by CareerActually contributor, Kyanne Smith
As part of Meg’s career change research, she contacts her friend Adrian who works in a small, local art Gallery and she conducts an information interview. She hopes to learn more about his work and how he got started. Here’s her career journal entry that evening…
Met with Adrian today and had a coffee. He spent an hour with me, telling me all about his job as Exhibits Coordinator at the Gallery. I didn’t realise how much variety he had in his job – he does all sorts – fund raising and promotion, managing volunteers, and helping set up some of the art exhibitions. His job is really interesting!
Information Interview: My questions and Adrian’s responses
Question 1: How did you get started in this work?
- Started as a volunteer – helping new artists to get their work shown in public. He hadn’t planned on working at the Gallery – didn’t think there’d be much work.
- He did a lot of volunteering, and one of the staff approached him about a short term role, which turned into a permanent job. He’s been there 7 years. I hadn’t thought my volunteering could lead to a job
Question 2: What skills do you need to do this job well?
- Adrian doesn’t have an arts degree – has a degree in biology! I asked if he had done any formal study in art? He said no – only short courses, a lot of reading, visits to other galleries and talking to artists. This is good news – perhaps I don’t need another degree after all!
- He’s had to learn a lot on the job – uses a variety of skills to get the exhibitions running and promoted. It’s a small gallery so he has to take on a lot of different work.
- You have to be willing to do more than your job description and working irregular hours.
- He also manages the gallery volunteers group – which involves a lot of scheduling, mentoring and coaching people. Made me realise I’ve got lots of useful skills for the art world!
Question3: What do you like most, and least, about your job?
- He likes most: Getting art work exhibited to appreciative audiences. He says it’s really rewarding when the artists see their work on show for the first time. Enjoys the variety.
- Doesn’t like: waiting for the executive committee to make decisions. Takes ages – very different opinions lots of debate about what should be funded or not– lots of politics. (Sounds like my workplace!)
Question 4: What would you recommend to others who wanted to do this?
- The best advice he can give is ‘get involved as much as possible’, keep volunteering, go to the exhibits, talk to the artists, talk to gallery staff, visit galleries interstate.
Source: louveciennes on Flickr
Now that he knows I’m looking for a change, Adrian said he’d keep me in mind and mention me to some of his colleagues. He said I have some good skills, and he knows I’m a volunteer already.
I’m not sure all this will lead to anything, but I feel more optimistic. As it turns out, I’ve got a lot more ‘transferable skills’ than I thought – staff supervision, event coordination and the program management and budgeting work I do. Plus my volunteering means I have an appreciation of how galleries work and I’ve worked with artists. At the end of the meeting Adrian said “Meg, you could easily do my job!”.
Reminder: write thank you note for Adrian and take my weaving projects to show him. They have a textile event coming up in 3 months – he wants to see my work – it might be suitable to exhibit! Yah!