Undecided Career Plans, Should I Still Apply To Schools? - Art History - The GradCafe Forums
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Undecided Career Plans, Should I Still Apply To Schools?


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I've known for many years that I want to pursue a career in the arts, probably in museum work. I have one year left as an undergrad and have put art history into every aspect of my life. I have a 3.85 gpa and have taken around a dozen art history courses in a broad range of topics but I know that I'm particularly interested in modern and contemporary. I've taken museum studies courses as well and know a lot about the field. I've had internships in an art gallery, a small museum, an important large museum, a private art collection foundation and other art related jobs. I've worked in education, registrar, curatorial and done every odd task asked of me in a museum setting. However, I still have no idea what I actually want to do beyond 'work with art'.

Nothing brings me more joy than being in my art history classes and while papers aren't my favorite thing to do, I think this is more a lazy college student thing than a dislike for research. I love learning and want to pursue at least a masters and probably a PHD, however I feel like without a definite career projectory it's stupid to put that much money into it. Also, as I've learned from job interviews at museums, it doesn't look good to not know what you want to do. I feel like I've been saying "I want to be a curator" for so long that I'm not even sure if that's true. I know a PHD will give me the most options so it feels like it's the best way to not limit myself to lower level jobs.

Will I be thought of as unprepared when applying if I don't have a definite life plan? I don't have a definite focus for my research either and feel like even with all of my experience, I may come off looking like a mess. I don't know if I am going to apply this year, I may take a year off to work on my languages and make some money, but I'm wondering what you guys think. Do a lot of people feel this way?

Writing all that down was like good therapy, thanks!

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I just registered on this site solely to say that I am feeling the same art-history-angst as both of you. I'm actually a year out of college--I've been working in an administrative department at a museum--and I thought the extra year would help me decide, but no...

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I'm starting a Phd in about a month, and I still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.....

I say, if it feels like the right path and it's something you love to do, just go with it. You never know what doors will open up along the road. If you close yourself off for good though you take away any chance of any interesting opportunity that might pop up.

So keep doing what you are doing, and maybe 10 years down the road when it's actually time to get a job, you'll have things a bit more figured out. I hope I will....

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  • 2 months later...

I've decided to take a year off, because of all of the angst I described in my original post, but am wondering what to do with myself next year. I'm continuing research on graduate schools but not dealing with applying this year will hopefully keep my grades up and allow me more time to think about my focus and career plans. Next year I'm going to work on taking my GRE and learning my languages (how much do you loathe German????), but I don't know if it's worth it to get another internship or art related job. I know that a year long internship or low level job will pay me basically nothing, which is what I'll be making in graduate school as well. Do you think it would be better to work outside the field in order to save up money for my expensive degree or to continue pursuing art related jobs to give myself an edge?

Any more advice on how to apply to schools without knowing what the hell you want to do would also be appreciated.


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