Written by Cal Brindley
Last month I attended the Museums and Galleries Industry panel at Goldsmiths. Amongst the speakers were:
Tim Corum, Director, Curatorial and Public Engagement, Horniman
Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Royal Collection Trust
Katherine Moulds, Assistant Collections and Loans Registrar at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
Students attending heard each of the speakers discuss their current roles and the path they took to get there; they were then able to chat with them informally over refreshments afterwards.
Some of the key themes that kept coming up over and over again were:
- Be flexible: being able to move around different organisations as well as to different parts of the country will enable you to try out a variety of roles to find out what area suits you
- Have an understanding of the role and organisation: do your research!
- Importance of varied work experience: never underestimate the value of temping jobs which enable you to develop a wide variety of skills
- Network: keeping in contact with people is a great way to stay up-to-date with the business and the industry as a whole. If they can’t offer you anything at the moment, is there anyone else they could recommend you speak to?
Skills and traits that are especially valuable are:
- organisational skills
- a desire for public service/community focus
- multi-tasking; and
- having a “can do” attitude – you may be asked to step in to another role – don’t worry about your lack of experience, if you show enthusiasm, you never know where this will lead.
Our speakers said it can be hard to get into the public sector without an MA although it’s certainly not impossible.
There were a couple of interesting points that cropped up in the Q&A afterwards:
Does a focus on contemporary and Modern art make a difference to employment opportunities in the sector?
A: While it is important to have a good grounding in more traditional areas, it is not necessarily a disadvantage. There is a deep interest in practice, as well as theory, and contemporary knowledge is valued. It is beneficial to have specialist knowledge, however it is also important to be willing to get to know more about a range of fields.
How should you approach getting a job at the end of your internship?
A: Be direct, it is important to let the place that you have been working know that you are interested in staying. Maintain contact and stay on good terms with your employers. Even if they don’t have a job available at that point they may later. If you are on good terms with the employer you could also ask for a recommendation, which could help you find another role.
Search for roles in this sector here: http://bit.ly/1Id1Lyd
Museums Associations website http://www.museumsassociation.org/home
Search CareersTagged for further careers resources for the heritage sector