This June, I took part in a two week internship with Library and Archives Team at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Here is a short account of my experiences, and how they will definitely help me in the future…
The main skill that I gained from my work experience at Chatham Historic Dockyard was an in-depth understanding of the heritage sector. On my first day, I was given a “behind-the-scenes” site tour, allowing me to understand the day-to-day operations of an internationally renowned museum. As a History student who is interested in a career in the heritage sector, the knowledge I gained was invaluable, and will certainly be useful when applying for full-time positions at museums and other heritage sites.
A photograph of me completing collections records audits – transferring paper copies into electronic copies
Another skill which I developed at the Dockyard was my project delivery skills. When I arrived at the Dockyard, I was assigned my own project as part of the wider project to refurbish the Library and Archives building. During my work experience, I drove my own project, learning how to organise my work and time effectively. Whilst working independently, I also communicated orally and in writing to other members of staff in an effective and professional manner. My project management and delivery skills are hugely transferable to many sectors, and will be sure to interest prospective employers.
Given the bulk of my work took place in the library and archives of the Dockyard, it is also unsurprising that I gained an understanding of archival work. Whilst I had visited a number of archives during my studies at Kent, I had little understanding of how they operated, and the work that goes into their upkeep. During my work experience I learned how archives store and organise their artefacts. I was able to get hands on in this work, by compiling databases and auditing library collections. I also learned how to the use the museum’s specialist collections software – Vernon CMI, and was able to input new artefacts to great success. This experience gave me great insight into libraries and archives, which will be useful when applying for jobs in the sector. My increased understanding of databases and office work is hugely transferable and will no doubt come in handy in whatever career I pursue.
The main library and archives room. Many collections are boxed up and ready to be moved to the soon-to-be-built new library.
Another skill which I was able to develop was events management. . As part of my work experience, I was part of a team which delivered a large scale educational event for several hundred school age children. My role included ushering groups around and communicating effectively with senior staff.
Arguably the most significant skill I gained from my work experience was confidence in networking. During my work experience I was able to discuss my ambitions and career prospects with staff, gaining some useful advice along the way. I also gained a number of connections on my LinkedIn profile through my work experience, which will be useful in expanding my working network. My contact’s offer to provide me with a reference for job applications was also hugely helpful.
– George Croft is a recent University of Kent History graduate. Featured photo: The H.M.S. Gannet – A Royal Navy sloop built in 1878, one of three ships on site.