Continuously developing the museum profession is important, whether by connecting with professional peers, learning about new projects and tools, or expanding perspectives. All too often, though, professional development comes down to a question of numbers.
The Western Museums Association (WMA) offers this Justification Toolkit for your attendance to the Annual Meeting. As a resource, the Justification Toolkit will help you demonstrate the rewards of the investment of your attendance to your supervisors. By verbalizing the numbers of new skills you will learn, the networking opportunities available, and the ultimate benefits WMA Annual Meeting attendees bring back to their organizations you strengthen your case for receiving support from your organization.
Before you ask your organization to support your professional development, here are some general tips to get started with:
- WMA offers a cross-disciplinary approach that gives you the opportunity to expand your current abilities and develop the capacity to see your specialty in the context of the whole museum field. Read More About the Benefits of Seeking Professional Development Outside of Your Content Specialty here.
- Write a letter to your manager explaining the Return on Investment (ROI) for your attendance to WMA 2016 (Click here for a template).
- Prepare a plan that shows which colleagues will cover for your responsibilities while you are attending the conference.
Here are some simple ways the WMA Annual Meeting advances your professional skill sets:
- Learn from leaders in the field. Over forty sessions and workshops in seven interdisciplinary tracks provide invaluable access to museum leaders.
- Network with peers and leaders from all areas of museums.
- Share ideas and visions during interactive programming and off-site events.
- Explore new and innovative solutions at the general sessions with intriguing, inspirational speakers and topics.
- Exchange ideas with speakers and fellow participants. Reach out to particular people in advance to set up meetings and learn exactly what you need to know!
- Evaluate the latest products, programs, and services in the largest Exhibit Hall and conference specifically dedicated to museums in the West.
Quantifying conference attendance benefits can be a bit trickier. One of the main benefits of conference attendance is networking, even though this can be a difficult value to quantify. Therefore, focus your request on outcomes including specific activities and take-aways. Here are some tools for asking for institutional support:
- Send your manager a formal letter outlining specific sessions you will attend.
- Complete this Return on Investment (ROI) to create a quantified list of the benefits of your attendance.
- Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation and Q&A to your colleagues to share what you learned. These mini-sessions ensure that others in your department will get the benefits of your attendance.
- Offer to collect materials and hand-outs that will be helpful to those in your immediate department, as well as others throughout your organization.