Sarah Jencks, Director of Education and Interpretation: Museum Job Spotlight
My name is… Sarah Jencks
The name of my museum is… Ford’s Theatre Society
My job title is… Director of Education and Interpretation
What’s your day to day like? What are your main responsibilities?
I work with three Associate Directors, our museum exhibits, and our arts and history education programs. I also work with our visitor services team and our National Park Service partners to make sure the visitor experience is consistent and compelling. In addition to this, I partner with our Directors of Development and of Communications and Digital Strategy to make sure that our messaging for fundraising and for internal and external communications reflect our program goals and impact.
What is your absolute favorite part of your job? ?
I love working with staff, historians, visitors, and teachers to make the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination resonate more strongly with events today. In light of Lincoln’s last speech, which suggested that some black men should have the vote, it was an act of racially motivated political violence that signaled how white people would respond to civil rights advances for years and years to come.
I also love working with teachers around the country to rethink how we use historic sites to inspire young people’s interest in history and civic engagement.
What advice would you give someone that wants to work in your profession?
Get engaged in the professional associations (for me, those are the American Alliance of Museums and the American Association for State and Local History, and also the National Council for Public History) – join at a student rate if you can afford to, and read the magazines. If you can’t join, subscribe to the blogs and haunt their websites. Definitely join Twitter and follow hashtags and people in the field (like #MuseTech for museum technology or #MuseumEdChat). Join the regional associations, and find out about local roundtables or other professional meet-ups. Apply for conference scholarships. The more you can get a sense for what’s happening in the field, the more you’ll have things to talk about in interviews and good questions to ask. You’ll also likely meet potential employers, and you’ll certainly learn about jobs more quickly.
What is the best part about working in the museum industry? ??
The people are amazing. I love my colleagues around the country, and I’ve never worked in a more collegial field.
What part of your job is the most surprising?
The fact that I’ve been in the same place for 11 years, and I still love it!
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