Category Archives: Art History and Visual Culture

Student Case Study: University of Exeter

Name of Student:  Katie Smith

Degree Subject:  BA CH Art History and Visual Culture with English

Job Title: GBP 5063 Education Support Assistant

Company Name:  University of Exeter

Type of Internship:  Graduate Business Partnership (GBP)

What were your key duties and responsibilities during your internship?

  • Providing first-line enquiry and standard transaction education support service for students and academic teaching staff, and high-quality general administration support as required for Humanities programmes
  • Communicating with students, staff and members of the public over a broad range of enquiries and issues in a clear, professional and friendly manner via email, phone and face-to-face interactions
  • Training and understanding of a variety of general programmes and specialised database systems, with a high level of competency in Microsoft Office
  • Responsible for a number of key administrative processes within the subjects of English and Film, such as processing assessments and allocating modules, all of which required management of large databases, problem solving and attention to detail, both during the initial processing and subsequent checks.
  • Working closely with the student welfare team to process sensitive and confidential information in an appropriate manner for students with a variety of mental or physical disabilities
  • Improving the efficiency of other team members and tasks through devising clear, systematic methodologies and creating simple ‘How to’ documents, as well as continuously committing to internal training sessions

What outputs and outcomes did you deliver for your employer?  

Outputs = On a daily basis I would produce clear answers to student enquiries. Behind the scenes, I also produced ‘How to’ documents for internal use within my team, which helped to improve understanding of key processes and programmes. These were also beneficial for new starters. I also produced numerous reports for key members of staff, such as personal tutor allocations and module allocations.

Outcomes = I have had really positive feedback from within my team and have been given an above and beyond award for my hard work. The administrator I assist has also been able to focus on more important and complex tasks as they have trusted me to be able to take care of processes independently. In what has been a very tough year our team has been able to maintain efficiency, and I believe that is in part due to my efficient working and assistance.

What was your biggest achievement on your internship?

My biggest achievement was successfully allocating modules to all 2nd and 3rd year students on English and Film programmes. My administrator and line manager were both on annual leave, which meant that I was left responsible for the entire process, which I had not completed before. This process included harvesting the data of module selections from over 300 students, going through each student and creating a spreadsheet of potential module numbers, meeting with the Director of Education with our department to discuss these and which modules needed to be capped. I then needed to go through each individual student and allocate modules to them based on their rankings, as well as specific programme rules, ensuring terms were balanced and that they had the right number of credits. Many of the students had issues with their selections, and so I had to get in touch with them to explain the problems and provide solutions. Once all allocations were made, I then needed to open the record of each student on our specialised database programme SITS and add in/remove the modules they had been allocated. I also had regular assistant tasks to complete such as answering the phone and general enquiries. To achieve all of this, I ensured that I had all the information organised beforehand and set myself smaller more achievable goals throughout the week. As a result of this hard work, I was able to complete all of the above within the 5 days that my managers were away. Upon their return they were extremely impressed with how much I have been able to achieve. I would say this is my biggest achievement because I was really proud of my work ethic and how I was able to work so well under pressure.

What did not go so well on your internship? How did you overcome any challenges?

It was challenging to start the position remotely, and this has meant that over 1 year on there are still members of my team I have never met in person. However, I think this has really improved my computer skills and communication. I have found it a challenge to provide customer service over the phone, however as this is a task required on a daily basis, I have pushed through and I think my confidence has definitely improved.

Skills Learnt: 

  • Ability to Work Under Pressure
  • Organisation
  • Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Decision Making

Attributes Developed:

  • Logical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Independence
  • Work Ethic
  • Professionalism

Your message to other students considering a similar job role, organisation or sector?

“My internship experience has been really positive, and has been a great way for me to get a full time role in a real position without feeling out of my depth. Most administrative positions advertised require previous office experience, so completing this internship has given me a whole host of useful experience to take forward into my career.”

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum – Student Case Study 

 

What were your key responsibilities during your internship?  

My key duties included gathering research and data to assist the curator with his plans to bid for funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund (NLHF) as part of his aim to expand and redevelop the museum. I analysed and presented this data using a range of software, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This also informed my participation in several staff meetings where I was able to gain insight and contribute my own ideas based on my findings. Specifically, I looked at academics and researchers who had used the museum’s collections to inform their publications/projects since 2017 in order to update the BDC’s database, demonstrating the value of the museum as a resource.  

As well as this, I looked at various other university museums such as, film museums within and outside of Europe to see how they function to engage the community and meet the NLHF’s broader requirements of creative projects, and to see how their strategies could influence the BDC’s future aims. Other key duties included preparing and presenting a talk to a U3A group (roughly 20 visitors) on pre-cinema in the museum’s lower gallery, which was received with much enthusiasm, and assisting the curator with a display for Campus Cinema’s 70th anniversary party, which was also hosted in the museum’s lower gallery. 

 

What was your biggest achievement on your internship? 

