Written by guest writer, Gina Koutsika, Creative & Skills Director at V&A Museum of Childhood.
Panellist on Careers in Museums Panel, 11th November, 2019.
It was a great pleasure to be on the ‘Careers in Museums’ panel at UCL and to see so many students wanting to work in museums. For those that could not make it, here are my top 4 tips to succeed in the museum sector:
Learn about yourself, your needs and your preferences. Working in museums is fulfilling and rewarding. You are surrounded by passionate and interesting colleagues, significant – and sometimes astoundingly beautiful – artefacts that can reveal so many different stories and you create memorable, life-changing, enjoyable experiences for and with the public. However, working in museums requires – not only at the start but throughout your professional journey – a lot of personal sacrifices. It requires to invest a lot of your personal time; a lot of your energy and the pay is for some roles less than the national average. It is important to be confident that working in a museum is really what you want to do and that it worth the personal cost. Alternatives include being a museum supporter, museum consumer and a museum volunteer, while having a different career.
Develop your competencies and skills. Volunteer in different roles and in a variety of museums. Get to know the sector and gain hands-on experience, which is often more valuable, than academic knowledge. When I started and while working full-time, I was volunteering in both my own organisation (at another department) and in another museum. It was exhausting but also exciting and it enabled me to build on my skills and experiences, which led to a promotion.
Grasp any opportunity that comes your way and seek to create your own opportunities. Be open, available, and willing to support others. It’s important to make connections, take up training and networking opportunities. You may even want to source a mentor. There are a number of networks you can join for free, and museum membership organisations, like ICOM, MA, GEM, VSG as well as subject -specialist network, that usually have a discounted student membership. There are also bursaries to attend conferences and training days, and it is worth saving up and investing in your professional development.
Regularly, visit museums and exhibitions and observe how visitors engage and interact. Note what worked and what did not. Think about what you may have done differently and your reasoning for it. Talk to the front-of-house staff and learn from their experiences in the galleries. Keep a log of your visits and who you meet. Keep up with the latest developments in the sector through newsletters, research papers, books. Read widely and outside the museological literature.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work in a start-up or perhaps even launch your own? In this video, UCL Careers Consultant, Raj, talks to entrepreneurs and start-ups about lessons they learnt and different routes in. Watch now for an insight into the Innovation & Enterprise team here at UCL!
Whether you’re applying for an internship in a company that’s around the corner, or on the other side of the world, general advice around how to construct a great CV, cover letter, and application is universal. You’ll want to prepare an application that highlights your skills, experience, and interests in order to convince an employer that you’re the best person for the role. Saying that, there is some additional preparation you can do if you are preparing an application for a global internship.
Research, research, research
Use a site like GoinGlobal (a service that UCL Careers subscribes to) to check the conventions in the country you’re applying to. You don’t need to follow every rule – not only do CVs and cover letters differ from country to country, but also job to job and industry to industry. However, you might discover some useful guidelines, such as countries where it is standard practice to include things like a photo or pre-written references.
If you are planning to undertake an internship in Europe, you could also check out Europass, an online tool that helps you prepare the necessary documents to highlight your skills and qualifications, including template CVs, cover letters and a language self-assessment tool.
Get your numbers right
Including a telephone number? Remember to include the right international dialing code. Writing a date? Get the order of day, month and year right for the standard practice of the country you’re applying to a job in. These seemingly small differences show that you’ve done your homework and back up any claim you’ve made of showing attention to detail!
Highlight your language skills
It’s not always a prerequisite of a role to have any additional language skills, although if it is, you should certainly mention how you meet that criteria. Be honest with your skills and include your level of fluency. If you claim to be fluent in a second language, a native speaker can easily check this at interview stage. Write your application in the same language as the job advert (unless it is explicitly stated to submit it in another language).
“Translating” your experience
Be aware that your qualifications, or even institution, may not be as well recognised in the country you are applying for an internship in. You can include the international equivalent to your degree (Scholera has a free conversion tool) and consider changing UCL to the local language (e.g. UCL is 伦敦大学学院in Chinese). You could mention that UCL is a world-leading university (top 10 according to the latest QS rankings) or include something specific about your department or course that makes it stand out internationally.
