Superhuman at the Wellcome Collection. Credit:Wellcome Library, London

Careers webchat

24.09.2013
Your career questions answered
Whether you're struggling to get your first job in museums or need some tips on how to move up the career ladder, our panel of experts have offered their advice to your career questions.

Following our webchat on 24 September you can now read all the questions and answers in the comment boxes below.

The panel included: Maurice Davies and Charlotte Holmes from the Museums Association; Richard Sandell, head of museum studies at the University of Leicester; Heather Millard, social history curator at Bradford Museums and Galleries, AMA; Nicola Hayes, a graduate and volunteer looking to move into the heritage sector; and Iain Watson, director of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

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Michael Adams
MA Member
Watchkeeper, Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum
01.10.2013, 01:09
Hi I have recently become a member of the Museum Association. I have been wanting to seek advice about career progression in the museum and art gallery field within the UK. About getting your foot in the door (entry level). I am a British citizen currently residing in Australia. Since Jan this year I have been seeking permanent employment within a museum/ art gallery in the UK and so far I have applied for 22 positions. I was living in the UK from Jan to the end of March this year. Currently I have been doing volunteer work at the Ballina Naval & Maritime Museum (since Jan 2012). I have a Bachelor degree (of Arts - Art). I am a painter/ multi-medium artist. I have been currently studying units in a Information, Digital Media and Technology (Multimedia) distance/ online course. I am aware that in the UK it is very difficult to get a job within the museum/ arts sector, career progression is very hard, it is highly competitive and so-on, and with the economy the way it is at the moment. However I have always been a fighter and I never give up. I have been working with a career counselor whom previously lived and worked in the UK and we thought how important and necessary it is to network and interact with people/ museum professionals/ associations within the industry..in the UK and so any advice would be welcome. I did also want to enquire if anyone would know how one could possibly become a virtual volunteer with a UK Museum/ art gallery? I thought that if I can get something like that along the way...the journey...it would be good to have...combined with everything that Im doing at the present time. Thank you
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
01.10.2013, 10:09
Hi Michael -

I'm afraid the Q&A is closed, but please email your query to my colleague Charlotte Holmes: charlotte@museumsassociation.org - she looks after professional development here at the MA and may be able to give you some advice.

Best,
Patrick
Anonymous
MA Member
08.05.2013, 10:43
I would like to direct my career towards gallery education, I currently work as a visitor assistant. does anyone have any advise of what I should do to improve my chances in this area. ??
any advice would be great
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
01.10.2013, 10:09
Hi Anonymous -

I'm afraid the Q&A is closed, but please email your query to my colleague Charlotte Holmes: charlotte@museumsassociation.org - she looks after professional development here at the MA and may be able to give you some advice.

Best,
Patrick
Nuala McCarthy
MA Member
Bursary placement, Mount Stewart House
02.03.2013, 20:12
I would like to work in a position which combines both curatorial and conservation aspects. Are there courses or internships available which combine both these areas ?
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
04.03.2013, 12:45
Hi Nuala -

I'm afraid the Q&A is closed, but please email your query to my colleague Charlotte Holmes: charlotte@museumsassociation.org - she looks after professional development here at the MA and may be able to give you some advice.

Best,
Patrick
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 14:06
I'm afraid the 2pm gun has gone so we're going to have to wrap it up there.

Thanks very much indeed to our expert panel for giving us so much of their time and wisdom, and to everyone who contributed to the discussion.

We will be summarising the main points here, so check the homepage later today for that.
Anonymous
24.09.2012, 14:04
I am a natural science graduate with several years experience of volunteering and working in museums, but only in documentation-related roles. I'm also currently in the middle of a distance-learning Museum Studies MA in an attempt to improve my employability. But I'm now in the awkward position of being over-qualified for traineeships, but underqualified for the natural history curatorial/collections roles that I want, as there seem to be very few junior posts available. I keep reading about there being 'skills shortages' in natural sciences, but as a frustrated natural historian who cannot find a suitable post, I see the current situation as a job shortage. Any comments/advice?
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 15:23
Hi - you can make good use of the MA to broaden out your knowledge and skills (beyond documentation) and I know many others in similar situations who have used part time training to do just this and to successfully enhance their employability (see Hannah's very thoughtful reflections, posted at 12.44 below). If you see positions now that ask for a PG qualification you can still apply - even though it is not yet completed / awarded. Again, I know several students who have done this and used it to show their commitment to developing their skills and experience.

Good luck - very best - Richard

Anonymous
24.09.2012, 18:58
Thanks, Richard. I have been applying for posts requiring postgrad degrees for the last year or so (I have an MSc in Palaeobiology already, so my Museum Studies MA will be my second postgrad!). I have been regularly getting interviews, which is encouraging, but I seem to be consistently coming second - I am getting used to being told 'sorry, there was someone with more experience'. Which is very frustrating, as I have limited opportunities to gain the experience I need - I have been working short-term contracts on projects for the last few years, and there seems to be a reluctance to provide training for short-term staff extending beyond the skills necessary for the immediate work of the project...which I can understand, as it benefits me but not necessarily the museum, but it does leave me rather frustrated at not being able to gain the extra skills I need to move up to a higher-level post.
But I can't go and volunteer somewhere else as well to gain more experience - with a full-time job and a distance-learning degree to finish, my time is pretty well taken up already!

Sorry, this has turned into more of a rant than a question! But despite several years working hard to gain a variety of skills, knowledge and experience, I am finding it hard to move beyond entry-level posts. Moving up in the sector has, I think, become incredibly difficult, as a lot of the mid-level posts have disappeared. I've been applying for senior jobs that I am very underqualified for, because they're all that's available!
Philip Hadland
MA Member
Assistant Collections Manager, Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries Serv
28.09.2012, 13:28
Being a Palaeo MSc graduate myself and having managed to find a job after that with only volunteer experience and no museums MA your museums MA along with your paid experience should put you in a very good position for jobs in the future.

You are certainly right many mid-level posts are dissappearing as the old model of a curator and an assistant curator is no longer the norm.

