A student post from Angela Massafra, PhD student, Archaeology, University of Glasgow.
“I would love to work for a museum”. Who doesn’t know a person who ever said this kind of sentence? I know roughly a dozen…and I am one of those. I was one of those children who’d rather spend summer vacations in a museum than at the beach. That is why, growing up, I decided to make a career out of this passion. But how can one get a job in a museum? For students at Glasgow University, a possible answer is the Hunterian Associates Programme.
The HAP is a platform for early researchers, i.e. PhD students. Upon approval, each “associate” gets to carry out a personal project based on the Hunterian collection. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
I commenced my year as Hunterian Associate in January 2015, together with a small group of other PhD students. Guided by Ruth Fletcher, student engagement officer at The Hunterian, we started our venture, full of enthusiasm.
What we experienced the following months entirely met our expectations. My colleagues and I started developing awareness of our audience, while experiencing the use of different tools to reach it. We messed about with cameras and microphones, played with graphics and designs. We appreciated the potential of Facebook and Twitter, and put our hands on WordPress and Tumblr. But most of all, we had a chance to get out of our academic habitat to explore the worlds of museums and public engagement.
That exciting year passed quickly and I accomplished my task. It was only a few months later, though, that I realized the meaning of my project. I was sitting in front of two interviewers, asking about museum collections and public engagement. There, almost unknowingly, I found myself answering every question, feeling confident and qualified for that job.
In that moment I understood what the HAP had meant to me. This year-long project taught me how to use my researcher’s expertise to provide a significant impact on the experience of museum visitors. In one year, it gave me the skills to secure a job at Glasgow museums.
So, if you are a student at Glasgow University with a passion for museums, then the HAP might be a good place for you.