Highlight your international experience
By applying for an internship outside of the UK and/or your home country, you should highlight your ability to work in a global context, adapt to a new environment and work with colleagues from different cultures. Highlight past experiences living abroad, language skills, working with peers from different nationalities and any examples of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and overcoming challenges. Remember to also address the other skills that are required for the role – you might be able to adapt to life in the country as easy as pie, but you’ve also got to show that you’re the right candidate for the role! UCL Careers has plenty of general advice and guidance to help you write excellent CVs and cover letters on the UCL Careers website as well as the following CareersLab videos.
Declare your visa status
Whilst not a requirement, it can be useful when applying for an internship in a foreign country to make clear your visa status at application stage. There may be cases where it’s simply not possible for an employer to accept an international candidate, so you could either find out beforehand or outline the situation in your application. Note that your visa status is different to your nationality, which you don’t have to disclose on your CV.
Get a helping hand
All job applications should be proofread and spell-checked but this is particularly critical if you’ve written it in another language. Even if it is in English, it might be worth getting someone who doesn’t know UCL or your degree subject to read it to see if they can easily follow what you have written in your application. You could even contact recruitment agencies in the country where you intend to work and ask their advice.
Not all internships are advertised and many students approach companies directly with the aim of securing an internship with that organisation. They may have found the company online or used their personal network to get contact details of an appropriate person. This is a really positive, proactive of finding opportunities and shows your eagerness to work for that company. If you go down this route, it is really important that you understand the culture before you send any emails. In some cultures, addressing the email or letter to ‘Dear Sir/Madam rather than a named contact can be seen as rude so try and find exactly who you want to approach.
So it’s time to start making those applications! Remember you can have your application checked by a UCL Careers Consultant (in English!) before you send it off to an organisation. Next time we’ll be exploring video interviews, which are very common in the recruitment process when applying for internships overseas.
Ian Richardson – Senior Treasure Registrar, Department of Learning and National Partnerships, British Museum
MA in Cultural Heritage Studies from the Institute of Archaeology (UCL) in 2007
What is your role and where you work?
I work as part of a project called the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is run by the British Museum. Specifically, I manage a team of four Treasure Registrars and we carry out the administration for cases of ‘Treasure’ reported under the requirements of the Treasure Act 1996. Treasure items are objects which, when found, have no known owner and which are made of gold or silver and are more than 300 years old, hoards of coins except for base-metal coins hoards of fewer than 10 coins, and prehistoric base-metal hoards. In practice, the vast majority of this material is found by metal detector users.
What challenges does your sector / organisation face at present?
One challenge that we face which is specific to our jobs is that continuous rise in the amount of material being reported and which we have to process. This seems down to the growing popularity of metal detecting as a hobby and also to the fact that reporting such finds has been made easier over time. This challenge is linked to something that is facing the entire museum sector, which is a lack of funding to support all of our activities. Many people are now expected to ‘do more with less’.
What is the range of roles that people can apply for in your organisation?
There are a wide range of roles available at the British Museum. Probably what first comes to find is ‘curatorship’ but in fact, roles directly involved with the collection only make up about 1/3 of the jobs at the British Museum. There are also opportunities in fundraising, facilities and maintenance, finance, human resources and education, for instance.
What skills/qualities do you feel are particularly important in the type of work you do?
In my role it is useful to have a good general knowledge of British History, current archaeological and museological principles, and of the types of artefacts that are typically found in Britain. However, the last topic is something that is picked up quite quickly ‘on the job’. More generally it is important to be organised, have good attention to detail and the ability to understand how one’s job impacts on wider activities within the museum and beyond. There is a lot of diplomacy required in this role, as it involves dealing with colleagues who one has to chase for progress, and also involves a lot of correspondence with members of the public whose expectations (in terms of timescales and potential financial rewards) have to be managed.
Written by Rhiannon Williams, Global Internships Manager at UCL Careers.
Welcome to the first in a series of blogs aimed at helping students to find, apply for, prepare for and undertake a global internship (usually meaning outside the UK and probably your home country). We will be publishing blogs under the #myglobalinternship tag across the autumn and spring terms, so keep an eye out!
So maybe you’ve been applying for international internships already, or perhaps it’s something you’d like to start doing. Wherever you’re at, you may have come across the term ‘global mindset’ and you might wonder what this actually means.
One of the simpler definitions we like is ‘the ability to operate comfortably across borders, cultures, and languages’ and for a student to be a ‘global graduate’ they need to be able to possess a range of competencies such as team-working, adaptability, resilience and self-awareness.