Also given the multitude of additional duties that many curators now take on in addition to collections managment (eg managing volunteers, income generation, education etc) are there activities that could you do (or already do) outside of the world of museums that would furnish you with that extra experience.

Good luck
Anonymous
24.09.2012, 18:57
Thanks, Richard. I have been applying for posts requiring postgrad degrees for the last year or so (I have an MSc in Palaeobiology already, so my Museum Studies MA will be my second postgrad!). I have been regularly getting interviews, which is encouraging, but I seem to be consistently coming second - I am getting used to being told 'sorry, there was someone with more experience'. Which is very frustrating, as I have limited opportunities to gain the experience I need - I have been working short-term contracts on projects for the last few years, and there seems to be a reluctance to provide training for short-term staff extending beyond the skills necessary for the immediate work of the project...which I can understand, as it benefits me but not necessarily the museum, but it does leave me rather frustrated at not being able to gain the extra skills I need to move up to a higher-level post.
But I can't go and volunteer somewhere else as well to gain more experience - with a full-time job and a distance-learning degree to finish, my time is pretty well taken up already!

Sorry, this has turned into more of a rant than a question! But despite several years working hard to gain a variety of skills, knowledge and experience, I am finding it hard to move beyond entry-level posts. Moving up in the sector has, I think, become incredibly difficult, as a lot of the mid-level posts have disappeared. I've been applying for senior jobs that I am very underqualified for, because they're all that's available!
Jonathan Shimmin
MA Member
Collections Assistant, Cynon Valley Museum
24.09.2012, 13:52
Hi,

Reading through the questions and answers submitted I get that there is a general feeling that there are qualified people unable to get jobs in the sector. Personally I have had this trouble, it took me a while after my masters to find a job (I know people who finished in 2009 and are still unable to get into the sector even with extra volunteering), and now I am having difficulty moving up the career ladder.

Does the panel think that the sector is flooded with graduates every year, that the universities should cut back their numbers? Sometimes they feel like factories rather than training the future sector leaders. Also is the Museums Association a lobbying group? Is there a way they can help pressure the relevant organisations or political departments (both local and national) to help stimulate the growth of the jobs in the sector. As the budget cuts took effect many local councils cut museum and heritage services first, is there a place for direct advocacy from the MA?
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 14:03
Hi Like many areas of culture, arts and media, a great many people would like to work in museums and a great many people have relevant qualifications and relevant voluntary experience. Getting jobs and then progressing is highly competitive. And, like so many parts of the economy, employment in museums is shrinking, so it's unlikely to be getting any better soon. At the MA we always warn people about how difficult it can be to get a job, how hard career progression can be - and how poor salaries can be for many people. We do lobby on some of these issues - but it's tough and no one should embark on a museum career (or one in arts' cultura, media...) without recognising that. On the bright side, it's less competitive that being an actior or a painter!
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 14:01
Hi Jonathan

Things are undoubtedly very challenging at present - not only in the museum sector but in many different areas of work. Having said that, museums have never been easy to get into - I had very similar experiences to many of those being voiced here.

Employability is becoming an even bigger issue of course and there are opportunities for Universities to use this trend in the HE sector to achieve their own ends. Certainly, we are using this to secure funding and support to further develop ways of helping both current students and past graduates. I'm off to a meeting about that next.

I'll let other panellists comment on the question of advocacy but the MA has been doing a huge amount in this area and the Museum 2020 initiative (amongst others) are well worth looking at.

All best - Richard
Mikaela Webb
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:32
Hi
I've been wondering as a general question, what is REALLY more valuable, good quality voluntary experience or an MA?
I've spent 2 years volunteering on a major exhibition project and have studied 1 year of a part time MA course in Public Archaeology which I'm now taking time out from (to pay bills etc). I know its ideal to have both, but if that's not possible, which is preferred by most employers?
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 13:47
Hi Mikaela ... I think you are right about the importance of both.

But they give different (and, as Maurice says, complementary things). Neither work experience nor an MA will guarantee someone gets a job. The MA should help an individual to develop the skills and capabilities to be a highly effective, problem solving and creative practitioner -- to have the ability to make museums better and help organisations to achieve their objectives. Voluntary work should help an individual to develop generic and sector-specific experience in the workplace. Both should help with networks and knowledge and awareness of the issues currently facing museums.

The people that are best placed to answer your query - I think - are the staff who you are working on the exhibition with. I always suggest to people who ask this to talk with a range of people working in the sector. Very best - Richard
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:37
Dear Mikaela - a few years ago I looked at this and then it seemed clear that work experience was the thing most employers valued more than anything else. But MAs can help too - and an MA can help with career progression. So, you're likely to need both - but if it was one or the other, I'd give good quality voluntary experience a go first as you might be lucky. And if you then go on to do an MA the practical experience you gain as a volunteer will inform your MA.
Nicholas Sturgess
MA Member
Alex Henshaw Curator, RAF Museum Cosford
24.09.2012, 13:30
Other than reading books and watching people what is the best way to learn management skills to progress into the management of museums?

Part of my AMA is to learn management skills, if it is possible to do so, and I'd be interested to see what everyone else says.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:50
Hi Nicholas,

I think all the advice below is excellent, when you get onto the next phase of your AMA, your mentor can help you develop a strategy to put this into action.

I agree with others that its crucial to identify an opportunity to manage something. This doesn’t have to be at an official level, but think about how you can use work based opportunities to apply any management techniques you have read about or witnessed. Please also consider thie different skills needed to manage people, projects and budgets.
Iain Watson
MA Member
Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
24.09.2012, 13:43
Hi alex

A really difficult question. Cleary there are formal (non-museum specific) management qualifications (eg DMS or MBA) , and that is one route, but I think these become more useful when you have some experience. Initially I think that treating pieces of work as projects and developing sound project management skills is a good start -although you probably don't need to go through the formal PRINCE2 practitioner qualification there are some good resources online around this. The other really important thing is to watch others manage - look for what you think is good management and how you could use the techniques - that has been very important for me
Hannah Crowdy
MA Member
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
24.09.2012, 13:40
Hi Nicola, I'd say definitely talk to people who are in management roles and find out how and why they got there. You'll find out that are so many different routes to management and you'll undoubtedly get some good advice.

