Staying Relevant in the Workforce: SHA and You
I am a lucky guy. Last summer, I received an e-mail from the office of the historian of the National Park Service. Dr. Robert Sutton was offering to pay the way to SHA for several employees. Until that moment, I had never heard of the SHA and had not really been involved with AASLH on a regular basis. After scrolling through the website, looking at the syllabus, it piqued my interest and I applied. Much to my surprise, I was accepted into the program. In the National Park Service, it is almost a given that if you want to move up in the organization, more often than not, you have to move on. I had been looking for training that would strengthen my management skills and expose me to a part of my field that I knew something about but was craving to learn more. Over the course of the three weeks in Indianapolis I absorbed the information as it came at us. While I didn’t agree with everything that was shared with us and got frustrated when we didn’t have time for more dialogue, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the class. As we move deeper into the 21st Century, the National Park Service is exploring ways to leverage its mission with the work of partner organizations. SHA provided insight into the challenges that many of our partner organizations face and, in a roundabout way, how we can get more work done if we build a relationship with the private sector. A valuable lesson indeed.
It’s now been about six months since returning from Indianapolis. While I can’t say that I have a new job because of SHA (I am trying) or a new title, I do have something that I think I value even more – perspective. I have worked for the National Park Service for the last eighteen years. We are so taken by the day-to-day issues, we rarely have a chance to step back and take a long look at the field. SHA provided that. Moreover, what made the class even more fulfilling were the people who I interacted with every day. Regardless of the uniform we wear or the mission that we work too, everyone in the room works toward the same goal – making their institutions relevant to the community. It allowed me to gain some insight into the professional values I hold, what I need to contribute to make my profession more relevant to the people around me, and how to lead change to the future. It took about a month to process all of the information I heard, but in the end, I think it’s safe to say, the SHA is one of those pivotal experiences that will make a positive and lasting difference in my professional life.
Marc Blackburn (SHA ’13), National Park Service
Applications for SHA are due Monday, May 19. For more information, click here.