My first month at The Hunterian

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A staff post by Kyle Steele, Education Trainee at The Hunterian.

Hello to everyone, my name is Kyle and I was recently given the position of Education Trainee at The Hunterian. Having completed my first month out of a six-month position, my experiences here have been like a dream come true.

A favourite spot to eat lunch on campus, just outside The Hunterian.

It is not every day that you accidentally stumble into your dream sector for work. Some people try for years, some end up going somewhere else. The museum sector is one which is notoriously difficult to get into, or so I am told. For me, working for a museum was a dream I worried I would never attain. For a boy from a working-class family, the idea of attaining a position in a museum is often portrayed by media as above my grade. The fact I had made it to university, the first of my family to go in living memory, was consistently raised by professional institutions as some sort of gift from them rather than something I had earned through working hard. So, to be working for one of the country’s and indeed the world’s most respected and famous universities (the University of Glasgow) is not something I had personally envisioned. With the help of Museums and Galleries Scotland and the Government’s “Kickstart” programme, The Hunterian had been allowed to provide a temporary position for an Education Trainee. It was a moment which could have been missed, an opportunity which could have passed me by, luckily it did not.

The first thing I remember was the excitement of getting an email from Ruth Fletcher, the Education Manager at The Hunterian, offering me an interview for the position. As I previously mentioned this position in my own mind seemed above me, maybe to others it seemed above me too, it is not my place to say. The Hunterian and Museums and Galleries Scotland were giving me a chance and a chance is all it can take to make big waves in your own life. I got the position, I was nervous, shocked, surprised – the reality of being offered the position was so surreal to me that excitement never crossed my mind, I was simply too surprised about being offered the position for the reality to set in immediately.

Me on my first day, 2nd August 2021 – looking very smart if I do say so myself.

Eventually the reality had to set in because it was my first day. Dressed in my Sunday best, I began my journey with The Hunterian. Almost immediately upon starting was I shown just how wrong I was to be nervous or to doubt myself. The team immediately began to make me feel like I belonged. I was surrounded by amazing and accomplished people, from the Director to Curators to Researchers and other members of staff. Never once did or have those amazing, accomplished people ever made me feel like I do not belong here. Never once have I been made to feel like I do not belong with The Hunterian or at The University of Glasgow. To meet amazing individuals who never look down at you and to feel like you are one of them is a brilliant feeling.

My work at The Hunterian runs deeper than singing the praises of my colleagues, no, rather my work has been nurtured and supported by both Museums and Galleries Scotland and The Hunterian in providing me with as many good and relevant skills as I would need to find a permanent position in the sector at the end of my six-month period. To accomplish this, I have been given so many resources that some days I worry I am not using them to their full potential. I have been given training in IT skills, object handling, visitor experience, admin, education, audience experience and some I am surely forgetting to mention. My first month has been a great opportunity to learn, but also to join in on some of the amazing work The Hunterian is committed to doing. This has included working on new programmes that The Hunterian wishes to run and also in improving existing programmes. I have learned to use Microsoft programmes far deeper than I ever imagined I would have to, which has made my IT life far easier. Personally, I feel like I have got pretty good at writing an email – and at waking up in the morning.

From amazing exhibitions, displays, colleagues and work environment, my skills have already been nurtured here and will be further expanded. I am excited for what the next five months will bring. I look forward to the exciting times and potential challenges ahead. I have found myself doing things I could never imagine. To some people it may not be much, but to me producing work which is appreciated, critiqued and made all the better is truly worth the time and effort it takes to perfect it. The work I have done on an accessibility large font guide for the Mackintosh House introductory area is a level of work which feels rewarding. And it is rewarding because it is helpful and makes The Hunterian more accessible. That is the level of work that is most enjoyable, the work that helps.

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