Laura E. Smith

Associate Professor of Art History, Michigan State University

Senior Research and Professional Development

Description: Development of professional skills, including professional writing skills, resume/curriculum vitae, letters of applications, grants, fellowship writing, communication and presentation skills.  Workshop format.

Corequisite:  HA499S  Students will conduct independent research under the guidance of an art history faculty in the appropriate field on a topic of their choice and produce a substantive original paper in which they demonstrate their ability to comprehend the scholarly literature on the topic, to subject it to appropriate methods of analysis, and to present the results in well-written and professionally documented form. This part of the class culminates in a symposium that centers on a collective theme.

Course Goals:

•Define one or more tracks guiding your career search

•Create self-marketing tools for employers and/or graduate schools(resume, cover letters, personal statements)

•Identify project or higher education funding and employment resources

•Network with professionals currently working in art and/or art history fields.

•Respond to and prepare questions asked in professional interviews

•Demonstrate a professional image in a public forum for presenting your research

Required Books:

MSU Career Passport – provided by Career Services (FREE)

Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2007)

Symposium theme and research topics:

The symposium will be held Friday afternoon, December 2.  The following are the deadlines for your research paper.  We will pick a theme for the symposium after reviewing everyone’s topics.

Week III  DUE: Determine a paper topic in consultation with your adviser. Turn in a copy to me and to your adviser.

Week V Due: working bibliography, present to adviser and submit a copy to me

Week VIII DUE: submit a thesis statement and an outline of your paper to me and your adviser

Week X DUE: submit a rough draft of your paper to your adviser

Week XIII DUE:  submit “next to final draft” to your adviser

Week XV Symposium

Week XVI – Finals Week DUE: submit final draft to your adviser

Week I

September 7    Introduction to class goals

  • Agenda:-review syllabus
  • -set up practice presentation dates
  • -M&Mgame
  • -Free Writing Exercise: Finding the Questions and Establishing a Role.

**Library Assignment Homework:  Susan Haubenstock and David Joselit, Career Opportunities in Art (2001).

  • 1) Pick out your top three choices
  • 2) Type up to turn in a 1-2 page summary about your choices.  You might include answers to the following questions: what’s appealing about them; what skills needed; what are your career dreams or goals; what questions do you have about these careers; how do these careers build on some of your personal strengths; what do you not want to do
  • NOTE: If you don’t find a career choice in this book, you are free to add alternatives. 
  • See “Career Alternatives in Art History”  or “Career Guide for Art History Majors”
  • 3) Take the Personality Assessment Quiz -Meyers-Briggs test
  • Add in a few sentences to the summary about what you learned about your personality and how your career choices are perfect for you or might be challenging for your personality type.

Week II 

September 14  Careers in Art History

  • Agenda: 1)  Job Opportunities for art historians beyond the Museum and Academia
  • Guest Speakers: MSU Art History Librarian and Visual Resources Librarian
  • 2) DUE: Library Assignment and Myers-Briggs test
  • -sharing career choices assignment and Meyer’s Briggs test findings
  • -In-class writing exercise: Networking and Interviewing
  • 3) Informational interviews and networking

Assigned:  **Informational Interviews #1 – (see handout) Due in Drop Box

  • Locate a professional in all three of your chosen career interest areas.  Contact this person and conduct an interview via phone, email, or in person to gain perspective on his/her position and your field.   Does not have to be a local professional.  Remember people are busy so don’t wait until the last minute to contact someone.  Give them time to respond to you or time to set up the interviews.

499s DUE: Determine a paper topic in consultation with your advisor. Turn in a copy to me and to your advisor.


  • Career Passport pp. 8-9, 14-17, 20-21, 52-53
  • Informational Interviews handout
  • “Networking: It’s Not Only What You Know, but Whom You Know,” in What Else You Can Do with a PhD

**For, NEXT WEEK –  1) Bring one copy of a draft of a resume/cv to class.  There are samples and directions in reading assignments for this date. 2) Also, bring a position description for an internship or a job you want to apply for to help develop a cover letter.

Week IV

September 21   Writing a CV versus writing a resume

  • 1) Career Services Presentation (2.5 hours):  Resume Development and cover letters for job applications
  • In-Class: resume/cv development and cover letter writing.
  • In-class writing exercise: practice cover letter writing for a job and grad school; peer review
  • 2) Presentation: Academic Jobs and Professional Organizations
  • CAA Website – Affiliated Societies – Art History Professional Organizations


  •   *College Art Association, Curriculum Vitae for Art Historians
  •   *Laura Smith’s CV
  •   * Career Passport, pp. 24-35
  •   *After Fighting for PhD, Some Wondering Why
  •   *Faculty Towers The Crisis in Education

For next week:

  • 1) Revised resume/cv and cover letter
  • 2) Career Info Interviews in Drop Box
  • 3) Working bibliography for your final project.        

