Maeve Scally, final year student from the Department of History, has secured a place on an M. Phil in Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College Dublin. She attributes some of her success to her experience on the Professional Skills module, which is an optional module for second-year History, CAHA and English & Creative Writing students. Here she writes about her experience…

“During my second year of undergraduate history at the University of Birmingham I took the opportunity to participate in a work placement scheme offered by the History department, aimed at giving students professional experience in the heritage industry. I was placed at the Voices of War and Peace: The Great War and its legacy First World War Engagement Centre which was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It seeks to connect academic and public histories by running and supporting community engagement activities as part of the commemoration of the War’s centenary.

My placement was based at the Library of Birmingham which meant that I was lucky enough to work at the largest public library in the UK and the largest regional library in Europe. I worked in the main archive office and was therefore able to observe people in lots of different positions and find out how the archives are run from behind the scenes. Using the British Newspaper Archive, I curated my own online exhibition called ‘On This Day’. The project ran throughout 2016, republishing articles 100 years to the day that they were originally published, allowing the public to see what happened in Birmingham day to day in 1916.

Being able to demonstrate that I gained significant work experience over the course of my degree has been incredibly beneficial. Furthermore, the skills that I developed as a result of my placement aided me in the duration of my degree such as primary source analysis and transcription. As I greatly enjoyed my placement, and had an understanding of what working in the heritage industry consists of, I decided to pursue an M. Phil in Public History and Cultural Heritage at Trinity College Dublin. I am in no doubt that my experience on the work placement helped me to secure a place on the course. My time working on the professional skills module was definitely a highlight of my time here at Birmingham.”