Everyone has cut back due to the economic recession and it is no different in the museum industry. Websites like Artinfo.com have been meticulously documenting layoffs and cutbacks in our favorite institutions since the Detroit Institute of Arts announced a potential budget cut in September of 2008. Everyone is concerned, sad, and scared as employees are left watching the desks around them become cleared– at least that’s how I perceived it when I was working in a museum environment during the recession… until I choose to leave in mid-May.
Don’t get me wrong; I had an incredible job at a great museum, but I am starting graduate school in the Fall. After two years of wrestling to find time to get home, I decided to spend two months relaxing with loved ones and living life to the fullest before classes begin in mid-August. Despite that leaving was my own decision, I’m not any better off than a person who has been laid-off. In fact, I cannot collect unemployment, my monthly medical insurance payments are horrendous, and I’m about to take out several thousand dollars in student loans. But I don’t regret leaving, and I figured out exactly why when I was on the road and unemployed, exploring the Midwest:
1. Interesting fact about recessions… they end.
This recession is temporary–or they’d call it something else. As I was weighing the opportunity cost of leaving my job sooner than absolutely necessary, I uncovered a personal fact: if I didn’t take up this two-month adventure right now, my next chance may not be until after I retire- and my life will be very different then. I refused to miss my moment because of the recession. Life goes on. My aspirations, goals, morals, and priorities do not change- but, as the billboard reminds us– recessions end.
2. Bill Gates started Microsoft in a recession
In fact, Burger King, IHOP, FedEx, LexisNexis, Trader Joe’s, Wikipedia, Sports Illustrated, the Jim Henson Company, MTV Networks, CNN, Hewlett-Packard, and General Electric were all started during recessions. While recessions sometimes weed out not-so-strong companies, the economic climate uncovers societal and personal needs that, when filled, create huge success. Stay inspired! This can be an exciting time for new endeavours.
3. Self worth beats net worth
I would fist-bump this billboard if I were tall enough.
4. Experience and talent are recession-proof assets
If you are good, you’ll find something good. You can make the most of your time while looking for jobs by conquering social media, working on your personal branding, building connections, and staying on top of your industry, for starters. Keep doing your thing. I don’t know anyone who has said, “Albert Einstein would have been a genius if it weren’t for that darn recession!” Great talent is great talent.
5. It’s a test not a final
I like this way of looking at the recession. It’s our individual responsibility to learn from this and come out of it stronger and wiser… and it won’t (shouldn’t) kill us.
6. Nobody can repossess your future
My value grows as I drink in everything that nonprofits and museums are doing to beat out this economy. I’m reflecting on lessons I learned from past experiences, reading blogs by other young professionals, looking up the qualifications for my down-the-road dream jobs, swimming blissfully in my course options for graduate school, printing maps of my new neighborhood in LA, and actually enjoying right now– a time in which I am in limbo and unemployed during an economic recession. Something great is on the way.
I’m not suggesting that anyone leave their full-time job during an economic recession without good reason. What I am suggesting is that, should we find ourselves without a job during an economic recession (whether it was our own decision or not), we keep the messages on these billboards in the back of our minds. I would have left my job in mid-May to spend time with loved ones before starting graduate school in August if we were not in this recession- and the economic climate does not negate the personal importance that I place on seeing family members again and taking time to reflect between life chapters (revisit experience and talent are recession- proof assets).
I hope that these billboards inspire you, and that you have the opportunity to see them on the road for yourself.