2024 Career Conversations

Annual virtual event connecting students and emerging professionals with those working in the field. Sponsored by the Western Illinois University Museum Studies program.


Join museum professionals and students from across the state for Career Conversations 2024 on Thursday, April 11th from 6 to 7:30pm. Sponsored by the Western Illinois University Museum Studies program, this virtual ZOOM event is for emerging professionals, professionals in career transition, and any individuals interested in connecting with these vibrant groups of professionals. 

During Career Conversations 2024 panelists will share their educational and career paths, talk about the road to their current positions, explore the highs and lows of working in cultural institutions, and answer YOUR questions. The goal of this event is to highlight the diversity of paths in the museum field and the choices some professionals have made for their education and career.

Have a question you would like to ask in advance? Fill out the survey!

This is a free event, but registration is required to receive the link. 



Need assistance regarding Career Conversations 2024 or have an internship / employment opportunity to highlight? Contact [email protected].


Nicholas Erickson has worked for the Grout Museum District in Waterloo for ten years.  Since 2017, he has served as the registrar.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Luther College in Decorah (2013) and a master’s in public history from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls (2018).

Julia Jessen received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 2014 and her Master of Arts degrees in art history and museum studies from Syracuse University in 2020. She previously served as the education coordinator at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (now the Stanley Museum of Art) and as the registrar at the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. She joined the staff of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in July 2023 as Curator of Collections and Exhibitions.

Kelly Lao is a non-profit professional focusing on museum leadership. Her expertise includes fundraising and development to reach budgetary goals, cultivating community exhibition and educational programming, and strategy for 21st-century museums. She studies museum representation through oral history collections and institutional relationships with mis- or underrepresented communities. Additionally, she advocates for artistic opportunities and collaboration between practicing artists and educational institutions and for funding these operations at the state and federal levels.

Jolie Pelds is the Director of Innovative STEM Teaching at the Science Center of Iowa. She received her undergraduate degree in Biology and a master’s degree in Science Education both from the University of Iowa. She has taught at both the secondary as well as collegiate level. Her current work at SCI allows her to strengthen STEM education across the state through professional development and the creation of educational programming for early learners, homeschoolers, parents and teachers.

Hope Stropes, Associate Curator, Ella Sharp Museum. Hope graduated from Western Illinois University with her master’s in museum studies in December of 2022. While studying at WIU, Hope worked as a Graduate Assistant at the Putnam Museum & Science Center. She is currently the Associate Curator at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan. Hope’s experience is primarily in collections care and exhibits.

Sponsored by the Western Illinois University Museum Studies program.

4/11/2024 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Central Daylight Time

Sign in below to register and see prices for events