The Western Museums Association (WMA) understands that it is important to continuously develop your profession, whether you're connecting with professional peers, learning new skills, or expanding your perspectives; and WMA's Annual Meeting is a professional development opportunity like no other. Through the Annual Meeting, 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.
But like most, if you're a working professional or student with limited resources, you might be wondering how you can justify your attendace.
WMA offers this Justification Toolkit - a free resource to help you demonstrate the rewards of the investment of your attendance to your supervisors or organization. By verbalizing the numbers of new skills you will learn, the networking opportunities that will be available, and the ultimate benefits attendees bring back to their organizations, you can strengthen your case for receiving support.
Here are some simple ways the WMA Annual Meeting can advance your professional skill sets:
- Learn from industry leaders who present invaluable lessons and research within over 40 sessions and workshops, in seven interdisciplinary tracks including buisness, collections management, and more!
- Network with hundreds of pofessional peers and leaders from all museum disciplines and form lasting connections.
- Demonstrate your knowledge and skills during interactive programming and off-site events.
- Explore contemporary topics and innovative solutions with inspirational speakers during the General Session Panels.
- Exchange your ideas and business cards with speakers and attendees.
- Evaluate the latest industry products, programs, and services presented in the largest Exhibit Hall and Conference specifically dedicated to museums in the West.
How to Ask for Institutional Support
One of the main benefits of conference attendance is networking, which can be a difficult value to quantify. Therefore, focus your request on outcomes including specific activities and take-aways. Here are some tips when it comes to asking for institutional support:
Before you present your case, you need to:
- Understand the Expense (Investment) and the Return on Investment. Here is a great resource for learning how to justify the expense of attending a conference and example worksheets you can use.
- Support your case by knowing the benefits that come from seeking professional development outside of your content specialty. Click here.
- Prepare a plan that a.) shows which colleagues will cover for your responsibilities while you are attending the conference, b.) outlines the goals you are going to achieve while attending, and c.) what information you are going to seek out and bring back
How to ask and present your case:
- Send your manager a formal letter outlining specific sessions you will attend
- Offer to collect materials and hand-outs that will be helpful to those in your immediate department, as well as others throughout your organization
- Offer to complete a post-conference summary
- Offer to prepare and deliver a short presentation and Q&A to your colleagues sharing what you learned. These mini-sessions ensure that others in your department will also benefit from your attendance.