What I'm Up To
For the second year in a row, I was lucky enough to get to ring in the new year with some amazing new friends and emerging museum professionals. As the program coordinator for the Greater Phoenix Emerging Museum Professionals, it's up to me to plan events, meet-ups, and programs. Since I've taken over the Greater Phoenix EMP's, I've learned a lot and every time I plan an event, I am amazed and humbled all over again by the quality of those emerging professionals in my field.
This year's Happy New Year Happy Hour was at OHSO Brewery in Arcadia and there were some new faces and some old friends. The conversation was even better than the guac (which is really saying something, because that guac is incredible). Thanks for making working in AZ museums so much fun, you guys! Can't wait for more fun in 2016!
During summer 2015, I was selected to be a member of the second class of Manifesto Project-AZ apprentices. Manifesto Project-AZ has a mission to connect millennial professionals to partner organizations as non-voting board members.
From the Manifesto Project-AZ's facebook page
I was paired with the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center in Phoenix (in the East Lake Park neighborhood). It's a Head Start program in Arizona for preschool-age children and their families. What have my takeaways been so far?
So far, it's been an invaluable learning experience and I've learned that their mission, supporting families in the East Lake Park neighborhood, is one that I'm passionate about.
2015 was a year to remember. Professionally, I had a lot of firsts. I supervised an intern for the first time. I wrote my first resignation letter. I joined my first non-profit Board. I spoke to a college Museum Studies class. I took 6Sigma (process improvement) training. I coordinated and moderated a panel of speakers at a museum conference. I collaborated with educators from another museum to create a volunteer training session. I took CPR Training (my "practice dummy" lived, thanks to my fast-acting efforts to revive her!). Developed pre-Kindergarten programs for the first time.
I could not be more proud of "2015 Niki." She's a busy, driven person. But, I can't expect "2016 Niki" to out-do her by simply doing more. No. Instead, I hope to use the momentum from my first few years in the museum field as a springboard into 2016. This will be my fifth year working at the same institution and my eighth year in museums. It's no longer about checking things off my "firsts" list.
Actress Emma Stone said something along the lines of, "you get to this point in your career, where you don't feel like you just have to take every little thing that comes your way. You get to pick and choose and something amazing happens: you get to begin to do your own thing." Far from pick my own roles as an award-winning actress, I still relate to that idea, at its core.
When I first began working in museums, I was desperate to prove myself - I said "yes" to every project, joined every association, took on every extra-curricular activity I could because I knew I just needed to get myself out there. But somewhere along the way, I began to learn what I was good at, and what I was better at and, most importantly, what I really love and how I can really do the most good in my field.
In 2016, I hope to do what I really love - and to be as present and focused as possible while doing it.
Niki Cuccinotto is the Museum Guide & Curriculum Coordinator at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. She also volunteers at Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Foundation in Scottsdale, as well as the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix. She is active in the Greater Phoenix Emerging Museum Professionals as well as the Museum Association of Arizona. She is also a professional member of the American Alliance of Museums.