Last month Lily and I attended the Museums Association’s conference for early career professionals, Moving On Up. This year held in Leicester, the event “aims to help people increase their confidence, meet new contacts and find out about innovative and creative ways of getting ahead rather than just relying on traditional career paths.”
The entire day felt very positive and inspiring, and I particularly enjoyed the keynote speeches by Kathryn Perera and Hilary Jennings, which focused on aligning your values and goals with who you are as a person, wellness and fulfilment. Both speeches could have applied to virtually any sector, and were a reminder of things to consider beyond a role’s tasks and practical aspects such as salary or commute time when job hunting.
Charlotte Holmes from the MA then led a session on professional development and goal setting, asking us to reflect on where we were seven years ago, where we see ourselves in seven years’ time, and one step we would take within the next year to be closer to the future vision. The session made me wonder what will happen within the next seven years, as the past seven for me have seen a lot of growth and change – in 2008, I was in my first year of sixth form.
There were also sessions on interviewing and a Q&A with three museum directors (Maggie Appleton, Tony Butler and Iain Watson) who spoke about how they got to where they are now. One of the things that really stood out to me from the Q&A was not to underestimate the value of experience from outside of the sector. I think it is easy when pursuing a career in heritage to think that heritage experience will always be the most important thing on your CV, but many of us have worked in other industries and have gained useful experience there. An example Iain Watkins gave in relation to this is that everyone he has hired into the retail arm of Tyne and Wear Museums has come from a retail background.
I found the day really useful as as we are now well over the halfway point of the traineeship, I will soon need to begin to think about my next steps. The message of not being afraid of a meandering career path and the value of transferable skills was a pertinent one to hear when I will be soon be re-entering into such a competitive and relatively unstable heritage job market; I’m well aware that I will most likely need to be flexible about both sector and role when it comes to my next position!