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 Post subject: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:48 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:39 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Peoria, IL
Hi all, this is my first post on the RYPN interchange so ill introduce myself. I'm Connor Taylor, a 15 year old railfan and rail preservationist based out of Peoria, Illinois. I volunteer at 4 different railroad museums throughout central Illinois 1. Wheels O' Time museum in Dunlap, IL. 2. Chillitcothe historical society's old rock island depot at Chillicothe, IL. 3. Heyworth Railroad Museum in Heyworth, IL, i co own this museum with a few other people and we are a very new museum. 4. A small railroad museum based at the 2FT gauge railroad at Wildlife Prairie Park in Hanna City, IL.

All of this is volunteering work that ive been doing for a little over a year and I'm at the age where I need to focus on my future. I have gained a lot of skills that I'd like to put forward into a full time job. My most recent project has been cleaning up the interior of TP&W No.1, a presidents car used by the Toledo Peoria and Western from 1937 to 1947. Does anyone know a place that would hire someone around my age, with the set of skills i possess.

Thank you,
Connor


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:58 am 

Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:06 pm
Posts: 138
Do any of the four facilities where you volunteer have any paid position openings?

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Steve DeGaetano
Fireman, New Hope Valley Railway


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:03 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:39 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Peoria, IL
Steve DeGaetano wrote:
Do any of the four facilities where you volunteer have any paid position openings?


No. They're all volunteer ran establishments


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:10 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 546
ConnorDoesTrainStuff wrote:

....

All of this is volunteering work that ive been doing for a little over a year and I'm at the age where I need to focus on my future. I have gained a lot of skills that I'd like to put forward into a full time job.

.....

Does anyone know a place that would hire someone around my age, with the set of skills i possess.

Thank you,
Connor


Most of us admire your enthusiasm --- as a 15 year old, you face the challenge of having someone drive you to work and getting you home each day.

That said, have you thought about attending one of the NRHS RailCamp sessions next year?

The two sessions that will be held this summer have been sold out for some time.

For details see NRHS.com

Note that scholarships are available and the funding for these scholarships comes from donations to NRHS.

Bob H


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:20 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:39 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Peoria, IL
Heavenrich wrote:
ConnorDoesTrainStuff wrote:


For details see NRHS.com

Note that scholarships are available and the funding for these scholarships comes from donations to NRHS.

Bob H


I have thought about the idea of attending the railcamp but my parents have turned down the idea because of the distance away from our home


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:35 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:24 pm
Posts: 110
I participated in the RailCamp program a few years ago. It's a very good opportunity to someone your age who is there to take advantage of the resources and meet other like-minded teenagers. It definately exposes the number of opportunities that can be found in both the active railroad and preservation side of things.

I was fully sponsored by the RPCA and my local NRHS chapter. Very good people involved and I still keep in touch with those I met at RailCamp, a great way to network with the younger members of the preservation industry. I recommend getting in touch with your local NRHS chapter and meeting with them and your parents to discuss the program. I have no doubt meeting with those involved will ease your parents worry.

If your goal is to work in the railroad industry, RailCamp is an invaluable experience and tool for getting out there to see what's what.

I'm within a couple hours of your area, and there's not much in a short distance for someone who would work part time and balance school. Perhaps there may be internships available, but for a teenager, learning through volunteering will make you more valuable later on when you're looking for a real job after highschool/tradeschool/college.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:40 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:18 am
Posts: 514
Location: Wall, NJ
Conner:
When you talk about a set of skills, its not real clear what you now possess, but certainly your enthusiasm is very valuable. Keep in mind that any skills you learn in the non-railroad field will be valuable to any museum.

I would tend to suggest that you look for a job locally, keeping the usual labor laws in mind, with a carpenter, house painter, auto mechanic, plumber, even a machine shop if one was around and needed some help. All would provide you the skills to be of even more value to any non-profit organization and provide you with some valuable life skills as well. The most desirable volunteers are not always those with rail experience. Its the skilled craftsmen that are so badly need. And don’t rule out the need for volunteers who can write proficiently to support newsletters and grant applications, who understand how to use excel and organizing projects, who can create and update a web site, etc.

I started as an 11 year old volunteer in 1972 and ending up as chairman of the board so have a feel for where you are coming from. Learn what you can onsite, but augment that with real life skills outside of the organization, eventually bringing it all together as a valuable package not only to support the non-profit, but also in the job market.

Best of luck,
J.R. May


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:32 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:55 pm
Posts: 15
What is stopping your parents from letting you go? Is it funding or is it the thought of sending you to a camp a distance away?

I see you're in Peoria. Can you get in with the IRM crowd?

