Meet the Young Cultural Heritage Professionals – Interview with Inês de Carvalho Costa

Meet the Young Cultural Heritage Professionals – Interview with Inês de Carvalho Costa

Young cultural heritage professionals
CHARTER is teaming up with Heritageeks, a group of motivated young cultural heritage professionals, to discuss and learn more about the perspectives of the new generation of heritage professionals as they enter the sector and take their first professional steps. To start this new series, Inês de Carvalho Costa, a researcher focused on the link between human rights and heritage, takes the floor to share her views.

Young cultural heritage professionals

What was your motivation to enter the cultural heritage field? Was it your first option?

I progressively transitioned from Theater to Art History, and only after to Heritage Studies. I did the first year of a bachelor’s degree in Acting. However, I realized that I wanted to do something different. So I decided to start a bachelor’s degree in Art History, which developed into a master’s degree in Visual Culture and Heritage. Although I felt afraid of Heritage’s political nature, and the social responsibilities associated with it, I ended up accepting the challenge. Now I am researching the interlinkages between Human Rights and Cultural Heritage.


How was/is your transition from studying to working?

During my master’s degree, I worked in a historical bookshop considered a monument of public interest in my home country. Due to Covid-19, I had to look for other jobs outside the heritage sector. To escape the precariousness and instability of the field, I ended up opting to do research, at least temporarily.


How are you looking/looked for a job in heritage?  And how do you experience/experienced the phase of search and application?

I tried different things at the same time. I sent CVs directly to cultural institutions, heritage sites, and human resources companies; applied for public vacancies and research grants, and even started writing freelancing proposals. All of this while still studying or working in a clothes shop. It took me almost a year, but I finally got my scholarship.


What skills and competences do you notice are demanded the most in job offers?

Generally, we are expected to speak different idioms and have at least a master’s degree and several years of practical experience. Besides, most of the time, we need to multitask, have multiple jobs, and do continuous training courses.


Based on the profiles of job positions, do you notice skills or competences that your education didn’t provide you with?

Even though my education provided me with several practical experiences, some skills and competencies could be further developed, like conflict mediation, diplomatic communication, heritage management, or digital capacity.


How do you think young people can be attracted to work in heritage? Do you have proposals?

First, we must admit the problems of accessibility faced by young heritage professionals within the field and identify which practices can be changed to counteract them. How can we start paying our interns? Can we make partnerships with local governments and/or private companies to share the costs and benefits of their work? Are we capable of increasing the scope of action of young professionals within our organizations? For example, by creating programs of knowledge transference, by (truly) including them in decision-making, or by duly quoting their contributions?! We have a long way to go, but we can start small, for example, by assuring our own institutions have an ethical approach regarding this matter.


How do you see the future of the cultural heritage field?

I have doubts about the sector’s sustainability, at least in my country. Still, I feel that there is a new generation ready to work to safeguard heritage and make it more socially engaged. In this sense, I believe we are heading in the right direction. Returning to the roots, to the principles of social inclusion and peace-building. We are now trying to protect heritage not (only) for its sake but on behalf of society.


About Heritageeks

HeritageeksHeritaGeeks is a group of close friends who met during the 2021 ILUCIDARE Summer School in Poland and who have been since trying to navigate the heritage sector together. Group members hold a critical perspective on heritage, while at the same time trying to uncover its assets for tackling diverse contemporary challenges and its power in bringing people together to act accordingly. In this sense, the group looks to the present and the future as much as it looks to the past. The overarching goal for their 2023 activities is to emphasize the way young professionals enter and get along in the heritage sector.
Learn more here!

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