Something I also found useful was a mentoring scheme with Business in the Arts (this was in north west England, though I guess there are similar opportunities elsewhere). They paired me with a mentor from the private sector and it was really interesting and refreshing to get his take on management issues within museums.

Finally, manage some projects (I'm sure you are already anyway). Project management on a small scale is not so different from management on a grander scale - you'll still have to manage people, budgets, timescales etc., and will inevitably learn as much through getting things wrong as you do from getting them right - I say that from experience!
Hannah Crowdy
MA Member
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
24.09.2012, 13:41
Apologies, I meant Nicholas!!
Nicholas Sturgess
MA Member
Alex Henshaw Curator, RAF Museum Cosford
24.09.2012, 14:08
Don't worry about it
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:39
Grab every chance you can to manage something. See if your boss/colleagues will let you have responsibility for an area or a project. But if you really can't get management experience at work, get it elsewere - in a local voluntary group, sports club, the school PTA...
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 13:38
Hi Nicholas - interesting question!

I think there are lots of ways to gain management experience - without being a manager first. Good management skills should encompass team working, an ability to motivate and persuade others, leadership (for example on projects or initiatives), developing ways to get the best out of colleagues and volunteers - as well as managing upwards of course. These are things that most of us do in our jobs.

Management books or short management courses can help give you the tools to reflect on your own experience - and some tools and ideas for changing how you do things in ways that improve your effectiveness. A mentor with experience and interest in management issues is hugely helpful for enabling you to develop and hone those skills.

Richard
Iain Watson
MA Member
Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
24.09.2012, 13:15
Having just joined the dicussion I may be crossing threads - if so, sorry! In response to Gina, I would suggest that sometimes it can pay to 'be cheeky' - ask musuems in the area if they are doing any staff training events that you could join in on for free -they might say no, but it's worth a go
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:19
Hi Iain - you can avoid thread-crossing by replying to specific posts by hitting 'reply' in orange beneath them.
Rachel Sayers
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:13
This is directed at Iain Watson. I am interested in the TWAM virtual volunteering, what will this involve? Will it cover archives and exhibitions?
Iain Watson
MA Member
Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
24.09.2012, 13:21
Hi Rachel - if you get in touch via our website we can send more info about possible opprtunities - http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering.html
It is unlikely to involve hands-on work with original items but could include projects such as transcribing or collecting information for a particular project relating to either our museums or archives.
Iain Watson
MA Member
Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
24.09.2012, 13:11
In response to Nicola, at TWAM we are actively working to develop 'virtual volunteering' where people don't have to be in the same place (or even same time zone!) as the musuem or archive they are volunteering for. This is now being offered for general interest/development but I'm sure it could also be seen as a career development opportunity.
Nicola Hayes
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:17
this sounds great. I think more places should do this. Online forms (like this very one) are all great places to share stories or volunteeing experiences, opportunities and perhaps every now and then success stories of how people got into a job that they recently gained. Having an online community of volunteers would not only benefits the museums from an organisational stance, but boosts the morale of those struggling to get that job, or even, that voluntary role.
Practically a picking ground for employees.....
Nicola Hayes
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:17
that should say online forums.....
Nicola Hayes
MA Member
24.09.2012, 12:56
I also have a question concerning Heritage and the media. While many cannot commit too much to volunteering physically with full time jobs to pay the bills, online media, PR, marketing and social media sites are all things that can be done on the move, in and around work. I wonder what people's views are on this. Googling online media in heritage brings up the first three hits as BOOKS on the matter. Which I think may say something about what we're dealing with....
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:06
Good point, as well as writing blogs and articles etc. museums are beginning to engage more people in remote volunteering. This could be a good way of fitting in volunteer work around a 9 – 5.
Anonymous
MA Member
24.09.2012, 12:56
I graduated with distinction in MA Museum Studies at the end of 2010. I volunteered in a small museum for 9 months before getting an unrelated job to pay bills. Working in the museum/heritage sector is my absolute passion and I am worried that the longer time goes on where I am not using my degree, the less likely I am to find a job in the future.

I apply for related jobs when one becomes available but am limited location-wise as to where I can get to. Do you have any suggestions? I know that I would be really successful working in a museum and don't want to waste my life being an administrator.

Many thanks, C.
Vanessa Trevelyan
MA Member
Director, Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
24.09.2012, 13:10
In the Norfolk Museums Service we employ quite large numbers of Front-of-House staff, many of whom are seasonal. This is used by many graduates as a way of getting some useful museum experience. It also puts them on the spot when other jobs come up. Indeed, the Visitor Services Manager often jokes that her team is just used for head hunting within the service.
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:21
I think Vanessa makes a good point - quite often there's an element of 'being in the right place at the right time' when it comes to getting that elusive first job, or that new short-term contract, so working front of house in a larger museum (or perhaps in two or three larger museums) increases your chances on that score.
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 13:09
Hi C

Sorry to hear that things have been so frustrating for you. Being limited in terms of location can be difficult I know - it has been an extra challenge for people looking to get into the sector for as long as I can remember.

To help your chances, there are things you can do to stay connected with the sector and to further develop your experience and networks (other than full time volunteering). Charlotte's advice (to Gina, below) is relevant here and I would also suggest you think about ways of maintaining your links with the sector through voluntary work that need not occupy large amounts of time (it could be project based and flexible) but which enables you to demonstrate to potential employers your ongoing interest and commitment. Very best of luck - Richard
Nicola Hayes
MA Member
24.09.2012, 12:46
Hi all. I would like to say something regarding Anonymous at 12.28. The 'transferable skills' that so many university/ career advisors talked about when I first entered university need to be gained somehow.

I think I am in a position similar to that of Anonymous (commented 17th sept 15.24) and have now begun to look at working outside of the heritage community in order to develop and 'find myself'.

After 30 job applications that got no interviews or indeed, replies, I decided to take a step back from the job applications. They tend to suck you in to big demoralising hole.

