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Collection Manager's Assistant
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to gain more experience working with an archive.

How did you find your placement/internship?

I did my MA work placement course with the NFCA. I wanted to continue working there to gain more experience.

Application process

I worked at the NFCA previously during my MA work placement module. I knew they needed assistance processing some of their larger collections. I received word about the Ahead Scheme and instantly thought about the NFCA. I contacted the Collections Manager and we set up a job for me processing the Smart Family collection.

Main responsibilities

I organized and cataloged the various items and materials for the Smart Family collection. The Smart Family was a very prominent circus family in the UK. Their collection will be used for exhibitions for Circus 250, the 250th anniversary of the circus.

Typical day

At first, I started out organizing the material and items into the correct format used by the NFCA. After I finished that process, I input the formats into the spreadsheet table using the ISAD(G) archival standard. I worked my way through the various formats and described the items for the Smart Family collection.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I really enjoyed working with the historical materials. I love reading about history, but I also enjoy the actual historical documents and materials. I think it’s a great way for people to better connect to history. It was fun being able to work closely with historical documents and learn the process involved for preparing documents for research and viewing.

Challenging aspects

The most challenging aspect was handling the more delicate and fragile materials. Some of the paper material needed to be placed in large melinex sleeves for preservation. It was a challenge making sure they went into the sleeves without being torn or ripped.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

I learned a lot of valuable archival skills during my placement. I was able to practice basic preservation standards for historical documents and items. Also, I learned how to input data into the IASD(G), the general international standard archival description. I know many archival jobs require some sort of experience with ISAD(G), and I am glad to have gained some at the NFCA.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

Yes, it has. I have been interested in archival work for quite some time now. I’ve always found it fascinating being able to work with historical documents and historical items. Being placed at the NFCA gave me a glimpse into what working at an archive is like. I enjoyed it a lot and I look forward to hopefully landing an archival job where I can further develop my skills and abilities. This placement was a great first step in doing just that.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

Learn as much as you possibly can. Ask as many questions as you want or need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about something you don’t understand. It’s a learning experience and you want to get as much out of it as you can.

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Form completed: 09 Sep 2017

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