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Take control and secure your summer internship

Chloe JAckroyd24 April 2019

Written by Recruitment and Selection Advisor, Susanne Stoddart.

It won’t come as a surprise to hear that graduate employers will really value seeing some professional work experience on your CV. According to research from the Institute of Student Employers, recruiters believe graduates with professional work experience have the required transferable skills to do the job better than those without it. But we know it’s not always easy setting out to secure these opportunities. The many myths and ideas that circulate about internships – for example, that interns only carry out menial tasks but, at the same time, all internships are ultra-competitive – hardly build confidence or inspire action.

Although the summer break is just around the corner, it’s not too late to secure some professional work experience for the vacation. The UCL Jobs Market 2019 takes place on Wednesday 5th June, 2-4pm, where you can meet with employers offering summer internships in a wide range of sectors. Also, take a look at our advice on Sourcing and making the most of internships. But first, carry on reading for a couple of tips on building confidence and beating the application blues (with assistance from some self-help gurus… and Wonder Woman!).

Take Control with Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, has sold over 25 million copies, and Covey’s first habit revolves around Circles of Concern and Circles of Influence. A Circle of Concern encompasses the wide range of worries a person has about life, or about a particular aspect of their life. Covey says that we should be focussing our time and energy not on our Circle of Concern but instead on our Circle of Influence, which encompasses issues that we actually have some control over.

You may be wondering what all these circles have got to do with your summer internship. Well, many of the discouraging ideas that circulate about internships are beyond your control or influence and therefore belong in the Circle of Concern. You can’t do anything about the fact that securing an internship is a competitive process, or that, maybe, you’ve never done an application for professional work experience before. There’s no point in dwelling on these concerns or letting them put you off giving it your best shot if you have a little time. It’s far better to be proactive and empowered by focussing on what you can control – your Circle of Influence – such as putting together an effective application that showcases your motivation, skills and experience in the best light. Remember, if you’d like some help with this, you can book in for a one-to-one Application Advice appointment with UCL Careers.

Smash Impostor Syndrome with Amy Cuddy

With an estimated 70% of the population experiencing it at some point in their lives, impostor syndrome is where an individual doubts the validity of their accomplishments and fears being exposed as inadequate, despite evidence that they are actually a competent, skilled and successful person. The common concern that you need professional experience to secure more professional experience can spark the fear and self-doubt characteristic of impostor syndrome and discourage internship applicants. In reality, employers don’t expect interns to have lots of professional work experience; they’re interested in motivation, transferable skills and potential. Academic achievements, extra-curricular activities – such as mentoring, playing sports or being on the committee of a student society – in addition to volunteering and part-time work are all valued successes that can showcase skills and potential.

For Amy Cuddy, banishing the impostor syndrome is all about the “power pose” – she advises that we take a couple of minutes in private to stand tall with chest out and hands on hips, just like Wonder Woman, in order to increase confidence for the day ahead. In one of the most watched TED talks of all time, Cuddy proves that body language affects not just how others see us – it also influences our own minds, reduces stress, increases confidence and impacts how we see ourselves.

Whether channelling Wonder Woman proves to be your thing or not, take control, acknowledge your achievements, showcase your skills and secure your summer internship anyway! The application effort will be worth it when you get your invitation to interview and remember, when it comes, you can book in with UCL Careers for a Practice Interview as another great way to boost your confidence and prepare.

UCL Careers Researchers Programme – Summer 2019

Chloe JAckroyd18 March 2019


Find your future: UCL Careers Researchers EventsUCL Careers are delighted to confirm their programme of workshops and events for the summer term 2019, specifically designed for UCL’s Researcher’s community.

The programme includes workshops led by UCL Careers Consultants, for careers both in academia and beyond, to help researchers identify and develop core competencies, which are vital for competing in the job market, as well as a mix of Employer Forums and Employer Workshops that give the opportunity to hear from professionals in a range of sectors outside of academia, to ask questions, understand the job market and build business networks.