Why is it important?
In an increasingly globalised workplace, employers require their staff to have intercultural competence to enable them to collaborate effectively with their colleagues and in different cultural settings (such as in a country you may not have experience before). They also need employees from diverse backgrounds to represent their client base, who can also grasp the interconnectedness of international business.
A report from McKinsey’s Global Institute shows that ‘cross-border data flows are increasing at rates approaching 50 times those of last decade. Almost a billion social-networking users have at least one foreign connection, while 2.5 billion people have email accounts, and 200 billion emails are exchanged every day. About 250 million people are currently living outside of their home country, and more than 350 million people are cross-border e-commerce shoppers’.
In addition, ‘increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the centre of organisational operations’ according to the Future Work Skills 2020 report. This means employers are looking for candidates who can keep up with this rate of change and collaborate virtually by working productively and effectively as part of a virtual team (e.g. one across different global sites).
What kind of experiences can you draw upon?
By studying at UCL, you are already in a great position to talk about your experiences of interacting with individuals from different cultures, given that there are over 150+ nationalities represented on campus. You can also demonstrate your global mindset by talking about the following experiences on your applications and in interviews:
Living abroad (during upbringing or as part of course)
Picking up language skills
Transitioning from home to London
Coming to London from outside of the UK
Representing one organisation at its interface with another in a different region/country/culture
Presenting papers at international conferences or in committees
Having an interest in current affairs, listening to/reading global business news (be prepared to back this up)
Sensitivity to different regional/class/cultural attitudes, e.g. travel, voluntary work, vacation jobs
Plus, if you decide to undertake a global internship in summer 2020 then that will enhance your global mindset even further! For further reading about global skills, you may enjoy the QS 2019 Global Skills Gap Report which aims to provide a greater understanding of the gaps between graduate skills and employer expectations around the world. You can also book a careers appointment to talk about these skills and explore how you can highlight yours to future employers!
Written by Colm Fallon, Careers Consultant, UCL Careers
You may have missed Government & Policy Themed Week 2019, but don’t fret, you can access recordings from this year and previous year’s events and related resources by heading to our website.
It’s impossible to sum up all of the valuable insights shared throughout the week, but here are 5 things we learned from Government & Policy Themed Week 2019:
Rapid changes are the norm
Working in the Civil Service can sometimes resemble the TV show ‘The Thick of It’. There may be fewer expletives used, but things can change rapidly, and you have to be adaptable. For example, you may be working on and promoting one policy in the morning, but by the afternoon priorities may have shifted and you find yourself having to completely change your focus.
Evidence is key
Our speakers also emphasised how working in a space where the agenda can be set and changed by forces outside of your control may not be for everyone and that’s OK! You may spend months working on a policy but due to public pressure or economic factors, it may not be implemented or may have to be adapted to meet the changing circumstances (the world as it is, not as we wish it to be). The work of advising Ministers means focusing on the evidence and that is not affected by changes in public opinion.
Experience is knowledge
You can gain useful experience working on the fringes of government, e.g. public affairs, lobbyists, think tanks, charities, and so on. You’ll gain an outsider perspective on how government works. Importantly, working in the Civil Service means being apolitical, you need to be impartial and able to provide policy arguments, not political arguments. If you have political ambitions you may be better off gaining experience outside or of course working directly with parliamentarians and political parties. Some MPs would suggest that working completely outside of and removed from politics can be beneficial. Learning about business, people and the world can help you better serve your constituents.
Change takes time but the results can be very rewarding
Influencing policy is being a voice in the discourse, one of many. Although it can be difficult to be heard the most rewarding aspect is seeing the impact on individuals of the policy changes you’ve fought for and implemented. It’s important to realise that change takes time, and the key to success is to make sure that the long term impact is understood and prioritised over short term gains and personal biases.
Everyone gets imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome (feeling like a fraud who will be found out at any moment), can be common and it’s a normal way to feel. Be kind to yourself, have realistic expectations and remember that learning is a process. No one can be expected to know everything right away. The key to success is to work on upskilling and build relationships with colleagues and mentors. Utilise your network for support and advice, most people would have been through the same experiences as you at some stage.
This week on CareersLab, careers expert, Raj Sidhu, talks us through his top tips for acing video interviews – from getting the sound quality right to perfecting your preparation.
