5 for Friday – Things I Wish I Learned in Grad School

Introducing a new reoccurring post for the blog – I pick a theme and then write five items around that theme.

This 5 for Friday is a contemplative one – five things I wish I had learned in graduate school. Although I graduated with M.S. Historic Preservation degree almost two and a half years ago, I feel like I’ve learned almost just as much in the past two years. I know that it’s simply impossible for MSHP programs to cover everything essential for those in the professional field, but I’ve contemplated on some items I think I should have taken the time to get a grasp on while in school.

1. Learn ArcGIS. Anyone going into historic preservation should take the time to learn this computer program. I have had to learn ArcGIS primarily on my own, although I did splurge and paid to take a small workshop. If you want to go into the historic preservation field, I highly recommend taking an ArcGIS class in undergrad or graduate school.

2. Gain an understanding of the nexus between the archaeology and historic preservation fields. In the real world, the work of archaeologists and historians is very much intertwined. I work with three great archaeologists, but sometimes I think they are speaking a foreign language.

3. Non-profit management and fundraising techniques. Although I work in the government side of preservation, I know many former classmates who specifically mention this as the one item they wish they had learned. I know many jobs ask for fundraising experience – but no way to acquire this training.

Camp Atterbury – Pratt through Truss bridge – a Historic Bridge

4. Anything about historic bridges. I think those working in the CRM field can attest to the widespread work done on historic bridges, through contract work or employment with state DOTs. Even in my position, we have a handful of historic bridges that require state and federal compliance. Bridges are an important historic resource and understanding bridge types and bridge issues would make future preservationists more equipped to handle these resource types.

5. How to combine preservation principles with other fields to achieve common goals. Although we are taught and understand the interdisciplinary nature of the field, how about learning how to bridge preservation and sustainability? Preservation as the more economical option? Preservation ideals are imbedded in many other concepts and it’s all about finding the right mix for each project and each person.

Now, I open it up to any historic preservation graduate school alumni – I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you wish you would’ve learned?

One Comment

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  1. pistachiothinking November 16, 2012 — 11:59 am

    I agree w/ you (but you already knew that). Only one I would “question” is bridges. But that’s just because I don’t encounter them. I think fundraising/nonprofit management (even if it’s just to understand how to work WITH nonprofits), and how to discuss preservation with non preservationists (primarily vocab, and discussing the holistic nature of hp and how it meshes with other industries and interest groups/socal movements) are both key “real world” things missing from most HP programs.

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