By Justine Kaempfer
While attending graduate school at Penn State I began working at the Penn State All-Sports Museum. I knew I was interested in museum work, particularly in sports heritage, and figured my studies in sport history paired with some practical experience would be a good start. At that time I was already a member of a number of academic organizations related to sport, but needed to gain insight into the professional world, and ISHA proved to be the perfect fit.
I attended my first ISHA conference in Nashville (2014). Everyone was incredibly welcoming and it proved to be very enlightening. While the workshops, speakers, and presentations were incredibly informative, the most valuable aspect of the conference was the opportunity to meet and network with museum professionals. Not only were we able to connect on a personal level, but they were a great resource for questions I had about the industry.
The conference also offers the opportunity to meet with other students and emerging professionals, and talk with them about their interests and journey, as well as attend a session hosted by the Board of Directors addressing the needs and concerns of emerging professionals. Furthermore, if you are looking for a way to add to your academic and professional resume, ISHA affords the ability for you to submit an abstract that could be presented at the annual conference.
The conference, however, is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of opportunities to network outside of the conference using the mentoring program and the website’s membership access, which provides the contact information for all of ISHA’s members. You can find out about professional development, as well as pressing issues and new ideas in sports heritage, such as incorporating virtual reality and STEM education, through participation in quarterly Hot Topic calls. You can add to your professional and academic resume even further by submitting white papers, abstracts, or even your thesis to be posted on the ISHA website. And finally, the ISHA website and listserv are a hub for internship and job postings and connections. In fact, the posting for my curatorial internship with the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame was sent through ISHA’s listserv, which ultimately led me to my current position with the organization.