New profile on the Young Cultural Heritage Professionals series:
What was your motivation to enter the cultural heritage field? Was it your first option?
It was my first option. I had a wonderful supervisor/advisor during my BA that lead me down this path by asking me what I wanted to do with my future and then passing me a note with UNESCO and ICOMOS written on it. He then told me to research them. Once I realized the mission for UNESCO was almost verbatim what I had just said to my advisor. From that moment on I researched how to work within the system and worked my academic career around this.
How was/is your transition from studying to working?
It took me almost 5 or 6 years of networking and volunteering to finally get a job in the sector. It is not the easiest or very inclusive area of work. This is definitely what I try to focus on for the sector – getting rid of the need to have forced volunteering. As a single mother living in another country, it was extremely difficult for me to volunteer due to the need for childcare. Thankfully I think remote working from the pandemic has been a great equalizer in this regard. I also feel that academics is not regarded as well as it should be in the working sector as experience. It is not an easy transition to say the least.
How are you looking/looked for a job in heritage? And how do you experience/experienced the phase of search and application?
It took several CV’s, applications and interviews before being offered a job. I tried everything even remotely within the field or with the organizations that would lead me to the right positions before I finally ended up with my current position. It is a very difficult phase when looking for a job that can be demoralizing and deflating. I just kept telling myself that it just wasn’t meant to be and truly the right job will come along. It finally did!
What skills and competences do you notice are demanded the most in job offers?
Usually it is not explicit, but the need for volunteering. As stated previously, I find this exclusive and unnecessary. In job offers it usually shows up with asking for X number of years’ experience in Y. Learning to showcase your academic achievements as the years of experience is much needed, however not all employers see academia as experience and it must be argued otherwise.
Based on the profiles of job positions, do you notice skills or competences that your education didn’t provide you with?
The only thing not explicitly addressed that would have been useful is how to showcase the academic achievements in a CV or application as experience for work, as stated in the previously. Other than this I think my academic career has fully provided me the experience and knowledge to continue in my field.
How do you think young people can be attracted to work in heritage? Do you have proposals?
The best way is to engage with them during the difficult teenage years, but we also need to provide decent wages and stop the need for 5 year plus of experience. Their also needs to be a equal focus on the humanities and not just to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) by our governments and society. The two can work together closely and quite frankly go hand-in-hand as they do most notably in our Industrial Heritage as well as other areas.
How do you see the future of the cultural heritage field?
The future is dependent on how we can attract and change the volunteering perspective of the sector. We also need to be advocates in our local, regional, national and global spheres to overcome the perception that the cultural heritage sector is done heavily through volunteering. No other respectable sector rests so highly on volunteerism.