I worked at EMP Museum part-time (Less than a year)
Interesting and diverse people from all walks of life.
Long shifts with nothing much happening.
I have been working at EMP Museum full-time (More than 5 years)
MUSIC! Every minute of every day, you are surrounded by music history -- from the earliest iterations of the electric guitar to Jimi's lyrics written on hotel stationery -- there is always something to be taught by the artifacts... and something to teach museum guests.
The job is fairly easy, but you cannot be afraid to approach guests and get them excited about music, whether it's jamming with them in Sound Lab, teaching them a bit about NW music history, or just plain going crazy in a mock band at OnStage... you have to shed your inhibitions and truly unleash your unbridled enthusiasm for music.
My six years at the museum afforded numerous opportunities to be in the presence of music royalty (Nick Mason, Dick Dale, Ruth Brown) and share my passion for music with visitors from all over the world. I forged many solid friendships with like-minded musicians, played in a couple bands comprised of EMP staff, and generally enjoyed my time there.
Every year, there was always talk of hourly staff reductions and layoffs, which put a damper on the overall morale at the museum. GSRs - Guest Service Reps - and Security are the "faces" of the museum. In other words, they are the first people museum guests see when they enter the building, and they are expected to be cheerful in order to ensure an amazing experience for guests. When a staff member is unsure whether or not he/she will have a job the next day, that makes him/her unfocused and wary, and this reflects in his/her attitude towards museum guests and potential members.
Reviews are quarterly, but raises are not, and that is very frustrating. In my six years at the museum, I had two raises. The first one was a dollar an hour, about 1.5 years after I started, and this is when I finally got benefits (insurance, 401(k), etc) The second one was about two years later, and for $0.61/hour. Meanwhile, many members of the executive team pulled in six figure salaries per year, according to NPO disclosures on GuideStar.org and the CEO pulled in $330k. For comparison, the CEO of the Seattle Art Museum earned $320k and the CEO of the Museum of Flight earned $220k in the same time period (per CharityNavigator.org), so there was certainly an "ivory tower" syndrome that pervaded senior management and caused rifts between the executive team and floor staff.
On the topic of the executive team, I saw four CEOs in four years, each one with a different vision of the museum and a different set of priorities. One CEO cut core museum staff 37% on his first day. Another CEO whittled the membership department - critical to a self-sustaining NPO - to three people, down from 10. So, all of a sudden, 3 people had to do the work of 10, which turned out to be a very poor decision and the ripple effects led to museum-wide inefficiencies.
Advice to Management
Senior Executives: Ask museum staff what YOU could do to put a little more pep in their step. Not saying that you should work an 18-hour shift on New Years Eve followed by a 10-hour shift New Years Day (with 5 hours sleep in between), but step away from your desk and onto the museum floor. Get involved and learn how the museum really works from the bottom-up. Don't implement inane policies at the drop of a hat. Last, see the museum for what it really is - a cultural gem of Seattle - and stop running it like a corporation.
I worked at EMP Museum full-time (More than 5 years)
The title says it all - there are not many other places in Seattle (or elsewhere for that matter) where you have the opportunity to work on a variety of subject matter, or with a great set of coworkers like the EMP.
While I was working there, I learned and grew as a employee tremendously. However, there was a very clear ceiling (both in career and salary), and if I wanted to move past it, I would need to leave. The organization attracts great people, but they all leave because there is only so far you can go there.
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