Researchers won’t want to miss the big event of the summer term – the annual full-day ‘Professional Careers Beyond Academia’ Conference. Presented by UCL Populations & Lifelong Health Domain Early Career Network & UCL Careers, supported by UCL Organisational Development, this conference will be held at the Institute of Child Health on 6th June, focusing on the field of life & health sciences and its related areas, such as UK and Global Public Health, Science Communications, Research & Development, Consultancy, Government Policy and more.

Booking on all events is now open.

For the full programme of events/workshops coming up for researchers this summer and book your place/s, please view the ‘Events Calendar’ on our Researchers page.

 

Any queries, please contact careers.researchers@ucl.ac.uk

Working on resilience: What would the Victorians do?

Chloe JAckroyd15 March 2019

Black and white photo of Victorians in front of a brick house. Three rows with six young men at the back, three women and bearded man in the middle and three children at the front.

Written by Recruitment and Selection Advisor, Susanne Stoddart.

For many employers, resilience springs to mind not only as an invaluable soft skill but also as a skill that is underdeveloped in graduate workers. Indeed, in a recent QS report on The Global Skills Gap in the 21st Century resilience was identified by employers as the skill that graduates are lacking in most when compared with its perceived importance. Defined as an individual’s ability to overcome difficult experiences and adapt to new situations, resilience is required to solve problems and prosper in today’s fast-changing job market. Resilience is also needed in order to manage setbacks in the job hunt and application process before even setting foot in the workplace.

“There is, perhaps, no situation in life in which difficulties have not to be encountered and overcome before any decided measure of success can be achieved. Those difficulties are, however, our best instructors, as our mistakes often form our best experience.”

In 2019, there was an ever-growing collection of personal development books on the market promising to help readers build that bounce back mentality so sought after by employers and necessary for overall wellbeing. But this isn’t a new trend in popular psychology. Around 150 years ago Victorian advice manuals also had a lot to say about resilience and its relationship with success. The above quote is taken from the first ever personal development self-help book, published by Samuel Smiles in 1859 and aptly titled Self Help.

Here are four tips that Dr Smiles (in an advice manual called Character, 1871) and Edward Sisson (in The Essentials of Character, 1910) had to offer on developing the ability to overcome problems and adapt. The advice still has relevance today for anyone looking to enhance these vital work skills. It reminds us that resilience is a skill that can be developed by trying to adopt certain behaviours and attitudes.

  1. Be Optimistic
    For Edward Sisson, resilience involved developing a positive mindset or – in his words – ‘a more robust cheerfulness under the test of pain, loss, misadventure, disappointment’. Sisson wrote that ‘the cheerful man gets into the way of looking on the bright side… he gives preference in his attention to the pleasant, the encouraging, the desirable’. Living up to his name, Samuel Smiles also heavily prioritised a happy disposition when faced with challenges, highlighting that ‘cheerfulness is the first thing, cheerfulness is the second, and cheerfulness is the third’.
  1. Become a Lifelong Learner
    Sisson believed that adopting a mindset that was continuously open to learning opportunities encouraged ‘the sort of education that removes mountains and turns obstacles into stepping-stones’. This enabled an individual ‘to take charge of their own culture and career’. These words have considerable relevance in today’s fast-changing job market where roles such as app developer didn’t even exist ten years ago and workers need to constantly update their skills and competencies to help futureproof their career.
  1. Identify Goals
    For Sisson, having goals in life was vital for helping to put short-term difficulties into perspective, noting that ‘the forces of character flow most effectively into action only when they are rallied to the achievement of clearly conceived and firmly held purposes.’ Smiles agreed, expressing concern that without a future focus challenging times can force a person to become ‘like a body of stagnant water, instead of a running stream doing useful work and keeping the machinery of a district in motion’. Long before the popularisation of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goal setting, Sisson highlighted that a person ‘must not merely dream of strength, of wisdom, of skill and power’; they should take steps and ‘resolve to attain them’. They should hold themselves accountable for ‘pursuing and achieving, and be inspired and energized by the vision’.
  1. Make Connections
    Long before LinkedIn, Smiles recognised the importance of networking and building relationships that could provide a source of support and inspiration during periods of difficulty, uncertainty or exploration. Smiles advocated building connections with others in order to ‘learn not only from what they have enjoyed but – which is still more instructive – from what they have suffered’ on the road to success. Networks, Smiles continued, provide a means for ‘increasing our resources, strengthening our resolve and elevating our aims’. Alternatively, ‘an entirely new direction’ may come as a result of ‘a happy suggestion, a timely hint, or the kindly advice’.

