English Degree, English Teacher Right?
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17th Jun 2016

I’ve walked a fairly crooked path to get where I am today. When I took my A Levels, everything was pointing towards teaching. Well, at least that’s what my careers advisor told me. With a love of history, art and English, no one seemed to be able to come up with any career advice aside from heading back to school as a teacher. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but whilst I didn't know what I did want to be, I did know that it wasn’t a teacher.

My parents were really supportive, they pointed out that I loved English Literature, so why not spend three years studying it and building up some skills and life experience? So I did just that. I had a trio of blissful years at Newcastle University immersing myself in English ghost stories (yep, that was a real module) and the Romantics.

 

But graduation day came and went and I was still non the wiser. I’d worked part-time as a cashier for NatWest during my degree, but knew it wasn’t the career for me. In the end, I moved home and as luck would have it, I  got a job through a recruitment agency working at the Network Rail archive. I got to use the analytical skills I developed through my English degree and, it may sound odd, but I loved it! I had a year of fun, finally having a bit of money and working with a team of ten people my age who helped me to spend it.

 

I knew it wasn’t going to last forever though, and so I decided to start volunteering with the National Trust. I’d always loved visiting their properties, and working in the archive had reignited my love for history. I was paired up with a fantastic mentor, Patrick, who helped me to settle in and pointed me towards the major game changer in my life - getting a masters.

 

Patrick made me realise that working for the National Trust (or somewhere similar) could be a career for me. So off I trotted back to Newcastle to get my MA in Heritage Education and Interpretation. It was the big turning point in my career. Through the course I gained a wealth of new skills and knowledge, made friends in the sector and gained a two month paid placement at the British Library.

 

The rest as they say, is history. My placement led to a job at the British Library and ten years later I’ve just finished another big contract with them. Since graduating I’ve worked for several  national museums, the National Trust, English Heritage and smaller museums too. I’ve nearly frozen to death on Hadrian’s Wall in the depths of winter, and been scorched in the summer on the top of a castle wall. I’ve been a Project Manager, a New Audience's Officer, an Education Manager,  and on occasion, a child wrangler!

 

I’ve been very lucky in my career to have worked with a series of great mentors, and to have had a strong family to support me. It’s not all been plain sailing, and as with any career there have been ups and downs, challenging characters to contend with and the odd work-drought.The museums sector can be a funny fish, with a lot of people working on short term contracts of 9-24 months, but it suits me down to the ground.


As for my next challenge, I’ve got some stories to tell, some pirates to battle and some castles to defend. You’ll have to watch this space to find out more….