I get asked this question a lot. Perhaps you are even wondering what my plans are come May 2014. I’ll happily let you know as much as I know: I don’t know.
I think of myself as having a combination of 4 options.
- Go back to the States
- Go somewhere else overseas
- Stay in museums/culture
- Work in a different field related but still related to my degrees
So I could: go back to the States and work in a museum/cultural org or go back to the States and work in a different field. Or stay abroad (but not in Laos) and work in a museum, or stay abroad and work in a different field. If I did stay abroad, there’s really only 2 cities I could see myself in—Hong Kong or Seoul (after almost 2 years of no church I’m prioritizing religious freedom). If I went back to the States, San Francisco, New York, and DC top my list of places to look for work. The only way I’d stay in Laos is if someone paid me $150,000 a year to do it and I received a housing allowance. I could pay off my loans within the year with money leftover so I could live anywhere and do anything after that.
Since I’ve been moving around almost constantly since 2005 (1 year in Shanghai, 1 year in Yinchuan, 1 year in Qingdao, 2 years in Cambridge, 2 years in Seattle, 2 years in LP), I’m really looking now for a place to put down roots and spend the next 8 or 9 years. In or very near to this city I find sizable Asian communities; a surplus of intelligent, single, Christian men; black hair stylists; a ballet, theatre, and symphony; the ocean and mountains; an efficient public transportation system I could use for my daily commute; a large international airport that makes travel to Asia or around the States more convenient; a vibrant swing dance community; Zipcar; and last but not least, black people.
My mentor has said that she thinks I may have to move somewhere as a transition place to get some experience before moving to the location and job I really want. Enter the other option: working in a different field. I don’t want to plan on moving again in another two years. Scenario A—I take a job in City A and after two or three great years there, I get a huge promotion that requires I move to City B. That’s cool. Scenario B—I move to City A and start dating a guy from faraway City B, two years later we get married and I move to City B. That, I’m OK with, too. Scenario C—I accept an entry level museum position in landlocked Small Town A where I have to buy a car, no one swing dances, and I am surrounded by conservative white people (no offense conservative white people, but I need more diversity) who hunt recreationally and have no idea what phở is and keep my fingers crossed that in two years something will open up in City A, B, or C so I can move again. Not OK. Thats an extreme case I suppose, but if that were my only option to stay in museums, I would leave. There’s a lot I could do that I would find interesting. With 5 years of international experience in Asia, several languages, and a Master’s degree, I would think I could avoid that fate. The way I envision it, I move to a city and then don’t move again till I’m 40 and have nearly paid off my school loans, have saved for retirement and can afford to live abroad again.
I am not speaking ill of people who want to work in museums that find themselves in that position or can’t find work at all. The field is oversaturated with qualified people and often the only reason one person gets hired over another is their connections. I’d like to work in a museum, but I don’t have to work in a museum. My interest in increasing cross-cultural understanding and international affairs can be carried out through a variety of organizations. Its not that I think of myself as being exception as much as it is being versatile.
My job search officially started at the beginning of December so I’m cleaning up my resume; reaching out to contacts; scouring Twitter, Craigslist, LinkedIn, USA jobs, and Idealist; and praying that the right position opens up in the right place at the right time.