 

Have the Victorians inspired you to start strengthening your resilience today? If so, why not begin by exploring the UCL Alumni Online Community? On this exclusive networking site, you can make connections with alumni from all over the world and even search for a mentor from the pool of experienced alumni working in a wide range of sectors.

Have you already identified any career goals that will help you stay on track or would you like some help investigating your ideas further? Remember, whether your aim is to explore your options, find opportunities to develop your skills and sector experience, or apply for a job, UCL Careers is here to help.

How to make the most of your summer

Joe SSprecher28 February 2019

Summer Internships Scheme

Internships are key to building experience as a student or recent graduate. Employers are much more likely to hire someone with internships and work experience, rather than someone with a generic resume, lacking experience. Many internship opportunities help set the foundation for your career. The summer is a perfect opportunity to focus on what needs doing and to gain that all important experience.

Here we explain the benefits of undertaking an internship and what you need to consider when building on your own brand, networking and online presence, along with the softer skill benefits it offers.

Undertaking an internship

You can gain a lot from doing an internship. From being able to develop common workplace skills such as team work and commercial awareness, to demonstrating work experience on your CV and making new connections with employers. You will be able to explore a field of work and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses to build your confidence, and understand how theory and research relate to practice in a work context.

Last, and not least, you will have an opportunity to earn money. Find a summer internship in our UCL Careers Summer Internship Scheme where you will be paid London Living Wage. Opportunities are live now until 24th March.  You can also browse other opportunities on myUCLCareers.

Creating a portfolio 

For some roles, especially in media, fashion and design, it’s important to have a portfolio of work to show employers at interviews. This could include photos, drawings, examples of writing or anything that demonstrates your creativity. You could use the summer to build an online portfolio in the form of a website then use the link on your CV or in future applications.

Have you connected?

If you have made some connections over the year, you can re-visit them. Leverage your network to identify people who are in your desired field or industry and set up an informational interview to learn more about your potential career path. Begin speaking with potential mentors, such as UCL Alumni and build relationships with existing mentors. This will put you in a strong position after you graduate and it will remind important people that you are both interested and interesting!

Building your online brand

Linked to networking your personal network is how the outside world sees you, including prospective employers. Sites like LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook can be powerful tools to let employers know who you are and what you can do.

Learning about you

The first step in making an informed decision about anything relating to your career is understanding yourself. If you don’t really know what you want or what you are good at then this can be really hard.

Use the summer to get to know yourself a bit better. Travelling, making new friends or learning new skills through online courses can be a really good way to bring out your strengths and help you find your passion. Don’t forget, you can always come into UCL Careers for a short guidance appointment with one of our Careers Consultants.

Find yourself an opportunity through the UCL Careers Summer Internships Scheme, or through the myUCLCareers vacancies tab. Deadline for applications for roles in the UCL Careers Summer Internships Scheme is Sunday 24th March.

Life and Health Sciences Themed Careers Week | 4th March 2019

Joe SSprecher26 February 2019

Life & Heath Sciences. 4th - 8th March 2019

We’re hosting a week of events to help you navigate the Life and Health Sciences Sector, and find out where you might fit within it.

What is the Life and Health Sciences Sector?