I am currently working for a production company in an admin capacity hoping that this might give me the 3-4 years experience most jobs are looking for, whilst volunteering at weekends and when I can for The Churches Conservation Trust.

Having a Masters in Art HIstory has not helped me other than show my interest in my chosen subject for voluntary role interviews. This probably isn't advice but I hope that other people in this situation know they aren't the only ones!
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:55
Hi Nicola -

Hope you don't mind my asking, but did you ask for feedback from any of the organisations that you applied to? If so, what was their response?
Nicola Hayes
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:01
Hi patrick

no worries. I have asked for feedback on several occasions, though I do admit to letting this wain slightly in the last batch of applications.
Those bigger organisations are very much standard replies that are sent out. They are quite helpful in that they give advice on writing out CVs, making sure that you give experiences relevant to the role etc. I have acted on all this but I sometimes would prefer a more personalised 'report'.
Smaller organisations tend to give financial troubles as a reason for not taking me on which is fair enough. They do then send me updates of newsletters etc
But the main problem seems to be experience. There always seems to be someone who's done a role similar to the one we're applying for before!
24.09.2012, 12:30
What advice/resources would you recommend to someone who wishes to develop specialized skills, but is having trouble paying for travel/courses in order to develop those skills?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:45
Hi Gina, I would advise you to use a network either subject or practice based to develop expertise. Courses are useful and lots or regions have skills sharing networks which offer cost effective training courses, however if you want to develop expertise, why not look for opportunities to shadow colleagues, and/or undertake research (could just be reflecting on/writing up an area of practice) that will add to current debate.
24.09.2012, 13:01
Hi Charlotte! Thanks for the reply.

I already volunteer at the Manchester Museum with research and collections based projects, it's specialized practical skills I need to develop. For example, there is a 4 day course in December that would really plug a gap in my CV, but it costs quite a bit. I'm wondering if there are any funding resources for people who are training but unemployed.
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:44
Hi Gina

Are there any opportunties to develop those skills by offering to work on specific projects - either in the Manchester Museum or in other local museums and galleries? - Richard
24.09.2012, 13:02
Thanks for the reply Richard!

As I mentioned above to Charlotte, I already volunteer at the Manchester Museum with research and collections based projects, it's specialized practical skills I need to develop. For example, there is a 4 day course in December that would really plug a gap in my CV, but it costs quite a bit. I'm wondering if there are any funding resources for people who are training in museums but unemployed.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:24
Hi Gina,
As a prospective AMA you could apply for the Trevor Walden bursary, www.museumsassociation.org/funding/trevor-walden-trust unfortunately you have just missed the September deadline, but do keep this mind in the future. I would also discuss this issue with your AMA mentor, as I know they have a lot of experience in knowledge transfer and skills development.
24.09.2012, 13:40
Thank you! Will apply for the next round.
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 13:23
Hi Gina

I'm not aware of funding opportunties for these kinds of short courses I'm afraid.

It's great to be aware of your 'skills gaps' and to be so proactive to look for ways of addressing them ... well done - but I would suggest you shouldn't be overly concerned with plugging every 'gap' through things like courses. It depends on the kinds of skills that you are looking to address of course but my worry is that some applicants feel they have to have bags of experience and a certificate in every single area before they can reasonably apply for a job that asks for certain things.

For example, a recent graduate came to talk to me about a job they wanted to apply for - he felt he had everything they were looking for except 'Project Management Skills' and was therefore inclined not to apply. I advised him to reflect on some of the experience he had had on the course and in his experience to date and it quickly became clear that he could confidently claim a good awareness of project management skills and experience in team working, scheduling tasks, working within budget etc that enabled him to fully address that in his application. And it worked!

I hope I'm making my point here but do come back to me if not - very best - Richard
24.09.2012, 13:42
You are making sense, and thank you!

I do agree with you that transferable skills are incredibly important. I guess I'm just focusing on very specialized things as there are no very many jobs out there, and I've seen a few that have asked specifically for these skills!
Anonymous
MA Member
24.09.2012, 12:28
I recently finished a curatorial traineeship.. I've been volunteering since then and trying to find part time non-museum work to survive. My question is would getting a full time job in a non-museum field and giving up the volunteering be detrimental? My field as a curator is very specialized, and volunteering gives me extra opportunities to develop my skills, but in these economic times it's rather difficult to pay the bills!
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:40
Hi. You rightly identify the value of your volunteering and the opportunities it gives you to broaden out your skills and experience and, importantly, to stay connected with the sector.

At the same time - as you say - times are hard and you can't volunteer forever. Is there a way to do both? ... without putting youself under undue strain!

When I found myself in a similar position many years ago, I stopped volunteering full time (in order earn some cash) but kept a more flexible volunteering arrangement with the heritage body I was with.

This was project based (developing some interpretive resources for schools and family visitors) and I did most of the work in my own time, working flexibly. It meant that I could show my link to the heritage body on my cv, extend my experience, deliver something tangible that showcased my efforts ...etc.

The other thing to remember is that you will develop other transferable skills in your paid (non-museum) job that shouldn't be ignored when making applications for curator postions. Good luck - Richard
Vanessa Trevelyan
MA Member
Director, Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
24.09.2012, 12:36
As an employer I have no problem with applicants who have experience in non-museum fields. In fact, one of my sparkier member of staff, now director of a major regional museums service, spent some time as a manager in a MacDonalds. Museums are about public service as well as subject specialisms and any experience that hones those customer care skills and demonstrates that you can deliver them is a definite bonus.
Hannah Crowdy
MA Member
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
24.09.2012, 12:27
Hi Rachel, I'm the MA rep for Northern Ireland. I'm actually English and I was surprised when I moved over here how volunteering is not as well established as it would be in other parts of the country. I'm pleased to say that it is starting to change though, certainly at National Museums Northern Ireland we're looking to develop our volunteering programme. However, there will always be the problem that there are relatively few museums in NI, and therefore relatively few museum work opportunities (both voluntary and paid).

