CAREER

My Traineeship with The National Archives

 

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Top: Dorothy Perkins (similar)

Jeans: ASOS

From October 2015 to the end of September 2016, I was employed as a Transforming Archives Trainee with the National Archives, centred on Outreach and Engagement. My traineeship has been at the London Metropolitan Archives.

My placement at the London Metropolitan Archives has been in the Development team. The Development team falls into two strands, school workshops and adult events. The team coordinates school workshops for students starting from year four all the way up to university. The school workshops are about general school subjects like history, PSHE, Maths and usually last for three hours. Many of the schools groups get to experience a tour of the London Metropolitan Archives building, which includes a tour of the strongroom, where the archives are stored and a glimpse at the Mediatheque, where users can experience digital archives – digital archives being film, pictures and sound. The children and the teachers love the workshops and the feedback is always great because the workshops are insightful and very interactive.

Young people also experience to attend the summer school. This year, the summer school was on the Great Fire of London, celebrating its 350th anniversary. There was a daylong event for adults including document viewings, talks and a walk of an area of London.

Adult workshops vary on topic and style. There are monthly clubs; the LGBT history club and the film club. There are one off historical events, which can be talks or walks. For example this month is World toilet day and the Development team will be delivering a talk event on it. There have been walks on various topics; theatre, London tube stations and so much more.

I coordinated, produced and delivered a talk, a performance and documents-viewing on the Keskidee Centre, called ‘Discovering the Keskidee Centre’. The London Metroppolitan Archives holds the archives of the Keskidee Centree. The Keskidee Centre was Britain’s first black arts centre. It was opened by architect and cultural activist, Oscar Abrams in 1971 and was situated in Islington, near Kings Cross. It has had many influential actors, directors and writers walk through its doors. Some like Bob Marley, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Yvonne Brewster. I have a love for children and adult workshops so merged the two and ‘Discovering the Keskidee Centre’ was for children and adults’ event. It was well attended and ended with a dynamic conversation and many of the attendees were past visitors of the Keskidee Centre. One of the attendee had her artwork exhibited at the Keskidee Centre and one of the document on view at the ‘Discovering the Keskidee Centre’ event, she had designed.

 

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My traineeship involved organising an event and this event was a component of it. This event was also an assignment for the ‘GEM Foundation Course: museum learning’ I completed. The National Archives had an allocated amount for funding for me to attend training events and one of them was this course. It was a three month course, of two days per month in Manchester. It involved visits to museums, presentations from museum workers and exercises exploring the skills needed to work in the heritage industry. If you work in the heritage sector I would highly recommend it. You receive mentoring from a heritage professional. Mine was Ria Bartlett who is the Learning and Digital Programmes Manager at the British Library. She invited me to attend a work experience day where I shadowed a school workshop in the exhibition area. The exhibition was ‘Shakespeare in Ten Acts’, an absolutely amazing exhibition on William Shakespeare and his plays. I also spoke to a few employees from the British Library. It was an inspirational day. The people who work there seem like very forward thinking working people. And they are really cool.

The next ‘ GEM Foundation: Museum Learning’ is in London and has already started this month. But in a couple of months, the Manchester course will be begin again, so hold tight for that.

I have also attended conferences in Edinburgh and in London, in the British Museum and at School of Oriental and African Studies. They have been great events.

My traineeship has been exciting. I have developed so much skill and self-belief in this past year and it has really pushed me. Not only because this was my first full time job, but I worked with a great team who encouraged me to get stuck in. I never knew I could be a person who enjoyed challenging herself. I enjoy working and I take it seriously, more seriously than I have in the past. The traineeship has really taught me how to be a professional. Plus in the middle of my traineeship I read Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ which was a great inspirational push to me and inspired me to make ‘Discovering the Keskidee Centre’ a great event.

I also had a great Line Manager at the London Metropolitan Archives, Maureen Roberts, who mentored me and encouraged me at low points; from small things like complimenting me on my makeup to giving me monthly professional guidance. I want to show appreciation to her and to the National Archives, who have invited me to their annual conference to receive my traineeship certificate. Thank you for employing me and giving me a special year.

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