Well, it encompasses anything that aligns with Life and Health Sciences. That means it’s very wide-reaching – from drug development, patenting, marketing, and selling new therapies, to using interventions directly with patients, or communicating the latest developments in health science to policymakers and the public. That’s why we have four exciting panels lined up for you, where you can hear from people working in a variety of roles within the NHS, private companies, charities, and universities.

Our four evening forums are listed below:

Biology and Business – using scientific knowledge in a business context | 6-8pm Monday 4th March

Working for public and patient health outcomes | 6-8pm Tuesday 5th March

Careers in data science and lab research | 6-8pm Wednesday 6th March

Careers in science communication and science policy | 6-8pm Thursday 7th March

What will I learn from guest speakers?

Come along and listen to panellists describe their day-to-day work, their career journeys, and their top tips for anyone looking to enter the sector. Each panel event will also include a chance for you to ask questions at the end, both of the wider panel, and one-on-one with speakers. If you’re not sure how best to interact with alumni and guest speakers, we have a blog and a preparatory session to help you:

Making the most of Life and Health Sciences week – How to talk to industry professionals | 1-2pm Mon 4th March

How will I know if I’ll like a particular job?

Hearing first-hand accounts from people working in different roles can give you a clue as to whether you’ll like a job. But there’s no substitute for giving it a try yourself. And gaining experience helps you develop new skills, and tells future employers you’re clearly motivated.

That’s why we’ve organised opportunities for you to get a taster of two popular careers – Life Science Consulting and Medical Writing:

A Career in Medical Writing  – Experiential workshop by the European Medical Writing Association | 2-4pm Tuesday 5th March

Strategy Consulting in Healthcare and the Life Sciences – Experiential workshop by IQVIA | 2-5pm Wednesday 13th March

And if you’re ready to test something out on a longer term basis, why not search for Life and Health Sciences-related roles on our vacancies system? Below are just a few open for applications right now:

Medical Research Assistant – Owlstone Medical | Deadline – 16th March

Biotechnology or Biochemistry Associate Editor – CASTUS (India) | Deadline – 3rd March

Regulatory Sciences Associate – Southwood Research | Deadline 31st March

European Patent Examiners – European Patent Office (Germany/Netherlands) | Deadline 10th March

Medical Affairs Associate (one-year placement) – Bristol-Myers Squibb | Deadline 15th March

Erasmus+ funding available for EU internships

Chloe JAckroyd15 January 2019

Thinking of undertaking an internship in the EU this summer? Perhaps you’re looking for an opportunity or you’ve already secured one. Either way, you may be eligible to receive the Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant to help you with the costs associated with interning outside of the UK.

Last year Tanja Hann returned home to Germany to undertake an internship in a research institute. She told us more about the experience…

“The Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant allowed me to undertake an internship where I found out what real work in a research laboratory looks like. I have always wanted to become a research scientist, but never really had any actual experience with this. Of course, I also had occasional doubts – what if the job is not right for me? What if it is totally different from what I imagined? The internship definitely helped me to get a better impression of what type of career I want to pursue and erased any doubts I had about whether this path would be right for me.”

How did you find your internship?
The internship was not compulsory to my degree programme – it was fully up to me to decide where to apply. Sourcing the internship was more straightforward than I initially expected. I knew roughly what I wanted to do and what expectations I had and so I just started searching online. I quickly found a couple of research institutes that raised my interest and then proceeded to search for individual research groups. When I found the website of the laboratory I eventually worked with, I knew their work would be right for me – so I just contacted them and was lucky enough to receive a positive reply!

What did you do during your internship?
My internship took place in a research laboratory which is focussed on gene therapy. I was able to get involved in several ongoing projects, which was a really valuable aspect of my experience. One of the projects hadn’t yet reached the experimental stage and I was able to contribute to planning it from the very beginning. This involved reading many research papers on the topic and coming up with an overall project objective. This experience not only taught me how to be a scientist “behind the scenes”, but also gave me the opportunity to learn experimental procedures within another, larger project. The tasks I completed were typical for a cell and molecular genetics laboratory and involved cloning, Western analysis, qPCR, transfection of mammalian cells and even iPSC development.