You're probably aware that we, in partnership with NIMC, have recently recruited for the second round of Collections Skills Initiative placements. Most people who applied had a relevant MA so what made the successful candidates stand out was the breadth and depth of their voluntary experience. Now for the advice....not all of this voluntary work was in museums but it was in what we would see as other 'relevant' organisations e.g., private art galleries, the National Trust, conservation groups. Voluntary work shows us that people are committed, interested and enthusiastic, and it also shows us that you have been delevoping relevant skills such as carrying out research, working as part of a team and interpreting information for the public. Such skills aren't unique to museums so there are other ways to gain them.

One very current opportunity in Northern Ireland is the major National Trust project at Mount Stewart, for which they are actively recruiting volunteers. Please contact me directly if you'd like more details.
Rachel Sayers
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:09
Hi Hannah, thanks for getting back to me. Funnily enough I am actually a Conservation Volunteer at Mount Stewart, I only started last week! Thank you so much for your advice it has really helped me. I have a large range of experience covering historical and artistic museums/galleries etc. I am glad that the volunteering opportunities in N. Ireland are beginning to change as I can't afford to go to the Republic of Ireland or England just for a week here and there volunteering. I am also interested in training opportunities that the NIMC and National Museums Northern Ireland are running in the near future, are these purely for people who work in museums full time or are they open for volunteers also?Or are there any plans to run free or subsidised courses for students/ out of work museum professionals? I am currently unable to attend these courses as I cannot afford the non-members fee for the proposed courses.
Hannah Crowdy
MA Member
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
24.09.2012, 13:33
That's great about Mount Stewart! You'll find that will stand you in good stead. I actually started my career by volunteering for the the National Trust (with Fiona who now works at Mount Stewart, funnily enough!) and I learnt so much that I still use today, particularly about preventive conservation and object handling.

NMNI is not a training provider so any training we offer we tend to do so through NIMC. As far as I know all their courses are open to volunteers but I don't know of any plans to run free or subsidised courses. It's a question I'd be happy to put to them though.

I think one of the main problems in NI is that the MA, SSNs and other relevant groups e.g., GEM (Group for Education in Museums), SHCG (Social History Curators Group), rarely, if ever, run courses over here. It's why I try to always keep a small pot of money for travel in my budget, as I have no choice but to fly over to England, Scotland or Wales if I am to keep up to date with best practice in the sector. You're probably aware that the MA were supposed to be running free workshops over here today and tomorrow but sadly they were cancelled due to low take-up. This was such a shame and evidence of the vicious circle, people don't join the MA because they don't feel it's relevant to them in NI but when it does try and prove it is interested in and relevant to NI it gets a lukewarm reception. Again it's that closed attitude that really needs to change.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:26
Question for both the panel and participants: is the sector losing valuable people by asking too much of them in terms of qualifications, work experience, and then, if and when they get the job, low pay? If so, what can be done about it?
Anonymous
MA Member
24.09.2012, 13:17
Hi, I’ve been working in museums for about 5 years now. I have a BA and an MA and am doing my AMA. Like many others I also did a great deal of voluntary work before getting my first job and actively seek new training when I can. Unfortunately with each successive job my salary is decreasing, while my level of experience and responsibility increases. Its great that there are so many committed people in the sector doing the job because they love it, but the salaries are a real problem; we cant expect our families and partners to carry us forever. I can’t help but wonder, whether in any other sector, I would have been able to move up the professional ladder by now.
Anonymous
MA Member
24.09.2012, 12:30
I think the sector is loosing valuable younger people who have an interest in museums but might not be able to afford to do a Masters in Museum Studies for example or cannot attend training days around the country due to the expense. I think there should be easier entry jobs for younger people like whom I mentioned above as in lower qualifications and experience rate but by getting the job they get experience and are able to move on to other better jobs and leave their jobs for people who were like them. I have found that in America a lot of the State Museums run 'YEMP' Young and Emerging Museum Professional courses, seminars etc to encourage their young people into jobs in the Museums/ Heritage sector. Perhaps this is something to be considered for young people in this country?
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:52

Hi, There are a few schemes such as the Skills for the Future programme (HLF), and apprenticeships. At the MA we no longer ask for specific qualifications to undertake our development programmes. But entry to the sector continues to be a problem.
Rachel Sayers
MA Member
24.09.2012, 12:06
Hello, I am a Northern Irish member of the MA so my question is directed at Carolyn Dalton the Northern Irish MA representative. I have over five years experience with paid and voluntary jobs within museums here in N. Ireland and in England.

I am undertaking a MA Heritage Management in Bath next year but I am taking a year out to gain more experience. From my own personal experience it is very hard to gain actual training in exhibitions, curatorial work, archives etc as a lot of N. Irish institutions either dont get back to me or are reluctant to take on volunteers. Do you have any advice for me in this area?

Any ideas of whom I might approach to gain actual training in curatorial work etc?

I have a couple of more questions to ask, but this is one that I would like addressed first. Thanks, Rachel.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:30
Hi Rachel. Hannah Crowdy is actually the MA's Northern Ireland rep - she has answered your question above.
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:00
Hello everyone, and thank you for taking part in our first online Q&A about careers.

We've got a fantastic panel here to answer your questions - if there is someone that you would like to ask a specific question to then please say so in your question.

Maurice Davies and Iain Watson will be joining us after 1, but Hannah Crowdy, the MA's Northern Ireland representative, and Carolyn Dalton, the MA's Yorkshire representative will be taking part.

Looking forward to an interesting discussion!
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 11:15
Question from Peter Meloni on LinkedIn:

I am trying to break into the museum field.

I have done an internship that ended last August 2011 and since that time I have still volunteering to keep my skills and experience sharp.

My biggest problem is that I do not have a BA in History. I have a BA in Communication though, and have most of the credits for a History degree. I am missing 8 credits, two classes, a 200 level and a 300 level class that was added to the degree requirements after I graduated with my Communications degree. How do I make the break into the museum field without a degree?

I also lost my job in 2009 and was using the time to get my degree but fell short of funds. How can I show this on my resume but still show that I have experience in the field.