Did you know that over 50% of graduate recruiters now use video interviewing as part of their recruitment process? Have you ever wondered how to ace these and to move ahead compared to your competition?
Well, Episode 5 of CareersLab has you covered. Watch this video for 6 ways you can maximise your chances of impressing at the video interview recruitment.
Deciding on a career path can be an overwhelming experience but fear not, you are probably not the only student stressing about which career path to choose. Often the industry jargon that crops up during career research and investigations can be downright terrifying. But here is the good news – you are not alone! As a student putting feelers out, you are in the best possible position to get a head start on learning the technical jargon and positioning yourself as an up-and-coming expert in your chosen field, long before any of your “competitors” (sorry, those are unfortunately your classmates) do.
You’re in the right place, especially if you are looking to get a handle on Fin-Tech technical jargon. Before you can start applying for roles, you need to know what the industry pros are talking about (and referring to), without having to ask them – so I am going to share with you what I’ve learned along the way. Let’s jump right in…
It is good to know what Fin-Tech stands for – it almost certainly will come up in an interview. Think of an interviewer asking “So, what is your understanding of the term Fin-Tech?”
It is basically an abbreviation of ‘financial’ and ‘technology’. Any business that works with technology that manages and controls finances is considered a Fin-Tech company. Fin-Tech can refer to several different financial areas, such as cryptocurrency, banking applications, money management tools, automated investment programs and apps, and so on.
“Sandbox” is a bit of lingo that refers to regulation. When someone in Fin-Tech speaks of a sandbox, they are referring to a “safe space” or a controlled environment where Fin-Tech companies can try out new tech. The Fin-Tech community has started eagerly trying to implement “sandboxes” where tech innovators can present their new tech aimed at the financial services industry. This way of testing provides both tech designers and companies operating in the financial sector the opportunity to uncover potential glitches as well as regulation problems that might arise from using the tech. It also helps both parties to figure out if they are a good “match” for each other.
This is tech software that underpinned Bitcoin. In some instances, industry pros might refer to it as DLT which stands for Distributed Ledger Technology. The software provides industry professionals with access to shared info records, which are regularly updated by computers (a network).
This is the term used for advice that is provided via a computer algorithm instead of an actual live human. A robo-advisor will be able to invest a client’s money on their behalf. The investments are done in portfolios that are made up of several small funds that are exchange-traded.
This is the process of ensuring that the product or Fin-Tech innovation is more than just a passing fad. This will require testing, market research and projections.
A marketplace lender is an alternative financial service (not a bank) that uses technology to evaluate loan requests. The data gathered is used to match lenders with borrowers. Marketplace lenders are efficient with cost-cutting and can streamline loan approvals.
An entrepreneur is said to be bootstrapping when he attempts to found and build a company with little capital or from personal finances or the operating revenues of the new company– like playing it by ear with no back-up finance.
Proof of Burn
This term can also refer to “proof of work” and basically means that someone is bootstrapping (when an entrepreneur starts a business with little capital) one cryptocurrency for another. When someone mentions “proof of burn”, they are implying that crypto miners should prove that they burned some of the currency they acquired. The proof required is showing that currency has been sent to an un-spendable address that is verified.
This is something that the non-bank financial lending sector is pushing for in the UK. While not many banks embrace the concept, there are some that are creating such platforms. Open Banking is a concept that entails banks sharing their data with third parties, to ensure that there is more competition and choice in the financial lending sector and to improve on transparency. The idea is to benefit consumers. Fin-Tech companies wish to create applications (or one application) that presents multiple bank account information within one app. This will make financial management easier and quicker.
These are just some of the tech terms that are hot in the Fin-Tech industry right now. Brush up on your jargon knowledge before applying for any Fin-Tech roles. One of the requirements of an expert in the field is to have your finger to the pulse of all things tech related – the jargon included. Good luck!
This is a guest blog post written by Alice Farren. Alice is a financial journalist, fin-tech and SME specialist with a passion for promoting the talents and success stories of emerging entrepreneurs.
SME Loans is a business finance brokerage specialising in alternative funding solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises.
The UCL Careers team use this Blog to share their ‘news and views’ about careers with you. You will find snippets about a whole range of career related issues, news from recruiters and links to interesting articles in the media.
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Karen Barnard – Director, UCL Careers
UCL Careers is part of The Careers Group, University of London
Accurate at the time of publication