Emily Dattilo ('15)
When I decided to major in Anthropology as an undergraduate, in addition to History, I had no idea that my choice of majors would be so foundational to my career path. Mentors and museum professionals always told me that the best way to pursue a career in museums is to have experience—lots of experience—and because of my early experiences in museum collections through Loyola’s Anthropology classes, I’ve had a solid start to my museum career. My first hands-on experience in museum work was through interning in the May Weber Ethnographic Collection. I was one of the first students to take Dr. Nichols’ Collecting and Caring for Cultural Materials internship class and so I helped unpack and organize the new collection, while also learning how to take care of the artifacts. This year of learning gave me the experience I needed to be qualified for internships at other museums.
After graduating from Loyola in 2015, I went on to Marquette University for my Master’s degree in History. Although I studied United States History, I brought my Anthropology background into my research by incorporating material culture. Taking Dr. Adams’ Anthropology of Art class while at Loyola helped me be able to read historic objects in a way that offered insight into how past Americans saw their world. Outside of classes and my responsibilities as a Teaching Assistant, I continued to gain museum experience at Marquette. I enrolled in every Public History class offered to graduate students, and during the summers I interned at museums in Milwaukee. One summer I worked with historic clothing and textiles (my favorite kind of objects to work with!) at the Milwaukee County Historical Society, and this past summer I was at the Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear.
This combination of academic and experiential training, along with plenty of guidance from mentors, led me to one of the best rewards a recent graduate could ask for: a job. I am now a part-time Collections Assistant, specifically for the historic clothing and textile collection, at the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum. Unlike most graduates, I’ve ended up roughly where I had hoped I’d be, working in a museum with a collection I’m passionate about. What I didn’t expect was that I’d be living out even a little piece of my dreams so early in my career. I’m grateful for the unexpectedly pleasant way my career has begun, and I’m excited to see where my experiences take me in the future.