My skills are in exhibit curator, Archivist, have designed, cataloged and shelved all archival materials in the museum.

I have collections skills and designed an archival and collections database. How do I show all this experience and strengthen my resume to finally get hired?
Rachel Cockett
MA Member
Partnerships & Performance Manager, Birmingham Museums Trust
24.09.2012, 12:38
Hi Peter,

Just backing up Richard's comment. The experience (and how well it is articulated) is more important than the degree.

A common mistake candidates make in application forms is not giving clear examples of their experience and the tasks they have performed.

So eg in designing your database what tasks did you undertake? For instance: research the collections to be catalogued, speak to the people who would use the database etc This helps the person shortlisting understand exactly what you did.

Good luck,
Rachel

Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:14
Hi Peter

I’m not sure the lack of a BA in History is critical here? Over the past 10 years we have seen a diversification in the kinds of degree qualifications people working in museums have (this is certainly evidenced in the kinds of displine based backgrounds we see amongst our applicants).

Alongside those with degrees in history, archaeology, art history and so on are others with wide ranging qualifications (including Communications, Marketing, Sociology, Business Studies and so on) and I know many have done very well from this position.

You appear to have good practical experience too – have a think about how you present this (honestly but coherently) in your applications. You don’t need to detail everything you have done and haven’t done – instead present your experience in a way that ties to the needs of the employer and shows how you meet the things they are looking for.

I hope this is of some help – very best – Richard
Vanessa Trevelyan
MA Member
Director, Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
24.09.2012, 12:30
I think Peter Meloni's range of skills sounds very desirable. Good communication is essential for museums and this si a skill that employers would definitely be looking for.
Rachel Cockett
MA Member
Partnerships & Performance Manager, Birmingham Museums Trust
24.09.2012, 10:15
Below are issues I've seen affect several friends and colleagues.

1. How does an unemployed museum professional with several years experience position themselves to get into a job? Is the advice different than for a person who is new to the profession?

2. I know people who are applying for far more junior jobs than their previous roles. What do the panel think are the pitfalls? Both in application process and if offered the job.

3. It is difficult for experienced professionals to obtain appropriate voluntary work (eg challenging and developmental). What should an unemployed but experienced museum professional do to maintain their CV and enhance their chances of re-employment?
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:44
Hi Rachel -

What are your views on these questions?
Rachel Cockett
MA Member
Partnerships & Performance Manager, Birmingham Museums Trust
24.09.2012, 13:56
Hi Patrick,

My views are:

1. I suspect the advice is should be similar for new or more experienced professionals.
I know a couple of experienced professionals who have started going down the scattergun approach in desperation. It doesn't help their state-of-mind or improve their likelihood of success.
However the dole office expects quantity over quality as evidence of job applications. Emotionally and professionally destructive.

2. Richard's answer was good on this for the application process. There is a further issue. Once in employment someone who is used to eg a managerial role, can find it difficult to adapt to a more junior role with less self-determination than previously.

3. Agree with suggestions so far if possible for people (keeping in touch with Feds, good voluntary/pro-bono work) - but again the dole office needs to be considered. And someone on £60 per/week can't afford Fed membership or events.

Regards,
Rachel
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:24
Hi Rachel

In relation to (2) - I guess one obvious pitfall in the application process is the perception that someone is over qualified and over experienced for the position.

I was involved recently in recruiting for a position here at the University (not in Museum Studies but a different department) where this came up when we were shortlisting. However, the applicant did really well to address the panel's concerns by clearly setting out their interest in the post and showing why they were applying.

This left us with a clear and wholly positive impression of an individual who wasn't simply 'settling' for something at a lower level but, in contrast, was someone who could see the exciting opportunities the post offered, had researched the organisation and could concisely and convincingly show how their considerable experience could be brought to bear.

They were clearly excited in the post too and this worked really well to allay any fears that they would not be committed. Very best for now - Richard
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 14:01
I think this raises an interesting point, I don’t think museum professionals can see their career progressing in a linear fashion. We will be working for longer, and traditional roles and specialism are disappearing. I think it’s quite likely that more professionals will either choose to, or be forced to, undertake a period of consultancy and/or less senior (but perhaps more interesting) roles at various stages of their career
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:01
Hi Rachel,

3) Experienced, unemployed and looking to get a job back in the sector - I would be interested to hear what employers have to say on this front, I often advise people to look for paid work (including outside the sector) to make ends meet and to try and supplement this with meaningful volunteer work.

However as you say Rachel, finding volunteer work can be difficult, the more experienced professional could consider looking for opportunities to undertake pro bono and/or ad hoc project work.

However I think the most important thing in this situation is to keep connected to networks like the FED, SSNS, and perhaps a local action learning set.
Rachel Cockett
MA Member
Partnerships & Performance Manager, Birmingham Museums Trust
24.09.2012, 12:41
Agree although undertaking pro-bono work, whilst great experience, is a nightmare for someone who is claiming dole to report...

R
Maurice Davies
MA Member
Head of Policy & Communication, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 13:27
The growing expectation that people have to work for free to gain experience to get paid woprk is a real problem as it discriminates against people who can't afford to work for nothing - and people who have friends or relatives in big cities thay can stay with for free are at an advantage here too. Some museums, such as Tate, are addressing this by only having paid interships, which are advertsied openly. Of course, not all museums can afford to pay voulnteers/interns - but in that case they need to take extra care to try to ensure that in all other ways their opportunities are promoted widely and open to everyone
Vanessa Trevelyan
MA Member
Director, Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
24.09.2012, 12:26
Acting as a Museum Mentor within the Accreditation Scheme is a good way for an experienced professional to maintain their skills and do some good at the same time.
Stephanie Killingbeck
MA Member
Museum Assistant, Royston & District Museum
24.09.2012, 09:14
I would like to ask for advice on finding a job after managing to gain that initial museum position. I am currently coming to the end of a short term maternity cover contract as a museum assistant. I am finding it incredibly difficult to find positions suitable to apply for with the level of experience I currently have.

