4 Jul 2017

The Collection Support Trainee Diaries:
Part 1

Hi everyone, I am Emma, the new (ish) Collections Support Trainee based at the Museum Collections Centre (MCC) and have been at the site for almost 6 months now. So, I guess it is about time I let you all in on who I am and what I do! 

I started my placement at the MCC at the end of January after getting onto a traineeship run by the independent arts and education charity, Culture&. The traineeship, Strengthening Our Common Life, is a Heritage Lottery funded project that aims to encourage diversity in the visitors and workforce of various heritage institutions with the help of a whopping 17 partners, one of which is Birmingham Museums Trust. There are 18 of us trainees based in various institutions doing various roles, but I was lucky enough to get my placement at the MCC for the next year and will also be getting a Level 3 QCF in Cultural Heritage as it is a work based accredited programme – wahoo!

Collections Support Trainee Emma working very hard at the Museum Collections Centre
Myself working very hard at the Museum Collections Centre.

So far, I have mentioned my traineeship quite a bit because, honestly, I feel as though it really is a blessing in terms of getting my foot into our rather competitive world’s door. I graduated Cardiff University with a degree in Archaeology and during my time there, although I had loved my excavations spent knee deep in mud and being attacked by horseflies, I enjoyed the placement I had done at the wonderful Pitt Rivers Museum even more. I decided that being indoors was really more my scene and went about voluntary placements at other institutions. However, when I graduated, to find I was still being offered voluntary positions, some full time even, and not very much work was a bit disheartening and also was not really an option for me. I did not have the luxury to not work full time unfortunately and so I got on with things, hoping to continue squeezing in experience in between working any other job and hoping something, would crop up. And so it did! With the added benefit of allowing me to still learn and earn another fancy education thingy to add to my CV while giving me one whole year’s worth of full-time, priceless, paid, industry experience.

It was not easy getting the traineeship. As I mentioned, everything in this field can be rather competitive and making yourself stand out can be tough. It also is not easy keeping up with working and learning full time, as well as fulfilling all the expectations I, more than anyone else, have of myself. But, it is worth it and beyond rewarding and even better, I love what Culture&, and the partner institutions too, are trying to achieve through this traineeship. Creating more opportunities, introducing new narratives and making heritage more accessible for all is more important than ever in the changing world we live in and I am thrilled to be part of that. So, for anyone considering a way of getting into the sector, a more feasible and fair way of doing it I think, then I would suggest traineeships, keep your eyes peeled and apply, apply, apply!

Most of the Strengthening Our Common Life (SOCL) trainees
Some of the Strengthening Our Common Life (SOCL) trainees.

Anyway, getting back to what I’ve actually been doing, well, I have managed to fill in my Linkedin skills section a staggering amount since starting (*smug face*) due to all the fantastic tasks I have had the chance to do so far. I have been helping with general collections care and management jobs at the MCC, like putting away some truly fantastic objects and learning all the skills I need to be as great as the rest of the team at making sure everything is ok and accounted for.

One of the many fantastic objects Emma has been unpacking at the MCC
An Ear Plug. One of the many fantastic objects I’ve been unpacking at the Museum Collections Centre.

I have also managed to worm my way into helping the Birmingham Manufactures team quite a bit with anything they might find me useful for and I have helped with more tours in the past few months than I have during all my previous experience. Along with a lot more exciting stuff I have coming up, I will be starting my own project to introduce a new audience to the MCC hopefully via the most amazing, ingenious, creative, but totally appropriate, event ever! So watch this space, at least I have another (doesn’t actually seem that long now) 6 months to continue making the most of this experience.