Week V

September  28   Chicago Manual Style – Source Citation and Bibliographies

  • 1) Overview and Turabian reading
  • 2)In-class: peer review of bibliographies according to CMS standards
  • 3) Symposium theme discussion
  • 4) Presentation: Presenting at professional conferences or other forumsDevelop criteria for good presentations
  • Handling criticism during a presentation
  • Video-clips from MDID – view and critique professional art history and art critic presentations
  • DUE in Drop Box: Career Informational Interviews
  • DUE: (hard copy) revised resume and cover letter

499s Due: working bibliography, present to advisor and submit a copy to me


  •  Turabian, pp. 133-280, 122-126
  • Oral Presentations of Art Historical Research: Tricks of the Trade
  • Handling Criticism

Week VI

October 5  Arts Administration Careers

Guest Speaker: Program Manager, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA)

For next week: Bring a working thesis statement and outline for your paper.

Week VII

October   12   Museum Careers

  • Guest Speakers: Broad Museum staff.  Museum careers in administration, development, installation, and a registrar.
  • Thesis statements and developing outlines
  • Reading;    Turabian pp. 12-23, 48-70


October  19    Graduate Schools

  • 1) Career Services Presentation (1.5 hours): -why grad school?, when is the right time?
  • 2) In-class writing exercise:  Writing a personal statement and peer review. 
  • Final draft due: October 26

3) Assigned: Graduate School Informational Interviews #2.  DUE in Drop Box. Use the same Informational Interview form as last time, but use the questions below to guide the conversation.   Find two professionals in your chosen field who went to grad school and type up your findings related to the following questions:

  • What are some of the reasons for attending grad school?
  •  What are some of the disadvantages?
  •  How did you determine which grad school to attend?
  •  What are the procedures to apply for admission to grad school?
  • How much does grad school cost?
  • How do you finance a graduate school education?
  • How do you know where to go to graduate school? Funding Graduate School.

499s DUE: submit a thesis statement and an outline of your paper to me and your advisor


  • Career Passport, pp. 18-19, 36
  • Reference:  Graduate Programs in Art History: the CAA directory, pp. iv-ix.  N385 .G73 2008 (Fine Arts Library Reference)

Next Week:  Prepare a rough draft of your paper and bring in to class. Bring Turabian book to class.

Week IX

October 26  The Interview

1)  Career Services Presentation:  Interviewing (1 hour presentation)-students decide whether to do grad school or job interviews on November

Assigned: Interview Preparation –

  • Decide where and what position (or graduate program) you are going to do a mock interview.  Identify a place or a program. Find a job or program description. 
  • Visit Review the questions and practice answering them.

2) In-class: peer review and revising of research paper drafts; -review Turabian guidelines for revising papers and set up guidelines for peer review

DUE:  Personal statements. 


  • Turabian, pp. 98-101, 109-119
  • Career Passport, pp. 54-55, 58-59

Week X

November 2  Grants and Fellowships in Art and Art History for Graduate Students

  • Share Grad School Interview findings
  •  Review Resources for Researching Grants and Fellowships
  •  In-class exercise: Identify 2-3 possible funding resources to further your research project, if it was possible to extend the time.

Publishing: Getting Started   

  • Presentation
  •  Lara Evan’s blog

DUE in Drop Box: Graduate School Informational Interviews #2

Readings:  ….can skim these first few resources…..

  • Indiana University, Writing Fellowship and Grant Proposals: A Guide for Graduate Students, various excerpts
  • Susan Bielstein, “What is copyright?” and “Doing and Saying: Whatever it Takes in the Name of Scholarship,” in Permissions: A Survival Guide.
  • James Hartley, “Choosing Where to Publish,” and “Delays in the Publishing Process,” in Academic Writing and Publishing (2008).
  • Check-out art historian Lara Evans’ blog:  Not Artomatic: a blog wrestling with art, especially review the “About” page

499s DUE: submit a rough draft of your paper to your advisor

Week XI

November 9 Art Gallery and Government Careers

Guest speakers: Assistant Professor, Ceramics, running a gallery and MSU art history alum, working in city planning

Practice Presentations

Next week: Prepare for interviews.  See resources for Oct. 26.

Week XII

November   16 The Interview

Career Services: In-class Mock Interviews


November   23  Thanksgiving Break

499s DUE (Before you leave for break) :  submit “next to final draft” to your advisor

Week XIV

November 30 Practice Presentations

December 2,  1-4:30pm Symposium

Week XV

December 6    Careers in Historic Preservation

Week XVI

Finals Week

499s DUE: submit final draft to your advisor