The University of Kent’s bursary scheme has helped me to be able to afford to undertake a work placement at the Houses of Parliament’s Archives. I come from a low income family and, living in Derby, it would have been very difficult for me to have completed the placement without the help of funding for the train journeys.
The Parliamentary archives has been the biggest institution that I have worked for and has been one of the best placements that I have undertaken. Not only did the structure of the placement allow me to gauge a feel for a real working day and office life but this aspect also helped me to develop key time management skills, organisation skills and learning to prioritise my job which in previous employment, I had not really had that much opportunity to develop these skills in depth.
Furthermore, in the placement I developed various skills such as computing (using CALM software in order to catalogue archives, add descriptions and change locations), palaeography (a skill which will be incredibly beneficial to me not only during my dissertation research but also during my future career) and also public skills, helping with a tour of the parliamentary archives. All of these skills are important skills that an archivist needs, especially CALM, is the most common computer programme for inputting and cataloguing archives.
All of the staff were incredibly helpful in giving me advice on my future career for example putting me in touch with conservation units in Canterbury for more work experience and also directing me to a mailing list which advertises placements which I am now seriously considering undertaking after my postgraduate degree. Previously, I had not known about this idea of traineeships, however now, it has given me so many more options which could also help with funding my MA.
During this placement I also got to meet people from different departments and thus I have a further understanding of aspects such as records management and digitisation (which are other avenues that I could go down in the future).
– Charlotte Daynton is a 3rd year History student.