Mike


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:40 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:33 pm
Posts: 301
Location: Oroville, CA
I would also encourage you to investigate College courses in Museology (Museum Management). I was an adult before I discovered (accidentally!) that such a degree existed (also might be available as certificate program). The classes will expose you to the larger museum world and museum philosophy in the other fields of museums (art, for example) which will be applicable to some railroad preservation and interpretation. It's a fascinating field in which I made a living for a time. While I aspired to work in a railroad or automotive museum (which I did for a few years), I ended up curating a Chinese Temple, an Historic House, a Pioneer life museum, and a tool museum! OH, and I got to try to take care of two park steam engines--I say try, as vandals & outright thefts happened under my watch. AUGH!! Locomotives do NOT belong in outdoor parks!! (in most situations!)
Good Luck to you--and don't get discouraged!

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David Dewey
Help save the last overnight steamboat, Delta Queen!
Write your congressman to support and co-sponsor House Resolution HR-619. This bill only grants her permission to run; there is no cost to us taxpayers.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1538
Location: Southern California
Complete high school and go on from there. I had an instructor that once said that a college degree indicates that you have the perseverance and endurance to complete a long and difficult project.

I know one person who after getting a college degree he worked in the commercial sector for a while, representing a fork lift firm while doing volunteer railroad preservation work and management. Then he was able to apply for and get a position as a historic house curator. Retired early from that, and all the while doing railroad preservation on the side. A couple of years after leaving the historic house he pursued a job in railway preservation. He is now the Museum Director at a developing museum; having the college degree was one of the requirements for the job.

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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:33 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:55 pm
Posts: 15
I agree with the above. Finish High School, go to college (edit: or some type of vocational training), find a degree (edit: or career path) that may align with your interests. While taking that degree (for instance, historic preservation), take some optional courses such as machine shop or woodworking etc to improve your skills. Use that opportunity to explore tools, methods, etc, that would help apply to your chosen college career path.

I have a friend who has a degree in historic preservation. A while back he admitted that he wished that he had taken more machine shop courses. However he is at the point now that he's maintenance foreman at a railroad and doing quite well and he is on a career path with a company that values its employees and their professional development. I am on a completely different career path having been employed for almost five years as an engineer in a foundry for an automotive company but if I was still looking for a job, I'd apply at that company in a heartbeat. My friend is doing quite well and I commend him for a job well done as well as weathering the storms (ranging from a rainstorm to a category five hurricane) that has come his way. The work they have done in that shop speaks for itself, and you won't see him post on forums such as these due to criticism regarding the type of railroad he works at. Let your work speak for itself and the folks that really do matter will take notice. I can tell you that he has received commendations from several very high up in the tourist railroad/preservation industry.

Work hard, learn hard, and focus on having 'fun' last. If you enjoy the work you are doing, while working hard, the 'fun' will come... And you will look back and go "wow, that was fun!" without looking for it.

I think I rambled on a bit and may have gone on a tangent but the moral is simple. Work hard, find a career path that suits you, and pursue it with your heart. If you find early on that it isn't quite cutting it, stick it out a little more to validate your thoughts and if you are still not enjoying it, consult others (counselors at schools are there for a reason, and don't be afraid to talk to friends etc).

Regards,
Mike

Addendum: I am not trying to communicate the mindset that a college/university path is better than the path of "hard knocks". Just because someone is a trash collector, that does not make him better than the person who went to college.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:22 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2256
Location: Northern Illinois
mrwalsh85 wrote:
What is stopping your parents from letting you go? Is it funding or is it the thought of sending you to a camp a distance away?

I see you're in Peoria. Can you get in with the IRM crowd?

Mike


Not likely. More than forty years ago IRM instituted a policy that volunteers had to be eighteen for liability reasons; younger individuals can only work under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. I don't think the policy has changed since then.

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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:31 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8784
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
To add a little bit to the above:

The grim reality is that, for jobs in a "professional" setting in the museum and information environment, the employers are getting significantly more "picky." Peruse the job postings for public libraries, formerly the home of the stereotype matronly woman with glasses shushing talking patrons. Nowadays, just to work the information desk, you are required to have a bachelor's degree in most cases; to work anything higher than that requires a Master's in Library Science. (The role and function of libraries has changed dramatically in the past two decades, just as with any competent museum; they're no longer just warehouses of books/locomotives lined up by Dewey number/type.) It's getting similar at museums. They may find people willing to just sit and make sure someone doesn't touch the "do not touch" exhibits or run a cash register, but anything above that, they demand academic education--and lots of it. (And even then, I've spoken with library employees that say "That college degree never helped me deal with parents abandoning their wild kids, or unreasonable self-entitled patrons--the retail world gave me THAT knowledge!")

