For Berkeley art museum student employee Megan Reel, only more time on the floor could make the job better

Illustration of Megan Reel in front of BAMPFA
Olivia Staser/Staff

Related Posts

In the face of UC Berkeley’s recent outsourcing of employees and the subsequent campus outrage and protest, the campus’s work environment has become increasingly divisive. Nonetheless, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, continues to strive to ensure the satisfaction of its employees, including its many student workers.

“We have not experienced any recent increase in our use of outside contractors, which remains minimal relative to the work performed by our terrific staff of UC Berkeley employees and student workers,” said BAMPFA spokesperson A.J. Fox in an interview with The Daily Californian. “We don’t anticipate any change to this balance for the foreseeable future.”

If Megan Reel, a rising UC Berkeley senior and assistant in BAMPFA’s marketing department, is a representative example of the staff Fox mentioned, then his assessment is right on the nose. In an interview with the Daily Cal, Reel, a film major, described her satisfaction with her position and excitement for the fact that she can learn about art and develop her studies simply by being in the museum.

“All my work is surrounded by awesome artists,” Reel said. “And I’m learning and being educated about all this stuff as I’m working, which is really cool. To be heavily involved in that has really enriched (my education).”

In her communications work at BAMPFA, Reel has chances to use her creativity and love for the arts through social media outreach. The freedom to design posts makes the job fun and relevant for Reel — even though she does not plan to pursue communications after college.

“I get the opportunity to post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,” Reel said. “I really like coming up with different captions and what GIFs and emojis to put on the posts. I also have been given the opportunity to do some Instagram stories (using) Photoshop, and I really like doing that.”

As one of the younger employees in her office, Reel is the perfect person to handle social media. And despite her youth, she noted that other staff members treat her like a mature adult and allow her independence. At the same time, co-workers are also willing to assist her and provide creative recourse when she needs it.

“I was welcomed very warmly,” Reel said. “I’m not constantly being checked up on, but I do get the help I need when I need it. … When I’m struggling, there’s always somebody to help me out.”

Reel also voiced appreciation for the fact that her job interferes very little with her schedule as a UC Berkeley student. Although she works Monday through Friday, her shift is conveniently scheduled in the evening, between 3 and 5 p.m. The structure of her 10-hour workweek allows her to keep up with both work and her education, she said.

That’s not to say that Reel considers the two necessarily dichotomous; the lines between these spheres of her life are happily blurred. Sometimes, as she has learned, on-the-ground experience can prove even more educational than structured class time.

“(I’m) learning through experience and through witnessing different art and seeing it firsthand, being very hands-on with it,” Reed said. “That’s why this place is a little bit better than your average lecture, where you’re just listening and taking notes the entire time. I get to actually be with my subject.”

For Reel, the most relevant subject is film. Thankfully for her, the medium is a specialty at BAMPFA; a repertory movie theater and archive, the institution has been regularly screening films, both domestic and international, since the 1960s. Reel said that when she has the chance to watch them, she likes to analyze the films BAMPFA shows every week, making her work environment enriching and exciting.

“I get to see all the really interesting films that are showing at BAMPFA. … I really like being around all that,” Reel stated. “I find (film) really interesting as a tool to study people and, essentially, to study the cultures from which the film came from,” she explained.

Reel recognizes how unusual it is for college students to find jobs so directly related to their passions and studies. She voiced her gratitude for the opportunity to work with people with qualities that she aspires to have as she enters the corporate world.

“I really wanted to work here more than other places because I knew (it) was going to be an opportunity to enrich my education (that) pertains to my area of study more than any other campus job,” Reel said. “Everyone’s very nice, creative and really educated.

Usually, when someone is asked what they would change about their job, they readily list a multitude of features they are unhappy about. The only thing Reel wants more of in her job, however, is time at work — even though she understands that it is impractical for her schedule.

“I would like to work here more hours because I do like the work that I do,” Reel said. “And I know it would be challenging with school, but I wish there were more hours that came with this job. I would like to do a lot more with this.”

Contact Diana Piper at [email protected].