Today is our fourth professional profile in the Museum Moonlighters series, bringing us a look into the career of Andrea Gallagher from Orlando, Florida. Until recently, Andrea was managing four responsibilities, including school, a freelance writing job, a museum job, and a non-museum job. An impressive display of what people are willing to do in today’s job climate to make it work!
1. Where are you currently working?
I work as the Special Projects Coordinator at the Tampa Bay History Center located in downtown Tampa, Florida. I started at the museum as an intern while attending graduate school at the University of South Florida. Eventually, I got a part-time job at the Visitor Services desk, where I answered general inquiries and sold tickets. This position gave me valuable experience on the floor, and I was later promoted to be an assistant to the President & CEO of the museum and Board Liaison, which led to my current position. Up until just recently, I was taking four graduate classes, and working as a freelance writer, server at a steakhouse, and at the museum. It has been busy, but worth it because I love the History Center and feel strongly about its mission and that I can make a difference.
2. What does your average week look like?
As I mentioned, I recently graduated from the University of South Florida and accepted a full-time job at the History Center as their Special Projects Coordinator. Unfortunately because of my student loan debt and the high cost of living in the Tampa Bay area, I found it necessary to keep my serving job. Now, my week consists of working at the museum from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday with an occasional evening or weekend program, which falls under the category of “special projects.” Around my commitments at the museum, I also work a couple 6 p.m. till midnight shifts at a nearby campus steakhouse.
3. How do you make it work, and is there ever any conflict in balancing multiple positions/responsibilities?
I make it work because I love what I do. I am gaining invaluable experience at the History Center and am grateful for this opportunity. In a nutshell, I primarily assist the President & CEO and work closely with our Board. But in addition, I help the Director of Marketing with promotion, writing, and editing; plan programming and assist the education department; and have gained experience in membership and donor relations by working with our Director of Advancement. On nights and weekends, I serve dinners to tourists visiting Busch Gardens. I clean, bus tables, and get covered in food. I do not get much sleep, but for now, my jobs do not cause a “conflict” because I know that one day I will look back and wonder how I did it all, and it will feel great.
4. What is your ideal job? What are your future plans and goals?
In my current position, I work with an array of departments including Executive, Marketing, Development, Education, and Visitor Services, and I honestly cannot pinpoint which is my favorite. Thus, my ideal job is to be a Museum Director. I see our Museum President work tirelessly to ensure the success of the History Center and that is exactly what I hope to do one day.
5. What advice do you have for fellow EMPs just starting off in the museum field?
For fellow EMPs just starting out:
- You will work hard, maybe harder than you ever have in your life. The money may not be great starting out, but you cannot put a price on experience.
- Never feel like you are “too good” for even small wins or honors.
- Find a mentor, someone who really believes in you and pushes you to be the bestyou can be and who tells you when there are opportunities.
You will get discouraged and go through times when you wonder if it is all worth it. It is! When you see the look on an underprivileged school group’s face as they begin to understand where Florida’s First People come from, or when an elderly woman thanks you for teaching her something new that engages her mind OR when you know you are preserving something so that your grandchildren’s children can learn from it, you will know without a doubt, that your hard work is worth it.