on Cultural Jobs, not to mention marketing it. As someone who likes neat endpoints, accepting this was a big deal for me.
Go to NAMPC!
Having gone in 2012 and 2015, I can honestly say one of the downsides to living halfway around the world is that I can’t be in Memphis with everyone this November. Both times, going to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference made me a better arts marketer, gave me information to bring up in interviews, and helped me stand out in applications, especially as a speaker in 2015. It was also great to talk with fellow arts professionals about what I was doing and wanted to accomplish with Cultural Jobs, and to get feedback and encouragement.