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I’m currently a product manager for the plastic packaging division of Jabil, Inc., one of the largest electronics manufacturing services companies in the world. A lot happened between graduating and now, so bear with me. I tell this to a lot of students, recent grads and colleagues who find themselves second-guessing, and even hating what they’re doing and feel like they’re pigeon-holed.

In the first part of this series of posts, we asked some of FSU History’s graduate students what it was like to participate in a remote conference. In this second piece, we turn to Ben Goff, who organized the History Graduate Student Association’s spring 2020 conference, to find out what it was like to organize such an online event. Ben, who was vice president of HGSA, had been immersed in organizing the conference since September 2019. It was set to take place on April 3, 2020 on FSU’s main campus in Tallahassee.

Three weeks before the event was scheduled to happen, COVID 19 forced FSU to transition to remote instruction to protect the health of its students, faculty, and staff. Dena Sutphin [DS] asked Ben [BG] how he handled the transition.

DS: What kind of challenges did you face in the process?

With 'remote' conferences being the new norm, we felt it was important for students to share their experiences with presenting virtually. We asked several FSU History’s graduate students to talk about the new ‘conference-from-home’ format. Some students had participated in the FSU History Graduate Student Association-run conference in early April, others in an international conference in New Zealand in July. For almost all, these were their first virtual conferences. As could be expected, the new format had both pros and cons.

It is late summer, which for students and faculty means gearing up for another year at school (whatever that might mean in the current COVID crisis). It also means that another cycle on the academic job market is about to begin. While this year will undoubtedly be particularly perilous and unlike any other in recent memory, I would like to offer a few reflections on my experience as an early-career faculty member on the job market this past year. My experience is admittedly anecdotal, and my end-result potentially atypical, but hopefully I can provide some insights into an often-neglected component of academic life.

After graduating in 2015, I spent a year on the job market before landing a job at Northwest University in rainy Kirkland, WA, right outside of Seattle. Northwest is a small, Christian liberal arts college, and I counted myself incredibly fortunate to land my first job at such an ideal location. But was this a first job, or was it a forever job?

I am the collections and projects coordinator at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. We just staged the exhibit Rightfully Hers, which featured the National Archives pop-up exhibit panels on American woman suffrage alongside contemporary artifacts on loan from Mr. Ronald L. Book and Senator Lauren L. Book. The overall exhibit is an extension of last year’s exhibit, One Half of the People: Advancing Equality for Women, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Rightfully Hers marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment by the states. The Museum felt two exhibits would allow us to cover the full breadth of the movement. Michelle Sunset, another FSU graduate, did most of the curation and design work for Rightfully Hers.

In Fall 2018, I graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Women’s Studies. Doing a double major allowed me to focus on women’s history specifically and approach history from an intersectional perspective. This has greatly influenced the way I conduct research and work in the museum field.

Tallahassee has been my home for my entire life. Growing up, my parents took me to museums and historical sites whenever possible. These proved to be formative experiences as I decided I wanted to work in museums before I was even fifteen years old. I have volunteered or worked at the majority of museums in town, and started an internship at The Grove Museum in Spring 2018, only one year after it opened.

One of the most pivotal members in any department is the academic advisor and FSU’s History Department is no different. Anne Kozar advises undergraduate and graduate students in history; however, she did not always plan on ending up in advising. She actually studied art during undergrad and worked with commercial art and interior decorators. As a dance minor, Mrs. Kozar found herself taking many jobs related to the fine arts such as teaching exercise at a senior center, watercolors at the YWCA, and dance lessons for elementary children. During her journey, she kept returning to university. Though both her parents were professors, Mrs. Kozar did not want to be an academic and discovered her interest in advising while working on her master’s degree in higher education administration.

When asked about her favorite part of being an academic advisor, Mrs. Kozar couldn’t say the word “students” fast enough. “The most rewarding part is watching human development; to watch a freshman come into FSU and be a little nervous…and watching that person grow into a very confident young adult. It’s an amazing thing to watch.”

In this new age where we are all facing quarantine and social distancing, Zoom meetings have become one of the most accessible ways of communicating with others. Earlier in the summer, Dr. Sam Holley-Kline sat down in a Zoom interview with Alice Fabela. Dr. Holley-Kline received both his MA and PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University. He is currently a Dean’s Post-doctoral Scholar in the Department of History at Florida State University.

I graduated with an MA in Public History this spring, and less than a month later found a job with direct ties to the internship I did with the Cultural Resources Office at the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) the summer before. I am now a Cultural Resources Associate with Green 3, LLC, which is a cultural resources firm involved in environmental planning and design.  Our primary focus is on placemaking, community building, and the protection and preservation of natural resources and cultural heritage. We carry out our mission with a team of ecologists, environmental scientists, archaeologists, and historians investigating and researching landscapes and sites in advance of transportation projects being planned in the state of Indiana. While the mandate to protect and preserve natural resources and cultural heritage might seem straightforward, our placemaking and community building mission deserves further explanation.

Congratulations to Emma Davis (FSU Class of 2022) who just got offered an internship with the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) for the academic year 2020/21. Emma applied for 3 different projects and received an offer for her top choice working with the National Cemetery Association. The project she will be working on is called “Digital Storyteller: National Cemetery People and Places.” It is meant to tell the stories, especially through digital projects, of veterans from all US wars buried in military cemeteries.