Interview Week!

This week is interview week at the Conservation Center – the week that applicants get to see the premises, meet their potential future advisors, and run the gauntlet of the panel interview. As a second-year student, it’s really interesting to view the process from a relatively uninvested vantage point. Of course, I’m curious (read: DYING) to learn about my future colleagues at the center but at the same time, I have no part in the anxieties, hopes, and dreams that were so much a part of the process when I was applying myself.

Frankly, I admire every applicant who makes it to the interview. Making it this far involves sacrifices and hard work, and an almost insane passion for the preservation of cultural heritage. Getting this far is the culmination of years of preparation, and all prospective interviewees should be aware of this.

So this is a bit late, but here are my two cents for making it through the interview process:

  1. Be yourself. Remember, everyone on the panel has seen a million treatments presented in thousands of ways. They’ve done them themselves! The real thing that makes you stand out is not the treatment you present but who you are. They’re interested in your passion and your curiosity. They want to see how you communicate. So as hard as it is – be yourself! (Your best self!)
  2. Ask questions. The current students are there to be your resources. Curious about housing in New York? Wondering what kinds of analytical instrumentation we have on hand? Want to know about the curriculum but nervous about asking staff or faculty? Ask us!
  3. Plan for housing and transportation. This is more practical than anything else: keep in mind your portfolio when planning to come to your interview. This means that if your portfolio is bulky and difficult to carry and you’re staying in Brooklyn, PLEASE take a cab in to Manhattan! The amount of anxiety prevented will be worth the cost. In fact, perhaps plan to stay in Manhattan the night before your interview AND take a cab over. The day is stressful enough without worrying about subway breakdowns and late buses. This is why other programs generally offer housing with students; NYC housing being the way it is, this isn’t practical for most of us here.
  4. Talk to your peers. While it’s natural to be a bit absorbed in your own anxieties, it’s worth getting to know the other people who are interviewing. The way NYU interviews, people interested in the same specialization interview on the same day. If you’re interested in painting conservation, chances are that so are the others interviewing that day. This means that you are interviewing with (hopefully) your future colleagues. They may be accepted along with you, or at another program. I met at least one of my classmates and several of my colleagues at other programs during interviews!

Meanwhile, for applicants who don’t make it – don’t despair! This is a chance for you to do other things — things you won’t necessarily have time for once you’re in grad school. (My back-up plan had involved taking more art classes in ceramics and printmaking — things I have absolutely no time to pursue these days!) Be sure to contact the administration to find out how you can improve your application, and feel free to contact students as well! If you’re not sure how to, the administration can always put you in touch with a student in your specialty.

Late though this post is in the interview process, good luck! I’ll have my fingers crossed for you.

There really is light at the end of the tunnel!

There really is light at the end of the tunnel!


About Saira

Saira is a newly fledged book conservator currently working in Saint Paul, MN.
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