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Career Development

Alumnus puts Art History degree to work at Museum of Contemporary Craft

February 19, 2014

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Name: Kyle Yoshioka

Graduation Year: 2013

Hometown: Petaluma, California

Current Employer: Museum of Contemporary Craft

Major at LC: Art History

Other Involvements at LC: Pamplin Society of Fellows, Executive Board Member of the Pluralism & Unity Project, Queer Resource Center counselor, Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium art curator, Dean of Students Office and Department of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement employee

Career Development Center: Where are you working? Please describe a typical workday.

Kyle Yoshioka: I learned early on that there is no typical workday as the Manager of Public Engagement and Facilities at Museum of Contemporary Craft. Many things fall under my purview, including management of our volunteer program, scheduling tours, providing administrative support for our director, fixing things that break, and so on. On some days, the balance of things tips more towards working with our amazing volunteers, on others it’s all about helping install our next exhibition. It keeps things very busy and constantly in flux, which I love.

CDC: What inspired you to explore this field?

KY: In most conversations about my future, academia and museum work were presented as my only options as an Art History student. I bought into this narrative early on in my studies despite warnings of the hostility and elitism of those fields (I’d like to mention that my professors never confined my options in this way – they have always been supportive, creative, and open-minded). But I’m stubborn, so I actively cultivated a fascination for the museum context and all of its positive and problematic aspects. Pursuing an internship and then employment at Museum of Contemporary Craft proved to be an ideal move because, as an institution, it asks and enacts many of the questions I have about museums. It defies the traditional, authoritative model that many museums inherit and successfully provides a dialogical, egalitarian engagement with its audiences. I find this to be a responsible, innovative, and relevant curatorial approach and I’m proud to have a stake in this cultural conversation. It has also opened my eyes to the numerous ways in which one can engage with art, craft, and design that extend far beyond institutional settings. I now firmly believe that Art History is an important, productive field with diverse applications. Art is pervasive, endlessly varied, and frequently backed by staggering amounts of money, so you’re all the better off if you’re familiar with ways to interpret and respond to it.

CDC: How has your liberal arts education prepared you for life beyond college? What skills/competencies did you emphasize during the application/recruitment/interview process that resonated with the employer?

KY: I’m wary of the idea that the liberal arts education teaches people “how to think” because it’s so vague yet it seems to imply that there’s some “right” way to think that we should all be emulating. I would push against that aphorism and say that my education encouraged me to never stop thinking, which I find to be a valuable practice. Basically, it developed my capacity to decipher the masses of information constantly swirling around me and to then lucidly relate my ideas to others. This is a bit reductive, but it underlies so many practical and professional skills.  

CDC: What has surprised you most about life after college?

KY: It might be heretical to say, but life has become surprisingly manageable since graduating. My days aren’t anywhere near as long. But I’m also surprised by how much I miss having a schedule with built-in time for learning. When I get home from work, the choice between reading a textbook for pleasure and marathoning reruns of Game of Thrones becomes a little too easy.

CDC: What advice would you give graduating seniors getting ready to enter the workforce?

KY: I would advise graduating seniors to accept any opportunity to do something they suspect might be good for them. Whether that means traveling for a bit, picking up some odd jobs, or accepting an unexpectedly cozy position doesn’t really matter so long as it’s done earnestly. Also, learning to worry productively and not excessively is helpful. Finally, it’s probably important to accept that, if you’re like me, you’re in your early twenties and you really have no idea what’s going on. And that’s alright for now.