Why did you choose to undertake an international internship?
The country in which my internship took place was not new to me – however, given the international background of the research institute I worked with, I came into contact with many different cultures at once. My co-workers and I often found ourselves discussing differences between languages, cuisines and even day-to-day habits. This not only taught me to look at things from a different perspective but was also a lot of fun!

What skills did you develop during the internship?
Naturally, working in a research laboratory for two months taught me a lot of experimental techniques relevant to my field of study, as well as the process of planning an advanced research project. However, I learnt so much more than that. During the internship, I wrote a scientific report on all of my accomplishments during the time – this was a really valuable experience and improved my scientific writing skills. On top of that, I believe that working with a variety of people in the laboratory really boosted my communication and teamwork skills, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Has the experience influenced your plans for the future?
The whole internship experience strengthened my desire to pursue a career path in this industry by giving me a much better impression on what this type of work actually involves. I feel like I am more prepared for life after university now and it all seems much less scary!

What tips do you have for other students thinking of doing an internship overseas?
My main tip for students considering going overseas would be: be open to everything. Your experience will (most) likely not be precisely what you imagined and it would be pretty boring if it were, right? You will learn so many things and gather valuable experience – for your studies, your career and your personal development. Another tip I would give to virtually anyone with high career aspirations is: do not be afraid to dream big! You will only have a chance to succeed if you are unafraid to try so do not let anyone, including yourself, tells you what you cannot do!

You don’t need to be doing an internship in a research institute to receive the Erasmus+ Traineeship Grant – all sectors are eligible! If you’d like to apply for the grant, have a look at the Funding page on the Global Internships Programme website to find out more.

Photo from Tanja Hann 

 

Your part in the Graduate Outcomes survey

Joe SSprecher10 July 2018

 

Graduate Outcomes

If you are about to graduate, or you’ve graduated over the past year, at a point in the not-too-distant future, you will be asked to take part in a government-backed survey called Graduate Outcomes. This replaces the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE for short).

Graduate Outcomes, like DLHE, asks about what you have gone on to do after your graduation and a range of other questions that will build up a picture of where graduates work and study, how much they typically earn and what industry sectors they prefer. Unlike DLHE, Graduate Outcomes will take place quite a long time after you graduate.

It’s a detailed survey that takes a little time to complete, but its results will be exceptionally useful to prospective students, universities and government agencies in understanding graduate career paths and the labour market.

Why are we telling you this?

We want to introduce the survey to you so you are aware that you will be asked to take part. You will receive a link to the survey by email, fifteen months after graduation, so if you have just completed your course, you’ll hear from the survey company in September 2019.

Why is the survey such a long time after graduation?

The time lag is to enable earnings data from the tax system to be linked to the survey results. Previously, earnings were declared by graduates themselves. In this way, the survey result will be more robust.

Respond to the survey

When the time comes, please respond to the email link or to the follow up phone call and complete the survey. The survey company will be persistent in calling, as response targets for Graduate Outcomes are high, so responding promptly will save the need for continuous calls.

Your career journey

Remember that as a UCL graduate you can still use UCL Careers support in finding work and progressing your career, for up to two years after you’ve finished your course. Take a look at our website for more information about our services for graduates

If you have any questions or would like further information please contact us on careers@ucl.ac.uk or visit the Graduate Outcomes website.

Top Tips for Application Forms from Skills4Work Panellists

Joe SSprecher11 May 2018

Sally Brown – UCL Careers Advisor

On the 3rd October, UCL Careers welcomed four speakers from different companies to speak to students about their application processes and to offer some ‘top tips’ about completing application forms. What was clear was that although every company has their own way of shortlisting candidates, some specific annoyances regarding poor applications were common to all recruiters.