My biggest achievement during the internship was using my initiative to map the curator’s annual museum reports 2015-2019 to the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Strategic Funding Framework key requirements of heritage projects (2019-2024). After producing a range of documents for the curator, I decided to tie up this research by presenting the data in a way which directly linked the museum’s existing/past initiatives to the NLHF’s in a way which was visually clear and focused, and which the curator could refer to when writing up his proposal for the funding bid. As commented on by the curator himself, this piece of work demonstrated my analytical skills and ability to use my initiative, under the guidance of the curator, to contribute my own unique strengths and ideas without simply waiting for the next task to be assigned. The documents produced will inform (in part) the curator’s next steps in the museum’s redevelopment. 

 

Summary of your internship experience. 

I honestly could not fault this experience whatsoever. I was lucky enough to have already been volunteering at the Bill Dougla Cinema Musuem on campus since September, and since I am passionate about working within Arts, Culture and Heritage, and having already built up a relationship with the curator, Phil Wickham, I knew that it was the ideal place for me to undertake a four-week internship. Before the internship started, Phil asked me what specific skills I wanted to develop while offering me the opportunity to assist him with the gathering of research and data to support his plans to bid for funds to expand the museum. Having undertaken the relevant module Creative Industries: Their Past, Our Future, as part of my English BA course, I was able to combine my academic studies with real-world practical experience, proving the value of the internship in this way. Further, Phil allowed me to use my initiative and offer my own suggestions in relation to the museum’s redevelopment project, which allowed me to feel like a real part of the team, while allowing me to demonstrate my ability to think creatively and intuitively rather than simply wait for instructions. I am eternally grateful for the encouragement that I received throughout the four weeks, with Phil allowing me to contribute to a variety of staff discussions with my research, as well as pushing me out of my comfort zone by asking me to deliver a short talk to a group of museum visitors in my second week. Though I was petrified, I managed to deliver the talk with a confidence that I did not believe that I had, and Phil is to thank for encouraging me to do something which he knew that I generally struggle with while being supportive throughout.  

 

Would you recommend doing an internship, and why? 

This internship confirmed to me that I have chosen a career path that I am well-suited to. I was excited to go into work every morning, and really did feel like a valued part of the team. Having vowed to never study again following the completion of my dissertation days before the internship started, the experience has made me so passionate to continue working toward an ambitious future career within the creative industries, and I feel so lucky to be able to say that I received an offer from the University of Exeter to undertake an MA in September in Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy. I am so thankful for this invaluable experience, and would recommend it to anyone. Thank you to the University of Exeter and Phil Wickham for an unforgettable experience. 

Beaford Arts – Employer Case Study

Name of Organisation:  Beaford Arts

Description of Organisation: Beaford is a network of people who come together to create unique events and projects in North Devon. We have a small core team of staff who work with a huge team of volunteers – from our Community. We connect artists and communities with North Devon finding entertaining and extraordinary ways to explore our land, lives and future.

Name of Employer:  Emma Down

Job Title: Hidden Histories Project Archivist

Internship Scheme used:  A2I

Employer subsidies (A2I) – Employment Services – University of Exeter

Feedback:

We recruited an intern as an Archive Assistant. She cross-referenced four card indexes with an online catalogue to add data to an Excel catalogue of historic photographs. Having our intern meant that all four indexes could be compared. Without this help there would only have been resourcing to cross-reference one or two indexes.

She responded well to problems with the tasks such as duplications of records or conflicting information by researching the content of the images and asked for help when needed.

This is the third time I have recruited interns through the Access to Internships scheme. All the students have been exceptional; throwing themselves into the tasks given to them with enthusiasm and a willingness to learn new skills. They have all produced work to a high standard and have been a pleasure to work with. It’s a privilege to work with such talented young people and help them on their career paths.

 

 

 

Volunteer Opportunities Officer – Wheal Martyn

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

My role for the week was to create four volunteer role profiles. In order to do this I had to speak to people including: the Museum Manager, Curator, Exhibition and Engagement Officer and the Project Manager to inform these roles. I also created promotional material for the new volunteer roles and amended existing application and induction forms to make them suitable.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

Over the course of my internship I had to arrange meetings with a variety of people both face to face and over the telephone so my biggest achievement was gaining the confidence to talk to these new people in order to complete my work. I think this will be an advantage in any internships or jobs I have in the future as I will have the confidence to speak to a range of people.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

Wheal Martyn have recently been awarded a funding by the Heritage Lottery for a new project called the Clay Works! Project. Due to this, there are many new opportunities for volunteers which need to be communicated to the public. The creation of volunteer role profiles and promotional material will be helpful to Wheal Martyn as these materials will enable the museum to recruit a diverse range of people to become volunteers. Creating these materials can be time consuming and the office is very busy due to the commencement of this new project so the work completed during my internship will help to lighten a small part of the workload the museum currently has.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Communication, research, networking

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Confidence, perseverance, professionalism

 

Archive Assistant – Beaford Arts

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

My main roles during my internship were: repackaging Roger Deakin’s photographs that were taken in the 1970s, listing those photos and labelling them, listing oral history interviews, researching those in the interviews using ancestry and find my past, cataloguing photos by James Ravilious ready for it to go up on the website, using EXCEL to list and catalogue photographs and learning archivist skills, techniques and conservation techniques.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

