The economy has seen better times; thus, the historic preservation job market has seen better times. Many 2008 graduates, whether in a bachelor’s or master’s program, have had a difficult time finding work in the field. It can become disheartening and make other fields seem more appealing. How in the world is anyone supposed to find a job when budgets are being cut everywhere?
I’m not an expert and I’m not in the market for a new job, so take my suggestions however you like. I was lucky enough to have an internship following graduation and a full time job before the internship ended. My philosophy for finding my first preservation job was quite simple: “I will go anywhere and do anything that is preservation related.”
And that is the advice that I will continue to offer: do not limit yourself geographically or in just one sector. And if you don’t know exactly what you want to do, then an internship is a great, short term way to experiment.
Take an internship with the National Park Service or the National Council for Preservation Education or just a local organization. Sign up for the Student Conservation Association, where you can find preservation related jobs. Stay in the field. Do not be afraid to start at the bottom. An internship on the other side of the country for a few months may give you great experience. You can do anything for a short period of time. Do not be afraid of applying for a job that requests a M.A. if you have a B.A. – but keep in mind that if it requires 10 years of experience, you might be under qualified. Consider something with ICOMOS or ICCROM. There are endless opportunities when you think tangentially.
Most of all, keep applying, keep searching, and keep thinking of unconventional options. Try not to obsess. You will find a job and although it might not be your dream job, you have to start somewhere. And if you love historic preservation, your efforts will be worth it in the end. For now, hang in there and stay in the field in whatever way you can. Showing continued enthusiasm will give you an edge over other applicants.
Some of the best job boards (in my opinion) are found here:
PreserveNet (see also NCPE internships)
Mary Washington Historic Preservation
Student Conservation Association
There are many other resources for jobs. Generally, all of the academic preservation programs have job boards. And of course, Google provides additional search options. I hope this helps. And I hope I remember this the next time I’m searching for a job.