Tereza is a fourth-year English and History BA student. She spent 10 months as an intern with the Museum of Brands.
Where was your placement and what were your tasks?
"My placement was at the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill, London. Originally, my placement was meant to be 9 months. However, since I was working from home for approximately 3 months due to Covid-19, I extended it to 10 months.
As an intern my tasks varied day to day. For the most part I was working at the front desk, where I was responsible for the shop, tickets, welcoming visitors, emails and phones, as well as fulfilling research, social media and proofreading tasks.
At the same time, there’d be days when I’d assist the curator with tasks in relation to the collection, the learning officer with workshops, or the museum manager with tasks in relation to finances."
How did you find out about your placement? What made you want to do one?
"My placement was optional, and I found out that it was a possibility via an email from my university department. The main reason why I decided to do an optional placement year was the opportunity to explore the sector I am interested in pursuing a career in, and face the reality of working in it. At the same time, I was aware of how it would increase my employability, especially since the cultural sector values work experience greatly.
In order to find the opportunity at the Museum of Brands, I had to go on job searching websites that specifically advertised roles in the Cultural and Art Sector (for example, ArtsJobs and University of Leicester Job Desk)."
What was the most enjoyable part of your placement?
"Accepting and working through new and different tasks that were originally out of my comfort zone. For example, tasks in relation to restocking or accounting, or tasks that related to the collection that I felt inexperienced for, ended up being the reason I gained the trust of my team and thus offered more responsibility."
What transferable skills did you gain?
"My placement allowed me to work on many useful and transferable skills. For example, due to Covid-19, there would only be one other staff member at the museum alongside me, and the team would rotate. Therefore, I had to transfer information and updates from one person to the next every day, thus greatly improving my communication skills.
At the same time, as I gained more responsibility, I was offered a paid role as Casual Duty Manager, which meant I had to supervise volunteers throughout the day, solve problems quickly and efficiently, whilst being the most senior member of staff in the museum. This was an amazing opportunity to work on my leadership and problem-solving skills."
Did you learn anything new or unexpected about yourself?
"Something I was very surprised by was how truly excited I was every day to go to work. I proved to myself that when I’m passionate about something, I do it with enthusiasm and a lot of hard work.
Specifically, being in academia all these years, I did not know how much I wanted to get involved with the Cultural and Arts sector since this placement year."
Have your future career aspirations changed because of your placement?
"The past year confirmed that I’d like to work in this sector, but changed what department within it I enjoy the most. I went into my placement thinking I’d want to work in museum learning, but I left knowing that exhibition design and visitor interaction is what I truly enjoy."
Any top tips?
"Placements, let alone paid opportunities, are hard to find in the cultural sector, but work experience is necessary to secure a job further down the line. I would advise students who are considering the sector to definitely search for placement roles and apply to as many as they can, as a placement year will offer opportunities and connections like no other."