Students going into their second year of a history degree are offered the option to take a Professional Skills Module, allowing them to complete a professional work placement as part of their degree. This blog post is written by a second year History student – Thomas Wood- as he comes to the end of his placement at Birmingham Museums Trust. 

The Professional Skills Module was instantly attractive to me as it offered me a great opportunity to experience work in heritage and build on my CV. This was a unique way to get work experience while doing my degree and has allowed me to be part of a really interesting project in the heritage industry.

My placement has been with Birmingham Museums Trust where I have been involved in the Museum Association’s Transformers project, which is all about radical change in museums. I have been leading and conducting the research for the project which has involved directing a research consultant to create a survey which I have conducted both online and on the streets of Birmingham. This has allowed me to experience both an office environment and engagement with the general public as well as an in-depth look at museum culture.

My supervisor has been a treat to work with and the staff at BMT has given me every opportunity to explore and experience what they do as a charity. I have had the opportunity to be involved in Equality and Diversity training at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, have attended private views of new galleries and I have also appeared in filmed material for the Museum Association that will be used internally to promote the Transformers project within the museums industry.

I am currently compiling all of my research into a report that will be published by the Museums Association. Already my data is being considered to inform policy decisions of Birmingham Museums Trust’s volunteering program that has already resulted in a large targeted leafleting campaign, the creation of new promotional materials and a new push for volunteers on social media. It is really exciting to have made an impact in the organization I have been volunteering at and I look forward to seeing how the Museums Association receives my work.

This module has been a radical departure from the rest of my degree; allowing me to engage in practical experience rather than solely academic work. It has been a nice change of pace that has added more variety to my degree programme whilst being great for my CV and overall career building whilst being at university.

Over the past few months this module has helped me to develop a new understanding of how heritage works and I have built great links and friendships in the sector. I would really recommend this module to anyone who wants to improve their employability, do something different with their degree and experience some really engaging work placements with transformative results.