Online application forms

All the panellists stated that their company asks you to fill in an online application form. They often ask for the same information that you will have on your CV – such as your academics and some personal details – but often in a format that suits the needs of the company. The representative from PwC was keen to highlight that due to the desire for social mobility, many companies (inc. PwC) do not ask for your work experience at this stage – understanding that some graduates may not have had the opportunity to undertake relevant or unpaid work experience/internships during their studies. So don’t worry if you feel your current work experience – such as bar work or retail – doesn’t directly relate to the industry you are applying to, they will be looking for a breadth of transferable skills they can build on.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Talk to people already doing the role you are interested in
  • Check whether it is the right ‘fit’ for you through researching the role and company thoroughly before applying.

Online: Motivation and Competency questions

Online questions regarding candidates’ motivation to apply to the company, their industry knowledge and basic common competencies (such as team-work) were common amongst the companies represented. It was also common that some candidates offered generalised responses that could be applied to any of their competitors.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Research! Research the role as well as the organisation.
  • Take your time – allow 1-2 weeks to fill in the in the application.
  • Research the industry to build up your commercial awareness – reflect upon how current issues may affect the company.
  • A ‘real human’ will read this – all the panellists agreed that their companies do not use software to filter candidates.

Video Applications

Yes the 21st century is here! Both the panellists from Unlocked and the Bank of England stated that they use video as part of the process. This is where you receive some written questions, get a few minutes to prepare your answer and then you are filmed saying your responses. These are reviewed later, as there is no one on the other side of the camera whilst you are speaking. The aim is to find out what you are like as a person and your communications skills.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Check what else is in view of the camera e.g. remove the picture of you and your friends at a Halloween party, lock up the cat etc.
  • Dress smartly
  • Find a quiet place, but not too quiet that you are inclined to whisper.
  • Try to look directly at the camera and not at the ‘thumbnail’ of you.
  • It is acceptable to jot down key points during the preparation time and refer to the paper during your answer – but avoid reading from the notes like a script.

Online testing:

Two of the panellists – from PwC and The Bank of England – stated that their company uses some online testing that may include numerical, inductive (sometimes called logical reasoning) or verbal reasoning tests, work style preference questionnaire, or a personality test.

Top tips from the panellists:

  • Don’t lie or second guess yourself on the latter two – they are there to help the company work out a ‘best fit’ for you regarding departments.

Five Top Tips for applications:

  1. Don’t copy and paste information off the website for your application.
  2. We know what we do – show us why it interests you and discuss how you would be a good asset.
  3. Take opportunities offered – reply to e-mails that offer you information, meetings or chats.
  4. Be specific to the firm you are applying to – show a genuine interest.
  5. Research! How can you show motivation about something you know little about?

 

Chloe JAckroyd1 March 2018

We had 15 organisations involved in International Development Week including governmental departments, charities, NGOs and private companies which shows the scope of opportunities which exist if you decide this is the sector for you.

Our week started with a panel discussion bringing together representatives from Care International, Department for International Development (DFID), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Oxfam, PwC and was chaired by Dr Priti Parikh, Programme Director for MSc in Engineering for International Development.

Our panellists working in diverse capacities from a humanitarian co-ordinator to a consultant shared their experience and insights to give students an insiders’ perspective of what to expect. Read Top Tips from Industry Experts on how to stand out.

Laying the foundation for an understanding of the sector, Dr Callum Leckie presented an overview of the types of roles available, qualifications required, and how and where to gain experience. We were joined at the event by UCL alumni who’ve worked at British Pakistan Trust, The Hummingbird Foundation, MSF, Plan International, Save the Children, Wateraid and The World Bank for informal networking to answer questions on a one to one basis.

Read Breaking into International Development and Working in International Development – Alumni Case Study.

The Week drew to a close by highlighting graduate schemes with DFID, Charityworks and Mott MacDonald who also offer internships. A consistent message throughout has been the importance of volunteering and this can be undertaken in the UK via Volunteering Service or overseas with VSO.