The problem I appear to be facing is that, after completing an initial internship and working for several years I fit in neither as a trainee or as a long standing museum professional. I am therefore unable to apply for the many traineeships on offer or for the professional positions being advertised which seem to require the experience of many years in the industry.

I have found that after completing a period of training the support for young professionals disappears. I think it is fantastic that there are opportunities provided for those wishing to break into this difficult sector however if this support does not continue those having poured several years of their lives into breaking into the sector will begin to disappear. Having worked incredibly hard to get this far it would be heart breaking to have to give up now.

I know I am not alone in this dilemma as many of my friends are facing the same difficulties. I would really appreciate some advice on ways to make my current experience count and professional bodies etc I am perhaps missing which could offer support for this next stage in my career. Thank you for your help.
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:09
Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for your comment.

I think you have highlighted a key problem, the sector is losing a lot of talented professionals at the moment.

I note that you have just started your AMA, (I'm biased) but I think this could really help. Once you get to the second phase of the scheme, you should be able to work with an AMA mentor to try and work out the skills you currently have, the skills you need to get that next job and a strategy for developing any skills that you are missing.
Anonymous
MA Member
21.09.2012, 14:39
My question is whether universities are giving MA museum studies/heritage students a fair picture of what their career prospects will be on completion of their courses?

Since completing an MA last year I've got myself several interviews but have been told afterwards that I didn't have enough voluntary experience - begging the question whether it is even worth doing a Masters at all, for an entry level position. Many of my fellow graduates echo this feeling.

We thought that the MA course was a springboard into heritage careers and had no idea what the real job situation was like on the other side - so are universities doing the responsible thing by churning out more and more graduates in the subject?
Hannah Crowdy
MA Member
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
24.09.2012, 12:44
This is very much a personal opinion but I'm a great supporter of the MAs that you can study by distance learning.

As I did my Museum Studies MA by distance learning I got to work, study and volunteer in museums at the same time. The three very much went hand in hand - the paid work enabled me to volunteer and the voluntary work was invaluable for informing my MA, as I would always use real experience and case studies in my assignments. I also emerged from the MA with a good amount of voluntary work in the bank, rather than having to start from scratch.

I would agree with Richard about finding out about where recent graduates are working. We advise the same for people applying for our Collections Skills Inititaive programme.

It's not easy, but I don't think it's easy in any sector at the moment and it is certainly worth perservering. I've never regretted opting for a career in museums.
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:03
Hi -

You raise a number of issues here which are important ones. As you highlight, Universities should be open with applicants about the competitive nature of the sector and honest about the different things they are doing to support students in finding employment.

In terms of your own situation, it is great that you are getting interviews and that suggests that your CV is showing potential employers that you have the right things (skills, qualifications, experience) in place to be shortlisted.

Think then about how you can present and communicate this portfolio within an interview situation (I recently did a mock interview with a student who told me they found that the experience very illuminating and helpful for improving the way they responded in interview situations and conveyed and applied their experience to address the needs of the employer).

Those looking at postgraduate training opportunities should ask Universities for information about where recent graduates are working and what they are doing to support their search for employment.

Good luck - Richard
Anonymous
MA Member
21.09.2012, 14:05
Is it better to apply for short term contracts or wait it out for a permanent position to be advertised? I have a masters in conservation. Thanks.
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:04
Go for the short term contracts! This is the way that I built my own experience at the start of my career and it is the same for many graduates today. The more flexible you can be, the more chance you have of building up that experience.
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
21.09.2012, 14:03
A question asked via Twitter - could the panel also offer some advice to unemployed professionals (of any age) about how to get back into a job?
Clea Hodgson
MA Member
21.09.2012, 13:35
Hello,
I am busy during the time of the live chat on Monday, will the answers to the questions be available to view afterwards?
Thanks.
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
21.09.2012, 13:57
Hi Clea - yes, we'll make sure all the discussion is available online for future reference. So if you do have any points or questions you want to make now, you'll be able to see the responses at a later date.

Thanks,
Anonymous
MA Member
20.09.2012, 14:48
I have recently graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) from the Open University and am looking to work in collections management or a similar curatorial role.

In the past 4 years I have undertaken an internship and done various voluntary jobs. I currently work front-of-house in a museum and have had a short-term paid job with collections responsibilities.

I currently do 3 voluntary jobs alongside my paid job - covering conservation, volunteer management and exhibitions.

I'd like to do an MA one day but am wondering how necessary this is at the moment for a career in museums/heritage?

I'd like to think that my experience is valuable but wonder if I have a chance of getting a job if I am up against applicants with an MA! Also, is it a mistake to do too much, or too wide a range of volunteering - does this perhaps make me look like I lack focus?
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:08
Hi - Clearly your wide ranging experience to date is highly valuable.

Personally, I would say that you can never have too much experience and that having had experience of different roles and different organisations is very positive. Indeed, a senior museum director who talked to our students this year explicitly highlighted the value of building up experience of working in different kinds of jobs as a strategy that enabled them to successfully develop their career.

Having said that, it is important to tailor the way you present that experience in a way that shows how it makes you a strong candidate for each role you apply for. Be sure to spend some time tailoring each application for each job – that will involve highlighting parts of your experience more than others.

You ask about the value of postgraduate courses and clearly I am biased here! But I would say that many graduates tell us they have found the experience helpful for developing their career - partly because some employers specify a postgraduate qualification but more fundamentally they say it is because the course equips them to be more better practitioners.

Good luck - Richard
Anonymous
MA Member
24.09.2012, 20:19
Thanks Richard, that's useful advice. I probably do need to review how I present my experience in my applications as you say. I'd love to do an MA one day but can't afford this at the moment, I'll have to save up the pennies!
Anonymous
MA Member
19.09.2012, 15:26
I have recently graduated from the University of Leicester Master in Museum Studies and have gained work experience through a number of internships during the Masters in different European countries.

However these experiences were rather short and despite countless applications to museums and other cultural institutions, I have not yet reached even interview stage.

I'm sure it takes time and I'm not discouraged, but I look forward to discussing my profile with the panel and answer some questions such as: are diverse experiences a plus?

