What’s it like to be a museum apprentice?

 25 July 2014

Seven young people talk about their experiences of doing apprenticeships at museums within the Cumbria Museum Consortium (CMC).

Katherine Wilkinson, Tullie House

"I decided it was a really good idea to do a job and learn at the same time. Because I've spent a bit of time at university but I do enjoy working better."

Gemma Walshaw, Lakeland Arts

"As well as attending college you're also working and learning and earning at the same time."

Dan McAulay, Tullie House

"Especially if you're not 100 per cent sure what course you want to go on, I think an apprenticeship is the right direction because you get transferable skills. You can then decide your career as you're going along, which is the way I see it. And that's why I picked an apprenticeship at Tullie House."

Molly Calvely, Wordsworth Trust

"I think that apprenticeships are a good way of getting into museum work without having a degree."

Gemma Walshaw

"There's Tullie House and Dove Cottage and then I'm in another part of the organisation which is called Lakeland Arts. There's Blackwell, Abbot Hall and Windermere Steamboat Museum."

Callum Harrison, Wordsworth Trust

"When I first came here I didn't really know anything about Wordsworth or the family."

Cameron Stewart, Wordsworth Trust

"It was quite daunting because there's a lot to take on. You've got the cottage, the museum and the shop as well."

Anna Nixon, Tullie House

"You can have up to 15 people on your tour and you just go through each of the rooms giving the history of the house and how it relates to Wordsworth."

Dan McAulay

"Some of the tasks that I have to do includes press clippings, just going through the papers to see if there's any mention of Tullie House." 

Gemma Walshaw

"I have to check all the back statements as well to ensure that all the suppliers are paid on time."

Cameron Stewart

"I might spend some time in the shop selling tickets. I'll be the first port of call for customers, so it's important that I give out the right information."

Anna Nixon

"I was given the task of project managing our murder mystery night here at Tullie House, so it was quite a big responsibility."

Molly Calvely

"My confidence is growing. By doing public tours my public speaking skills have progressed. Also my admin skills have been developed as you are also working behind the scenes doing filing and doing paperwork and taking minutes." 

Anna Nixon

"My communication skills have greatly improved for calls and I now answer external calls and I've just learned to basically get on with it." 

Katherine Wilkinson

"I've been involved in 'Monday Alternative', which is the cinema night we have here. Thursday talks, lunchtime lectures, celebration events – all sorts."

Anna Nixon

"I've given presentations at our staff meeting to the Cumbrian Museum Consortium group. It just doesn't faze me at all now."

Dan McAulay

"After working here I've definitely decided to have a career in business admin or marketing, that kind of area. When I started here I wasn't quite sure what to do. 

"Quite recently we did a business admin challenge. It was a lot of work to go in – pressure deadlines and things like that. We ended up winning the challenge, so that was really good." 

Gemma Walshaw

"At the moment I'm doing level two AAT at Kendal College and then I'm hoping to do level three and four. Then there's two more exams and then you can have your own accountancy firm, so I'm hoping to do that – aim high". 

Anna Nixon

"I've got about three months left of the apprenticeship. I'll be really sad to leave. I love doing the job. It's a bonus that you get a qualification out of it as well." 

If you work for a museum in England, you can apply for funding to help you take on an apprentice or paid intern through the Creative Employment Programme.