College students are involved at Crystal Bridges on a number of different levels. 1) The Museum actively seeks to recruit students as volunteers. 2) Our College Ambassador program offers students from many different colleges and universities an opportunity to network across disciplines and help the Museum develop programming especially for college students (we’re taking applications for the fall 2014 semester now through Sept. 10). 3) There are also several internships available at Crystal Bridges throughout the year. Today’s post was prepared by one college student who has served Crystal Bridges in all of these capacities. Meet Skylar Edwards. –LD
Wanting to develop my museum studies, I have found volunteering at Crystal Bridges a great place to start, and one which has opened a doorway for my future career path. My first day as a volunteer at Crystal Bridges was completely nerve-wracking. Everyone seemed so much older and already knew the round-a-bouts of the Museum. But I finally caught a relieving moment when, assisting in Guest Services, I knew the answer to the first question I was asked: “Where is the bathroom?” In time I would know much more than just where the bathroom is and I would be able to support the Museum and develop skills I would need for my future career.
The wide variety of opportunities and flexible scheduling offered allows the volunteers to assist in an area they feel comfortable with. Just as there are too many marvelous artworks at Crystal Bridges to pick a single favorite, there are also a plethora of opportunities available for a college student to gain career experience. From Guest Services to the Library, I volunteer in as many different areas of the Museum as I can, which has increased my knowledge in Museum work, interactive communication, and educational programming.
I found myself checking the Museum’s website daily to stay up-to-date on the current events and programs. This is where I found information about the Crystal Bridges College Ambassador (CBCA) program! The leadership experience as a College Ambassador has given me the opportunity to be a part of a group whose mission is to enrich the community and promote Crystal Bridges to a broader audience. CBCA has given me a stronger understanding of marketing campaigns, public programing, and event production. The group’s proactive methods have succeeded in attracting a wider audience that continues to grow with each CBCA event.
With CBCA and volunteer experience, I could see my career foundation strengthening and my museum curiosity building, so again I started asking staff members in the Museum’s volunteer and college programs to see if any internships were available. Gaining contacts through these programs helped me to attain a summer internship in Public Programs. The staff has encouraged me to take control and be a leader on my projects. This gave me hands-on experience which you cannot receive through a college course. The internship positively pushed me to enter into a real “grown-up” setting. It has forced me to work on my weaknesses and perfect my strengths. As a college student this was an awakening.
Through all the many hats that I wear at the Museum, I constantly see the kindness and generosity of the family of staff members who have made a powerful influence in my life. General admission to the permanent collection is free and the smiling faces of the volunteers and staff members play a significant role in the experience of the visitors. As a college student, I encourage my student peers to become a volunteer, an intern, and an ambassador of the Museum, as it will truly benefit any field of study. These roles give you the guidance of the employees who are specialists in their fields. The experience helps you discover what area you are passionate about. To learn the nobility of serving is crucial to earning the right to be served.