Kaitlyn Hill (2015)
I worked at the Millet & District Museum, Archives, & Visitor Services in the summer of 2015. I believe I found the position being advertised on one of those job sites like Indeed. During those days I spent a lot of time Googling “museum/archive jobs Alberta.” Both museum and archive jobs were hard to come by - even harder now with funding cuts.
My university degree was in History & Classics. History has always been a huge interest of mine. I then attended the Library & Information program at MacEwan University to refine my education to archives. Working at the Millet Museum was extremely appealing to me as I got to gain experience in archives, research, creating/maintaining exhibits, and teaching history to others. A bonus was that it was close to Edmonton where I lived at the time! It was difficult finding a museum/archives summer job near the city.
While working at the museum that summer, the greatest skill I grew was customer service. It wasn’t my first customer service job, but because the museum is extremely diverse in the services it offers, I learned to be quick on my feet, problem solve, and go above and beyond for our patrons. It was also important to all of us working/volunteering at the museum to have strong customer service skills because it’s truly a unique and valuable service for a small rural community to have.
I appreciate my time working at the Millet Museum. I have too many memories to count! The mouse in the mailbox that Heather and I rescued. The creepy light in the basement that would turn back on after we turned it off. Playing rock paper scissors to decide who took the next tour. Driving around the county with Taylor and Randy learning about the different services available to the community and tourists. Going out for pizza and drinks after a long weekend. I made lifelong friends who I’m still close to today.
Aside from being an important part of the community, the museum and student funding was important to me. The student funding I received from the YCW was extremely important to continuing my schoolwork. The funding allowed me to not have to work during school. This is extremely important because school itself is a full-time job. I would not have made the honour roll if I had to work while attending school. The funding also made it possible for me to gain experience in a relevant field. It otherwise would’ve taken me years to build up a relevant enough resume to land the job I’m in today.
I’m saddened to say that I’m not really involved in the culture and heritage sectors in my life today. Due to ongoing and shockingly large budget cuts in these sectors, there isn’t much room for employment or volunteer work. Museum, library, and archival collections are dwindling and not being maintained. It’s sad to see as it results in a loss of our history and culture. However, I have taken a personal interest in researching and preserving my own family history using many of the archival skills I learned in school and put to practice while working at the museum.
Currently, I still live in Edmonton - although I changed communities from the northeast side to the southwest side - and my husband and I still have ambitions to move overseas to Europe and open a brewery. Between working a full-time job and building a full-time business on the side, my time is definitely limited. However, once a year I make the time to fundraise and participate in the CIBC Run for the Cure. Breast cancer runs in my family and it’s important to me to help the cause. Otherwise, my activities include the things that make me happy and help feed my soul including photography, yoga, weightlifting, painting, baking, and travelling the world - 11 countries and counting.
The five years it’s been between working at the museum and now have been full of accomplishments and moments to treasure! I graduated from MacEwan University with a Library and Information Technology diploma, worked at a high school as a library technician for a year, and have now been working at the University of Alberta Library as an acquisitions assistant for three and a half years. Two years ago, I started my photography business, Clover & Thistle Images, specializing in elopements, couples photography, and female portraiture. But the achievement that I’m most proud of is not the degrees, diplomas, and the work experience. It’s coming to learn who I am as an individual. I’ve learned that desk jobs aren’t for me. I’ve learned that travelling and being creative in my work is what makes me happy. And without all of my previous experiences, I never would’ve learned this.
So, my advice to summer students, recent graduates, and those unsure of where to go in life: don’t take life too seriously - have fun. Money definitely buys you the freedom to do the things you enjoy, but it doesn’t buy happiness or passion. Find your passion and run with it. It will make you money, and probably more money than the traditional job because passion makes you work harder and enjoy that work. Also, don’t take work too seriously. Be professional and take pride in your work. But unless you’re an emergency room surgeon, things can wait. Don’t stress yourself out and sacrifice your mental health for a job. Work will still be there tomorrow. If we learned anything during this pandemic, it’s to slow down a bit. Appreciate your experiences and use them to learn who you are.