Celia Pullen case study

Global Challenge: Museum Victoria Intern, Melbourne, Australia
BA History and French Studies, 2014

Details of duties/ responsibilities/ activities

Primarily, Celia undertook research for the early conceptual development of the ‘Ten Pound Pom’ project, which focused on assisted and non-assisted post-World War II British migration to Australia. In particular she looked at themes running through the huge number of oral histories that had already been collected by Museum Victoria. She also assessed the museum’s existing collections relating to the project, as well as sourcing objects from other organisations that might be borrowed for the exhibition. She conducted research of her own into the topic to gain a deeper understanding of the historical context of the period and used the Emu database, as well as the MVWISE collection storage system. She states that, “I particularly enjoyed exploring new ways of collecting and presenting oral histories through researching models of ‘crowd-sourcing’, which will form a fundamental process in obtaining material for the final exhibition. I believe I achieved the learning objectives set out in my Student Agreement.”

Main achievements

Celia notes that, “in addition to more general research surrounding the topic of post-World War II British migration, as well as reviewing the existing oral histories that had been collected by the museum, I wanted to find a way to organise the information to find similarities and contrasts between experiences of migrants. I created ‘character profiles’ in order to draw some conclusions about the types of people that were migrating, the reasons behind their migration, their experiences on arrival and, in some cases, why they decided to return to the UK. I feel that this work provided a useful and different way of viewing and assessing existing information. I was also asked to focus on drawing out what migrants had documented about their sensory experiences of arriving in Australia. We found that what people had recorded about their first impressions, the sights, sounds and smells that they encountered, was really interesting information that would translate well into the exhibition. Writing a thematic narrative about the topic is also one of my main achievements, as it will be attached to any relevant objects on the museum’s Collections Online page, meaning that it needed to be a clear and informative piece of writing to give readers some basic contextual background for the object they are looking at.”

Most enjoyable part of the internship

Celia enjoyed the fact that the internship provided her with space to reflect on the direction in which she wanted to take her career. In addition to providing her with crucial employability skills and providing her with experience in highly competitive areas, she also enjoyed getting to know the people she was working with and asking them about how they got to where they were. This encouraged her to be more confident in her future applications; she observes that, “I have become aware of how passion and enthusiasm for a role can be just as important as the amount of work experience a person has under their belt. Overall, in addition to thoroughly enjoying delving into the project and being exposed to a number of different aspects of museum life, I have come back to the UK feeling positive and excited about my future career, and I feel this internship has given me the tools to get started.”

Skills developed

The main skills Celia developed during her internship were: research skills - being able to apply what she had learnt during her degree to a project; interpersonal skills; IT skills - learning to use the Emu collections database system. She also learned a lot about the financial considerations involved in planning a project. Her literary skills also developed, as she wrote a thematic narrative about post-World War II British migration to Australia, utilising her ability to write an informative and concise piece about a topic that she had researched. This also provided her with an opportunity to have her work viewed by the public, online.

How this will benefit me in the future

“Being able to add the Museum Victoria internship to my CV has already given me more confidence in sending off strong applications to potential jobs and internships. I have now identified a number of broad skills that can be further developed in any future roles, as well as more specific skills that should give me an edge over applicants who have not benefitted from such an experience. The internship has encouraged me to seek out similar opportunities within the context of an art gallery so that I can compare which environment is for me. Hopefully in gaining as much experience as I can in a variety of organisations I can present a more well-rounded set of skills that future employers will find attractive.

Overall, the internship has consolidated the area in which I want to explore a career and I was given a lot of advice about how to get a foot in the door. Committing time in plenty of volunteer work, keeping an open-mind and remaining enthusiastic about a bright future in museums and galleries, despite the many challenges that may arise in such a competitive industry, is something that I have been inspired to take on.”


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