Monthly Archives: September 2020

Heritage Internship #2: a student’s perspective

In the second blog about the Heritage Internships we hosted over the summer, student Kate Debling reflects on her experience…

During the summer, I undertook an internship with the University of Exeter Culture and Heritage Innovation Team as part of the Pathways internship programme. As a digital content creator for the Exeter Heritage website, I created news and blog content pertaining to heritage-based academic research and projects led in the South West.

The University of Exeter Culture Team seeks to protect heritage through continuous academic research and projects, led by both the University of Exeter and Heritage Exeter’s partners. Throughout my internship experience, there was a strong focus on building connections between the university and external heritage bodies, as well as the collaboration between university campuses. The projects and research that I covered were broad, operating on a campus-based level, through collaboration with the Penryn campus, a national level, with heritage bodies such as South West Heritage Trust, and also an international level, with the European Commission.

The variety of content that I was creating emphasised the extent of the Culture Team’s Heritage network and, as an English undergraduate, experimenting with both news articles and blog posts meant that I had the freedom to find creative ways to convey the work. The experience not only enlightened me to new written mediums, a break away from the academic essay, but also exposed me to current research endeavours pertaining to my own undergraduate degree.

Being able to work effectively from home, creating my own timetable and collaborating with my internship supervisors digitally, were all new skills that I gained as part of my internship with the Culture Team. In order to create quality content, and cover as many new projects as possible, it was integral to be able to gather information, follow up stories and write efficiently. Through this I was able to improve upon my time management skills. Having a flexible work approach, as well as open communication channels between myself and my supervisors, meant that collaboration was smooth, and we were able to meet targets.

My internship experience with the Culture Team taught me some invaluable collaborative, management and creative skills and I would, therefore, strongly encourage students to participate in the Pathways internship scheme.

Heritage Internship: a student’s perspective

Over the summer – in lockdown – student Frank Allen worked with the Heritage team in IIB as part of the Pathways to Arts, Culture & Heritage internship programme…

At the tender age of eight, I fondly remembered visiting Lichfield Cathedral. I was awe-struck by it. The Cathedral’s imposing spires, majestic arches, and grand scale captured my imagination. Lichfield Cathedral and the towns around it have always held a lot of sentimental value for me, being a place where my grandparents call home.  However, it was only recently that I started thinking about the significance of the Cathedral, and Lichfield’s heritage, to the wider community. From thereon, heritage took on a whole different dimension for me.

Therefore, when I saw the opportunity to work for the University of Exeter’s heritage team as a website content developer, I immediately applied. I was asked to produce articles and blog pieces for the University’s Heritage website with my colleague, Kate, whilst also suggesting upgrades for the website and tweets to write. With only a brief knowledge of Devon and Cornwall’s heritage, and of the work that the University was doing to study it, I was excited to begin the role and learn more.

The research assistants, Gilda and Eloise, guided me towards some captivating projects. Their research ranged counties and specialities, considering both natural and man-made heritage and its effects on communities, policies, and even animals! My task was to synthesise these insights into four enthralling pieces of writing for a wider audience, which would then have to be publicised.

I started with the news articles. Consisting of only a few hundred words, I scoured my research reports for recent events that took my interest. Using a few examples on the Heritage website as my guide, I was excited to discuss Professor DeSilvey’s project, which would investigate strategies into heritage loss and conservation. I was also eager to talk about Dr Naomi Sykes’ new research into why we love to feed animals, using heritage sites as a testing ground. This followed on nicely from Dr Brazier and Puttock’s research into Eurasian beavers on Holnicote estate.

Moving onto the blog articles, two themes across the heritage sector caught my attention: climate change and the debate around the loss of heritage. Touching upon artistic projects and a bid involving University of Exeter professors, I highlighted how important the consideration of Climate Change was in heritage conservation in the future. However, does this heritage even need to be conserved in the first place? In her book ‘Curated Decay’, Professor DeSilvey suggests that we should allow nature to take its course. This discussion around heritage conservation informed my second blog post. A common thread through these themes, though, was an ethical discussion of what heritage meant to a community. This captivated me the most, reminding me of how I became interested in my own heritage to begin with.

I found the work with the Culture Team’s heritage sector challenging, but at the same time incredibly thought-provoking and rewarding. Time-management was key. Kate and I managed to produce a schedule for the week, dividing each day into achievable objectives. This skill was very useful in creating the Heritage website’s twitter timeline as well. However, this would not have been possible without strong teamwork and communication. Meetings and emails with both my team and the professors I wrote about were integral to producing high-quality pieces of writing. In the end, I built some strong connections whilst also deepening my love of the heritage sector through my writing.

The role of website content developer equipped me with some invaluable skills whilst I pursued a field that I would love to work in again in the future. I could not recommend the role enough to anyone keen on finding out more about heritage and what it means for them and their community.