I learnt loads of new skills that increase my employability. I also explored a new career, one I never would have considered and completed all tasks independently and to a high standard.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I was able to assist with the wider ‘Hidden History’ project, decreasing the workload of the archivist and helping the project to keep to its time schedule. I also helped to sort, label and list all the photographs which will make searching and researching of the photographs much easier.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Communication, leadership, IT

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Commercial awareness, motivation, work ethic

Curation Intern – University of Exeter College of Social Sciences and International Studies

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

I was responsible for cataloguing artefacts and putting them on the museum database, preparing history files for some objects and sorting out the store. It was crucial to prepare the collection for the opening of the museum in 2020. My work mostly focused on Roman, medieval and Elizabethan coins as well as some pottery pieces from Devon area. Cataloguing them required me to find information not only about history of the object but also funding, acquisition, rights field collection etc.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

I managed to complete all initially planned tasks ahead of time so I had time to help further. I also gained sector specific knowledge as well as historical one, which I was not aware of before.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I helped to sort the stores and lightened the workload of the curator, who was relieved to focus on other important tasks. I also made it easier to move around the stores.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Problem solving, organisation, research

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Logical thinking, independence, professionalism

Student Researcher – University of Exeter Education Incubator

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

  • Offering administrative support to three Chinese fellows on MOOC course on contemporary Chinese culture
  • Planning and drafting a social media campaign
  • Proofreading and editing of English texts written by non-native speakers, and adapting these to an online context
  • Recruiting student and non-student volunteers for the trial version of the course

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

The independent nature of the role meant that I was able to really strengthen my skills in taking the initiative and working autonomously and independently.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

Administrative support, lightening my colleagues’ workload, and ensuring that all course content and materials were adapting and appropriate for an English-language audience.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Communication, leadership, decision making

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Initiative, perseverance, independence

Research Assistant – University of Exeter Modern Languages

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

In this internship, I conducted research for the Russian Department on how Russian is taught at every other university in the UK, so the department could analyse the data to ensure the course at Exeter is of the best possible quality. I also conducted similar research for the Chinese, Portuguese and Italian departments. In addition to this research, I also created two documents – a resources guide for students on their Year Abroad and also a ‘Survival Guide’ for the incoming Beginner’s Russian cohort.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

I have never worked in an office environment before and by working in academia I learnt a lot about teaching and research, and the entire ‘behind the scenes’ of an academic’s life.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

The research and Year Abroad document were tasks that the department had wanted to do for a long time, but did not have the manpower or hours to complete. By completing these tasks, I lightened the work load of the department and hopefully provided plenty of data through my research than can be used to make improvements in the future.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Teamwork and collaboration, problem solving, negotiation

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Motivation, personal awareness, work ethic

Archive Assistant – Unfinished Histories

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

Assisting in the cataloguing of the Inter-Action Archive, sorting through new documents for relevant material, helping set up a Facebook page for the project, and transcribing interviews with key members of Inter-Action.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

Being able to make practical use of my research skills in a professional environment – rather than using it to write essays I actually got to use my research and analytical skills to analyse key documents and organise documents accordingly.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

The main benefit was probably helping them get through archival material and organise them accordingly which in turn allowed them to search through other garages to collect more documents. Also, I helped in establishing a Facebook page which will make it easier to post updates on the project as well as getting in contact with people who were part of the Inter-Action community group.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Communication, focus on goals and outcomes, IT

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Confidence, initiative, motivation

Museum Assistant – Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

What were your main roles and responsibilities during the course of your internship?

My main responsibilities included cataloguing museum exhibition objects, researching museum objects, and updating the database. The cataloguing and research generally centered on the current Ritual Magic exhibition called ‘Dew of Heaven’. The bulk of the cataloguing material included a donation of various 20th century occult materials, which required further research using the museum library and the internet, and making links to other objects in the museum’s collections. Another main task involved scanning in object labels made by the museum’s founder and matching them with their corresponding objects where possible. Some of my minor tasks also included setting the museum up in the morning – sweeping and lighting incense, as well as operating the till.

What would you say was your biggest achievement over the course of your internship?

My biggest achievement over the course of my internship included using my research skills to uncover information about the members of the late 19th and early 20th century occultist Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Various sources revealed fascinating and enlightening information about the order’s then-secret members. This task was a part of the cataloguing project that was one of my responsibilities, which I successfully completed by the end of my internship, which I then outlined in a blog post on the museum’s website.

What benefits did your internship bring to your employer?

I was able to finish a whole box file of labels which needed scanning and cataloguing on the online database, and I helped with research regarding the cataloguing project which lightened the workload of my colleagues and ensured that anyone seeking information about the objects would find a comprehensive description of them with links to related objects at the museum, as well as the sources that could provide further data.

What skills were you able to develop through the internship?

Teamwork and collaboration, customer service, focus on goals and outcomes

What attributes were you able to develop through the internship?

Initiative, independence, work ethic, professionalism