A student has summed up the Week: “It was directly focussed at our current stage in life as students and encouraged me to think about next steps. I have really enjoyed International Development Week and am looking forward to now seeking out more opportunities to find out more and get involved.”

 

Would you like to work in a museum?

Chloe JAckroyd14 November 2017

Picture1

Danielle Thom – Curator of Making at the Museum of London

It was never my original plan to be a curator. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, I’d spent much of my history degree faffing around with journalism internships and trying to make it in magazines. As it turned out, I was a terrible journalist, and thus spent my first year post-graduation trying to stay afloat in the Sea of What Do I Do Now. I signed up for an MPhil, trying to recapture the bits of university that had appealed to me – research, 18th century history, material culture – and was persuaded to switch to History of Art for the visual training it would offer. Lacking savings, a scholarship, or family funds, I spent the rest of the year working in a cold-calling office, saving up the commission I earned to pay my way through an MPhil.

My master’s degree, at the University of Birmingham, was invaluable for several reasons. It allowed me the opportunity to confirm, once and for all, where my interests lay. It gave me the chance to do in-depth research, at a level beyond that expected of undergraduates. And, crucially, there was an element of work experience embedded in the programme, which allowed me to work on a small exhibition in a voluntary capacity, co-curating a display of prints at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. At the end of the year, that experience turned out to be vital in getting me my next job, as a junior Curator with the National Army Museum, in Chelsea. I had wanted to stay on and do a PhD, but – again – funds were lacking. I figured that working in a museum was the best thing to do, and this job allowed me to live at home with my parents, save up money, and gain additional, important, experience in the field.

And that’s how I ended up at UCL, in part because my PhD supervisor there, Tom Gretton, was recommended to me by my MPhil tutor; and in part because I still needed to live at home to make ends meet. I worked part-time retail for the first year, squeezing in shifts around time in the library and archives. This isn’t intended to be a tale of woe – I’ve been extremely lucky – but it’s important to realise that the entry route into museum careers isn’t always plain sailing for those who lack economic and other forms of privilege. Finally, however, I managed to secure AHRC funding, which covered me for the remaining two years of the programme, and freed up my time so that I could take on additional volunteering, one afternoon per week.

Six months after finishing my doctoral thesis, in 18th century British print culture, I managed to secure a job on the Assistant Curator Development Programme at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was a bit of a culture shock, fresh from a PhD, full of self-importance and used to autonomous research – to suddenly be responsible for fairly mundane, even menial tasks, such as counting dead beetles (for pest control purposes) and shunting objects around on trollies – but it was as essential a part of my education as the PhD had been. I was assigned to the Sculpture department, which wasn’t then my area of expertise, but I figured that it was an opportunity to develop a new body of knowledge, and took advantage of the resources available to me. I’ve been working on a book manuscript, about an 18th century British sculptor, and was able to do a month-long curatorial fellowship at Yale University while researching that. I co-curated a pavilion at the Venice Biennale, as well as curating several smaller displays, and travelled all over Europe and the US as a courier for artworks. I also applied to, and was accepted for, the New Generation Thinker scheme, which is run jointly between the AHRC and BBC Radio 3, giving me the opportunity to make radio documentaries and appearances. I took advantage of every opportunity presented to me, although not all of those were easy projects, and sought things out rather than waiting for them to come looking for me. I’ve learned that in the museum world you can’t be shy about singing your own praises, as odd and obnoxious as it may feel to do so, because it’s rare that someone else will do it for you.

The assorted experiences which I’d gathered while working at the V&A enabled me to get my current job, as Curator of Making at the Museum of London. I’ve been in post for the last six months, and here I’m responsible for the historic decorative arts collections (such as jewellery, ceramics and sculpture), and also for developing collections and displays that reflect contemporary making in London today. I’m involved in the exciting redevelopment of the Museum of London, which is building an entire new museum at West Smithfield. I’m also still (!) working on my book manuscript, and occasionally make an appearance on the radio, continuing my 18th century researches while forming new networks in a less familiar field.