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Collections Assistant
About the placement/internship

Why did you decide to do a placement/internship?

I wanted to do a placement to further my experience in a museum collections environment. During my MA, I volunteered with Barnsley Museums and decided to do a placement with them as I love their collection and their aims to share that with the borough.

How did you find your placement/internship?

I volunteered with the service during my MA.

Application process

The application was easy, but thorough. It was up to me to find a placement, luckily I already had connections with them. I first approached the Collection Manager to see whether there was a project I could do to do during my 100 hour placement. Once that was decided, I filled in an online application form which asked a variety of questions such as what I wanted to achieve doing this placement, and what the project was.

Main responsibilities

During the placement my project was to write an evaluation of an exhibition on wedding dresses that took place over summer at Cannon Hall.
This included talking to the public, asking their opinions on the exhibition (such as what went well and what could go better). The other side of the evaluation was to compile and analyse visitor figures, shop income, and donations, all to see whether the exhibition met its aims

Typical day

No two days at Barnsley are the same! Due to funding cuts across the heritage sector, I was often involved in other aspects of collections work such as setting up exhibitions, accessioning new donations into the collection, writing up and gathering information for my report, and more standard office tasks such as filing and organising.

What did I enjoy about my placement/internship?

I loved working with the collections team as they truly valued my opinions and suggestions. I felt as though I was part of their team, and not just a work placement student. No two days were the same so it was often the case that I would go in to work and have no idea what I was going to be doing, which was exciting!
Above all, I feel that I have gained and developed some useful skills that will put me in good stead for future applications.

Challenging aspects

As I was often so busy with many different things, it was often a challenge to balance my workload. The main part of my project was to research and write up my report, yet there were days where I would not even look at it. However, I was able to find a balance and complete the report with plenty of time left for other work.

Did you use any skills learned from your course?

Another aspect of my placement was to help research for a future exhibition on women artists. Therefore the research skills developed during my MA came in useful.

Has your time on placement influenced your future career choice?

My experience has definitely influenced my career choice. I know that I definitely want to go into collection work. Following on from my success in my placement, I have recently taken up a full time position with the museum as a Visitor Services Assistant- which includes acting as tour guide and information point for visitors, but also includes the interpretation of the collections, and ability to develop the collection for easier access for visitors.

Advice to students

My piece of advice to students

It is important to get yourself out there. Introduce yourself to people you are working with. It is often true that when it comes to jobs that it is not what you know, it is who you know. They are there to help you.

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Form completed: 06 Dec 2017

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