Rebecca and George spent 6 weeks as Heritage Interns for the Cadbury Research Library at the University of Birmingham. As interns they were responsible for: preparing Special Collections material for an exhibition, including selecting, cleaning and creating captions for each piece; they promoted the exhibition and other aspects of the collection through the use of digital technology; indexing records relating to the history of the University of Birmingham from the University Heritage Archives and completing training and exercises in the handling, cleaning and transportation of rare books and other such archival material.
Rebecca says “The level of responsibility and independence we had during the internship was fantastic and really made it feel as though we were valued members of the team. Another aspect which made the internship really valuable was the time we were allowed for professional development, that is to say meeting with team members to discuss their roles, careers and the training needed.” Although, as George concedes, “Indexing Redbrick editions required a lot of concentration and long hours of repetitive work; however, it was very rewarding seeing what we had completed by the end of the internship.”
Both interns gained important skills in basic handling and cleaning of archival materials, indexing skills, and exhibition preparation skills including caption writing and arrangement. In addition to these specific skills the internship was really useful for practicing communication and networking skills and giving an insight into working in a professional environment.
“The internship has helped me define my future career plans in the heritage sector and will hopefully make me stand out amongst other candidates due to the fantastic responsibility, training and independence we were given.” Rebecca
“Just go for any internship or work experience that you can see or get emailed as you might find that you really enjoy it. It’s important to be confident in an interview and to have researched the company/department beforehand so that you know what you are talking about and have some background on what goes on.” George