Find out what previous successful candidates from the international bursary thought of their experiences.
Lucas applied successfully for an opportunity offered jointly by Casa Guilherme de Almeida and the University of Birmingham, to work for a month in Sao Paulo in August 2012. He took responsibility for updating a literary translation database, which required him to undertake thorough research, through both the internet and personal contact, identifying international organisations that might be able to provide assistance. He needed to liaise with both academic and non-academic institutions, speaking in English and Portuguese. Having obtained information he had to categorise the results of his research, identifying what information should appear ultimately on the public-facing database. Lucas reported daily to the internship coordinator, discussing each day’s work and how best to go about integrating the new information into the database.
Lucas identifies that his main achievement in undertaking the internship was the development of his fluency in speaking Portuguese “Being completely immersed in the language, both in and away from the workplace, aided my linguistic development in Portuguese to an extent that I believe would be impossible merely in a classroom. I learned phrases and ways of speaking that were particularly useful in a real-life working environment. I could communicate things in a clear way understood by everyone at the institute and by the end could listen to and understand the majority of a native speaker’s conversation without even thinking about it. It is this grasp of the language that I hope to retain despite now facing a year in the Spanish-speaking world, as the style in which I can communicate is far more professional than before and, I believe, a far greater asset in the jobs market.” He is also extremely proud of the work he has contributed to the database, which will be available to the entire world.
Aside from developing his language skills, Lucas developed several other skills including:
Personal organisation and accuracy
Working autonomously and living independently
When asked to consider how his placement might benefit his future career development, Lucas observes that, “I am already researching and applying for similar internships for the coming summer, demonstrating how much confidence I’ve gained from my taster of this working life abroad. I hope that in turn prospective employers will recognise the significance of someone who’s already undergone similar work experience that that which they’re offering, something that will hopefully stand me out from other candidates – particularly here in the UK and Europe… I want to pursue a career in translation... Many of the staff were indeed graduates and recommended this type of work for someone wishing to develop their knowledge of how language and translation skills can be applied in the working world, especially for a foreigner somewhere like South America. This has given me the confidence to believe I can use these skills I’m currently gaining through my course in careers aside from simply English teaching or interpretation – which for many language students seem to be the only obvious career options presented to them.”
In addition to helping Lucas, his presence also assisted the host organisation immensely, assisting in the development of the database, during a particularly busy time of year for both the research and museum sides of the institute.
Tanya served as a Museum Research Assistant at the Yad Vashem: Holocaust Memorial Centre in Israel, during June 2012. Tanya had sole responsibility for an ongoing project dedicated to tracing Nazi-looted art from Work War II. Daily duties included researching international cases, collating and summarising information. She produced file system organised by country, containing detailed summaries of each Nazi-looted art case. In addition to the project, Tanya undertook many other tasks involved in the running of an international museum, including using museum software specialised in archive cataloguing and database management (Such as ACDSee5.0 software and Sapir programme), verifying artist collections and administrative and secretarial work.
Tanya identifies many achievements during her placement, including:
Improving her research skills (one of her main aims) – She developed a keen eye for detail, using new methods and processes
She built close relationships with colleagues, many of whom were acclaimed professionals in the Art Museum world
Her knowledge was enhanced by attending many symposia and conferences
Language skills: her fluency in Hebrew improved immensely
Looking to the future, Tanya identifies that, “experience has certainly led me to identity further skills that I need in order to develop my career. The museum professionals around me were all extremely qualified and specialised in a particular area of study. I know now from their advice that I will also need to specialise in a particular area in order to give myself the best chance of succeeding in this very competitive field. Initially, this could be in the form of a Masters, which since the internship I have been researching in to. For this experience I have also developed more awareness of what it is exactly I am looking for and hope to achieve in any further education I may do.”
“This experience will make me stand out as a much more appealing candidate to future employers. I can now show that I have worked in an internationally acclaimed museum which not only has given me an insight into the normal functioning of an art museum but has also allowed me the opportunity to engage in very current issues that the art world is facing. Art dealers and museums are becoming increasingly aware of the dangerous histories entangled in some of the most famous artwork. My experience has exposed me to these issues and I now feel confident in grappling with them amongst professionals. For this reason, the experience I have had is quite unique and I hope will benefit me in the future when applying for further work experience and graduate positions.”
Joanne volunteered with the Katelios Group for the month of July. She was involved in two main types of activity: undertaking beach surveys and facilitating public awareness sessions. Beach surveys were performed from 6am daily until late morning and involved cycling to seven different beaches within a 14km radius, patrolling them and searching for evidence of turtle nesting activity, collating information and tracking data to provide a comprehensive picture of turtle activity. Joanne delivered public awareness sessions in nearby towns, in the morning and evening. She addressed both local people and tourists interested in turtle conservation, discussing the importance of helping to protect the loggerhead sea turtle and directing them to local attractions involving the turtles, such as the Argostoli harbour where turtles are easily seen and the environmental centre in Katelios.
Joanne took a great deal from her experience, identifying her main achievement as rescuing a loggerhead sea turtle that had become entangled in fishing line and which was at risk of drowning. Liaising with her supervisor, Joanne coordinated a rescue mission for the turtle. The operation took over two days and involved volunteers swimming to catch the turtle and then lifting it onto a harbourside wall, before others checked its health and removed the line. The operation was a big spectacle, attracting an audience of over 100 locals and tourists who gathered to watch the rescue. This helped to raise the profile of the group and the crowd donated large sums of money to the Katelios Group.
During her internship, Joanne developed many skills including, “soft skills such as communication, team working and decision-making. My communication skills were developed during my public awareness shifts and I was educating tourists and local people about the importance of sea turtle conservation, and
often people had retry different languages, cultures and backgrounds. Team working skills were developed during nesting surveys and night patrols when we were required to work together closely to ensure all data was collected correctly and efficiently. Decision-making was required throughout the project when we were working at the harbour with the turtles which were often trapped or injured in someway. Other skills are more technical and specific to the field in which I wish to work in; conservation ecology and biology. These specific skills are specialised to working with chelonian species such as sea turtles and tortoises, within a marine or terrestrial environment. These specific skills I have developed include nest marking and location using GPS technologies, next excavations, success analyses, embryology characterisations, satellite tagging, nesting surveys and hatching surveys.”
Joanne is keen to pursue a career linked to the work she undertook in her internship. The experience helped her to identify that there are further skills that she needs to develop. For example, “it would be very beneficial to my career prospects if I were to learn a greater number of bilateral techniques [such as] surveying ecological habitats. The experience I gained meant that I know a series of very specific skills however I need a great number of these techniques and skills to enhance my future career prospects… Developing leadership skills and management skills [will] articulate my abilities to future employers.”
Joanne also identifies that, “this experience will benefit me in the future when applying for work experience or jobs as I will be able to display a direct evidence of technical and specific skills which I have learnt in relation to conservation ecology. In application or interview stages I will be able to discuss and show evidence of how I have worked in challenging working conditions such as heat, exhaustion, basic camping living conditions, both early and late shifts, and lastly physically tiring and laborious work. These examples of challenges I have overcome will demonstrate my flexibility adaptability and determination to succeed despite the working conditions to prospective employers.”