Crucial Framework for Professionalization
– by Sarah Milligan
So, I can honestly say in retrospect, there is career pre-SHA and career post-SHA. Pre-SHA I looked at the job in front of me and thought about what I needed to do in order to get that job done. Post-SHA, I looked at the same job and thought about how the goals of that job could be leveraged to improve, not only my team, but my institution’s health, as well as assist in drawing organizational advocates through a strong and clear messaging plan. In other words, I finally got The Big Picture.
For me, going through SHA was like flipping on a light bulb illuminating the context for the intersection of my job with the larger history, library, museum and even the entertainment fields. The intense interaction with nationally diverse professionals put my personal and professional goals into a new perspective. I was curious in how my organization was making decisions and setting institutional goals and I wanted to participate. The more I participated, the more interested I became and the more doors that opened, both within the institution and without.
Four years later, I am still curious. I am still building on that SHA framework. Yes, I developed some amazing relationships with my classmates (go, 2011!), and yes, the encouragement and resources of many SHA alum are a continued source of assistance and encouragement, but the #1 skill developed during my SHA experience is the ability to understand organizational structure comprehensibly.
Head, Oklahoma Oral History Research Program
Oklahoma State University