Also, be prepared to end up in a field outside your intended discipline. A great many of us had ambitions of running the state RR Museum or excursion line someday, but have ended up in different disciplines for a variety of "real-life" reasons. The guy currently running one of the largest RR museums in the nation came to the job from a Civil War Museum setting. People at jobs that some of us might consider "dream jobs" in rail preservation have moved on to state archives, national parks, branches of the Smithsonian, or rail operations on the other side of the country for a variety of reasons--job security, family/spousal situations, higher pay, or the realization that their past employer was never going to pay them enough to both pay off the college loans AND support that family he/she now has.

Maybe that's not what you're looking for? Maybe you aspire to be an engineer, or a track foreman, or a boilermaker or car repairman?
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, TAKE SHOP CLASSES. Even if your schools don't offer them. FIND THEM.
Some of my earliest restoration work stemmed off of metal shop forge and foundry projects I crossed over into "practical application" of my work (such as making hinges and nails for a house restoration), and the teachers were so glad that they had someone that wasn't just going through the motions but actually applying what he was learning.

Employers today are increasingly appalled at the inability of young people today to even use a screwdriver competently, let alone use machine tools, wire a house, replace a washer, change a tire, etc., LET ALONE have a competent work ethic, pass drug tests, etc. The Strasburg RR is not the only one by any means trolling vo-tech schools for competent machinists, mechanics, and craftsmen. The Strasburg is competing with other manufacturers, trucking companies, trades, and even other railroads for those people. And in the 21st century, you need expertise with CNC, 3-D planning/printing, computer diagnostics, math, etc. No simpletons need apply--they're the ones changing oil at Jiffy Lube for low wages.

I know a middle-aged guy who happens to work for a county transportation department. That job requires him to be flexible. Technically, he's a mechanic in fleet maintenance, but he can be running a grader for two days out in the field, driving tankers to a job site another, installing signs another, replacing truck tires the next week, running water pumps another day, and just the other week he and his shop mates had to drop everything to go drive water trucks to a wildfire. That versatility to be able to run and fix and do anything on demand gets him more pay than many college professors, plus enough vacation time that he can do what he wants--and his house is already paid for and his 401K fat because he lives an otherwise frugal lifestyle.

Working with your hands take intuition and experience. I'm currently restoring antique furniture using experience I learned both from middle/high school shop classes and railroad/trolley work. The big-box hardware stores and Harbor Freight Tools are full of things that shouldn't be sold to inexperienced people (Sawzall, anyone?). You get that experience with hands-on work and tutoring--the 75-year-old mentor that says "Why are you doing it this way? Here's a better/easier way....." and he shows you a new tool or technique you didn't know existed.

Now, if all you're trying to do is earn money over the summer, there MAY be "jobs" out there at SOME museums, but they will most likely only be low-end cashier or concession jobs, and the commute to the local McDonald's would be shorter. If you should get such a job, it will probably feel demeaning and insulting, but I can speak of a museum executive that got started as the cashier at the window.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:30 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:04 pm
Posts: 96
Location: San Jose, CA
As a full-time museum curator, I concur with all previous postings. Jobs in the preservation industry, not just railroad related, are few and typically low paid. Be flexible in location as starting in this career path may involve moving. My museum career path required a Master's Degree and a lot of unpaid volunteer time.

Stay in school, learn new skills, network with everyone.

Yes, I have a "dream job". At the same time, I have difficulty paying bills.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Dear Connor

Youth and distance are a challenge to you, but just keep trying. Some suggestions:

1) Get your drivers license as soon as you are able. Many employers require a drivers license for liability reasons.

2) Perhaps your parents will consider travel further away when you are 16 and have your license?

3) Look for work at an amusement park. It is not preservation, but a good training experience that will qualify you for positions with greater responsibility when you reach 18 years. They often hire youth 16-17 years old in positions with low risk.

4) Build skills. If your school offers technical classes and they fit your schedule, take them.

5) You might find work at, for example, a lawn mower repair shop. Again, it is not preservation, but a great skill builder for when you are able to travel to a museum job. It is also seasonal work that likely will fit your school schedule.

6) Smaller businesses will have more flexibility to bend the rules and work with you. Larger businesses will have firm rules, but if you fit their requirements, they will have a great structure that you can just sign up for.

7) Document the things you have done. Take pictures. Write descriptions.

It is all about finding a match, and that takes time and research at any age.

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Steven Harrod
Lektor
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
Institut for Systemer, Produktion, og Ledelse


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