What about an international background/set of experiences?

Is there greater interest for national professionals, in terms of ease in recruitment procedures, rather than recruiting from abroad at early career level? are there any known graduate training schemes in the sector for people over 24?
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:56
Hi

There is some very useful advice emerging in response to many of the other posts (above) about how you can present the rich mix of experiences (some from short term placements) in your CV and applications. Start with the employer and their needs - and draw selectively (and of course honestly) from your mix of experiences to show how you can meet those needs and help the organisation to achieve its objectives (rather than simply presenting a list of all the different skills and experience you have). I am sure you are doing this anyway but it is surprising how many people (many with lots of experience) who still approach job applications with the wrong mindset.

International experience can be very appealing to employers - again, you need to be able to show how it relates to the selection criteria ... help the employer see how your experience (wherever it is gained) fits what they are looking for.

Very best - Richard
Rachel Sayers
MA Member
18.09.2012, 20:46
I am undertaking various voluntary schemes to enhance my skills before undertaking a MA in Heritage Management next year.

I live in Northern Ireland and opportunities are few and far between without travelling to Southern Ireland or travelling 3 hours, this is quite off putting to me as the cost of travel is abominable.

I find that the lack of training in Ireland has nearly put me off a career in Heritage/Museums due to lack of training or the elitist attitudes of Museums in Northern Ireland who don't and I quote 'do volunteering.'

I have a passion for art and history and this lack of experience is off putting, do you have any advice about gaining experience? Have you come across this elitist attitude in your approach to volunteering?

Northern Ireland Museums Council is always advocating for young people to get involved in museums when their training days are £60.00 for members and £100.00 for non members; having to wait for your membership to be approved by a panel.

They also don't advertise jobs to non-members. Is this attitude prevalent in England?

If so do you feel it is self defeating in their measures and elitist attitudes?
Hannah Crowdy
MA Member
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
24.09.2012, 13:00
Hi Rachel, this feedback is very useful for me to hear, as I find the sector very closed over here and it is difficult to get a handle on what things are really like 'on the ground'. I agree with you entirely about the approval system for NIMC membership, which does seem rather archaic to me and I'm not sure what purpose it serves.

Unfortunately though they probably could not afford to run courses at all if they did not charge for them. Why not try applying for some funding if there is a course or workshop you really want to attend? I've benefitted from the MA's Trevor Walden Trust scheme in the past and I think the Social History Curators Group (SHCG) has something in the pipeline.

Any jobs that NIMC adds to Twitter I also add (nirelandrep_ma), so even if people aren't members they can get the info that way.

Finally, another comment on volunteering. I can't speak for all museums over here but with most of them I can assure you that the attitude to volunteering is not an 'elitist' one. Volunteering does require resource input and that's something many museums don't have. At the national museums our curatorial departments are so depleted these days that we often find there simply aren't the staff to supervise volunteers. I know - excuses, excuses! The situation is poor and does need improving but I don't think that elitism is the root of the problem, rather lack of resources and infrastructure ie., the will is there, it's just finding the way...
18.09.2012, 14:23
I have an MA in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies and I am interested in volunteer management and collections management. I have experience in both as volunteer and intern, however, is there anything I could do to improve my employment prospects?
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:10

Hi Jennifer - Being as flexible as you can is important I think – my view would be that, even though you are particularly keen to work in the areas of volunteer or collections management, gaining further experience in any aspect of museum work will help you and that this need not then limit your ability to move across into other areas – Richard
Esme Wise
MA Member
18.09.2012, 11:55
I have just graduated with a Masters in Museum Studies and want to specialise in education. Do you think it's wise to apply for education-based jobs at this stage, or go for more general positions first?
Anonymous
MA Member
29.09.2012, 21:56
Hi Esme! I advocate a scatterbomb approach - apply for everything (within reason). Job descriptions often don't give a true picture of the job advertised and an interview (if you're lucky enough to get one) is different from getting or accepting a job offer, so maybe best not to limit your choices before you even start. It's much easier to judge whether a role is suited to you by visiting the museum and meeting the people. The more you apply for, the more interviews you're likely to get, the more interview practice and if nothing else, they might help you realise what it is that you don't want! In short, I think it's a mistake to judge jobs by the wording of the advert alone, something that sounds amazing in the ad might be completely unsuited to you and something that fails to thrill in writing might be a pleasant surprise.
Richard Sandell
MA Member
Head of School Museum Studies, School of Museum Studies
24.09.2012, 12:31
Hi Esme

I agree with the other comment below. Try not to limit your opportunities - taking a post in one area need not constrain you in applying for another later on. I know many graduates (and my own experience - many years ago! - reflects this too) who have been able to use the experience, skills and networks they gain in - for example, an education role, - to subsequently move into exhibitions or collections management later on. Good luck with the applications - Richard
Anonymous
MA Member
18.09.2012, 14:20
Do you have experience in education? If so, I would say its worth a shot. If not, I would go for more general posts, whilst trying to gain experience in education as a volunteer in museum/heritage environments or alternative environments like schools, community groups etc.
Anonymous
17.09.2012, 15:24
Would leaving the museum sector to gain management and commercial experience, and then rejoining at a higher level with the experience it's impossible to gain in the sector, be a viable strategy? I have been considering graduate schemes outside the sector that will fast track me to experience that will be valued at management level. I already have the BA, MA Museums Studies etc that have come to be expected, and progressing within the sector just seems too slow
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:39
Charlotte Holmes
MA Member
Museum Development Officer, Museums Association
24.09.2012, 12:37
I would like to know what museums employers think...

I personally think this is a good strategy, but do use the MA, local FED and/or SSN to keep connected to museums whilst working outside the sector.

I have read reports that state museums find it particularly difficult to recruit for business skills, so you could really add value to your CV, by gaining experience in these areas.

Of course I would advise you to reflect on why you wanted to work in museums in the first place, and think about lifestyle choices you may need to make now, that will help you come back to museums in the future. I know a couple of people who have worked in finance, set themselves up financially, then moved back into the culture/heritage sector, but I also know a few who never came back.