My name is Amy Reid and I am a postgraduate student studying for an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies. I chose the Institute of Cultural Practices Work Placement module because I was keen to gain experience in a work place environment as well as eager to test the skills that I had learnt in the first term of my MA. Initially, I found it extremely difficult to choose which of the placements I liked best because a large number of them appealed to me and also applied to the industry that I wish to build my career in. I was placed with University of Manchester History and Heritage, which is the University’s dedicated department for the conservation, engagement and research of its cultural heritage. I was very excited to hear that I would be working under the University Historian and Heritage Manager, James Hopkins, who is the only University Historian in the UK.
My role title was officially ‘Engagement Assistant’ but I soon found out that it encompassed a whole range of activities and tasks from throughout University History and Heritage. I began my placement at the beginning of November and luckily got to be involved in the University World War I commemoration event that was produced and managed by History and Heritage. Part of my role was to organise the guest list and seating plan for the guest speakers prior to the event, as well as oversee proceedings on the day.
A large part of my ongoing role as Engagement Assistant was the development of the University Heritage Tours project. When I began my placement, the tours were running once per month around the Oxford Road Campus and were led by the University Historian; my role was to oversee the growth of this project. A key aspect of this growth was the recruitment of a brand new team of University Heritage Guides. I am pleased to have seen this project through from writing the job descriptions, to the initial advertisement, to managing applications and finally the hiring and training of the new recruits.
As a small aspect of the total project, I was tasked with the creation of a University Heritage Guides Briefing Pack, a collection of information for our new recruits that would contain all of the information that they would need during their training. As a dual role to this assignment I was also asked to learn to deliver the tour myself; although this was a daunting prospect (I have never relished the idea of public speaking) I felt that it would benefit me greatly in the future by building my confidence and leadership skills. When creating the Briefing Pack, along with other recruitment tasks such as the job advertisement and job description, I used information that I had personally discovered and believed that the new recruits would find helpful and beneficial for their learning. The final Briefing Pack included a full tour script and map, general information on how to lead the tours, Health and Safety Procedures as well as HR documents and payment information. Even though this was just one part of a much larger project that I was involved in, I feel that the creation of this pack allowed me to learn about many different aspects of the recruitment and training process as well as teaching me to think ahead and recognise the needs of the employees. The new University Heritage Guide recruits have currently commenced their training and I am very proud to see them learning the ropes using information and guidance that I have created for them.