Providence Children’s Museum Alumni Interview

For this AmeriCorps team highlight, I interviewed three AC alumni who stayed on (or returned!) to be full-time staff members at the Providence Children’s Museum. Megan Beauregard served from June 2012-August 2013 bringing programming to Head Start  classrooms and out-of-school time programs; she is now as an Experience Coordinator, working on a team managing the day-to-day operations of the Museum to ensure quality experiences for all our visitors. Julie Burkhard served on the 2010-2011 MuseumCorps team as the Volunteer Coordinator; she currently is the Volunteer & AmeriCorps Coordinator, managing the volunteer program at the Museum and supporting the recruitment, scheduling and training for the MuseumCorps team. Robin Meisner served in Head Start classrooms on the 1998-1999 MuseumCorps team and currently is the Director of Exhibits, overseeing development and fabrication of new exhibits as well as maintaining current exhibits at the Museum.

-What did you enjoy most about your experience?

MB: What I enjoyed most about my experience was having the chance to grow as an individual and learn more information about the Museum.

JB: I enjoyed the wide variety of experience I got here at the Museum. […] Over time, I took on more leadership roles, and started training volunteers and leading Museum classes for field trips.  All of this really helped me to better understand how people are like puzzle pieces that help organizations run smoothly and effectively, from volunteers, to supervisors, to directors, and helped shape my passion for being a “people organizer”.

RM: I loved working directly with the children – the Head Start kids and play guiding in our exhibits.

-How did you end up (back) at PCM?

MB: I always say to people that once I started at Providence Children’s Museum, I didn’t want to leave! It’s an enriching environment, not only for the children and their families, but for the workers as well. PCM gave a lot of professional development opportunities and job searching workshops for AmeriCorps that made me realize that I was happy right where I was.

JB: I was hired as an Experience Coordinator (floor manager) after I completed my AmeriCorps term. […]After 6 months, my current position opened up, working with volunteers and AmeriCorps members, and I knew that should be my next step.  I really wanted to get more “HR” experience, such as the hiring process and keeping track of financial records. My AmeriCorps year really helped to inform my passion for organizing people, and I’m looking forward to a career in some sort of Human Resources-type environment; for now it’s organizing volunteers and AmeriCorps members here at the Museum!

RM: My AC year at the Museum very much shaped my career… during that year, I was hired as the Museum’s Science Developer – responsible for our science exhibits, programs and community outreach. After five years at the Museum, I went to grad school and then worked at other Museums before returning here in 2011[…] I never expected to become a museum person – I just knew I loved science and working with kids.

-Do you think the program has grown/changed-if so, how?

MB: Just watching this year’s team come in with their own creative ideas and goals makes the team and program a whole unique experience for them and the Museum. It’s still a surreal thing for me to look into the office where I was less than a year ago and looking at it now with a whole new energy to it.

JB: I think the program has definitely grown and changed, even in the last 3 years that I’ve been here.  We’ve been working to create more long-lasting partnerships, which has its challenges, but also its benefits, as we get to work with children for longer periods of time, and get more of a glimpse of the impact we’re having on them.

RM: I think the program has influenced the Museum is good ways.  For example, through the commitment the Museum can make through the program to the Head Start and community center families, the Museum’s general audience has become more diverse over time.

-Any words of advice for current/future ACs?

MB: It still amazes me what can come out of just letting guards down and branching out and listening and trying new ideas. I think having that concept in mind as you go throughout your year will give you the most enriching experience and will carry through until way after your year is over.

JB: Offer to help.  Some of my favorite memories and conversations happened informally while we were cleaning up  after? trainings or traveling for special events.  I also think it helps show your supervisors that you can master your responsibilities and take on more leadership roles.

RM: Take full advantage of the range of opportunities for learning and doing at the Museum.

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