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Considering graduate school after being out of school for a few years


Rose_Selavy
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I've been reading this forum for several years now.  Apologies for being so quiet all this time!


I work at an auction house where I perform fine art research (modern and contemporary) in addition to writing and editing for my company (essays, online content, etc).  I have been working there for a couple years but a large part of me desires to go to graduate school.  Ultimately, I'd like to jump ship to work at a museum with a strong modern art collection, some day.

 

Prior to this position I had performed a few internships.  The most significant being a curatorial intern at a major museum where my research was included in a major exhibition.  

 

A few questions that I would appreciate feedback on:

 

How much sway does job experience in the field carry in regards to applying for graduate programs? I hold a nice position and would receive great letters of recommendation from my supervisors if and when the time came.   

 

When I graduated college and had no idea what to do, I started to prepare for the GRE on a daily basis in hopes of getting into a graduate program in art history.  My concerns for applying at the time pertained to making my GRE scores as flawless as possible.  Should I still have the same concerns regarding admittance into top-tier art history programs?  Or am I too paranoid?  Should I count on my experience working in the field to balance it out in regards to being an outstanding or desirable applicant? 

 

I am just very curious.  I feel that I have been out of the school loop for a while now and I am not sure what I should be working on to prepare myself for applying in the future.

 

Thanks

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Personally, I submitted recommendations from prior work supervisors (albeit from a museum). These letter writers could speak to my most recent work studying my field of interest (which I did not learn about in undergrad). Which is fantastic. Most critically, however, both of my letter writers held academic backgrounds: one holding a PhD, and the other one finishing PhD coursework.

So, each were aware of the graduate school process, and the skills necessary to succeed.

So you may want to ask yourself -- For my letters of recommendation, what are the backgrounds of those recommending me? Will they be able to submit a letter to the adcomm as equal weight to a traditional LOR writer? And if not, do they add something else to your application?

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Addition for above: I also submitted letters of recommendation from my professors in undergrad.

Oh, and we should trade places for jobs. ;-) With my interests in decorative arts, I'd love to work for an auction house! Right now, I'm studying a couple of modern artists for the museum I'm working next....

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Addition for above: I also submitted letters of recommendation from my professors in undergrad.

Oh, and we should trade places for jobs. ;-) With my interests in decorative arts, I'd love to work for an auction house! Right now, I'm studying a couple of modern artists for the museum I'm working next....

 

I completely understand what you are saying.  I keep in touch once or twice a year with my honors thesis supervisor from college when i was getting my bachelors degree.  However what I was focusing on in undergrad with that professor at the time is different from what i have been working in for the past few years (and not relevant anymore to what i am interested in going forward with).

 

If that does not matter, I could request a LOR from that professor.  I personally feel that at this point in my life my two supervisors at this position know me better than any of my professors from college as an undergrad.  My supervisors carry a lot of clout in the art world, but that is still markedly different from carrying academic clout in the art world.  One has co-curated exhibitions at major museums and has written and contributed to publications on design and art.  Still something for me to think about.

 

Thanks for the feedback so far, I really appreciate it :)

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Sure, anytime. :-) I totally get how a supervisor could describe your capacities better than a professor from years ago. That goes for me, too. Museum supervisors could talk about my knowledge of my academic field as strong and sustainable, whereas my undergrad professors from several years ago just have "my promise" in undergrad to go on, such as my alacrity for scholarly texts, tenacious persistence in researching, etc.

 

Also, you may want to check out GradCafe subforum for LORs. Questions like these may not be related specifically to your circumstances, but the replies can be useful food for thought when planning ahead,

 

Finally, keep in mind that for applications generally, you'll need several LORs. Secondly, one university that I applied to required three LORs, but you could submit up to five.  

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