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Alice Turnbull
I knew that this course would give me the skills and opportunities to do something different and something that wasn’t traditional within the heritage sector

More about Alice

Current Job Title: National Trust, Record Project Co-ordinator for the London and South East Region

Tell us why you chose to study at NTU.

“I first applied to NTU for my undergraduate degree (History and English) and it was my first choice for Universities.  Not only could I tailor the course around my interests, when I came for the open day I realised that no University could top it. The campus was very open and friendly and the students genuinely seemed to enjoy studying there. I decided to stay on at NTU for my MA for those exact reasons, I already knew the area, the campus and some of my friends were staying on for another year.”

What were the key features that attracted you to your course and the University in general?

“The key features that attracted me to the MA course were the different types of projects we would have to engage with. I knew that this course would give me the skills and opportunities to do something different and something that wasn’t traditional within the heritage sector, as a result I was able to create a colouring book, posters, postcards and a film.”

Is there anything that stood out on your course, that wasn’t offered anywhere else you applied?

“The thing that stood out the most on this course, was the amount of outside organisations we would come in contact with, whether that be directly working with them, cleaning clocks for the British Horological Institute, or assessing a museum and how it compares to the Museum Accreditation Standards. The other aspect that drew me to this course was the fact that there was the opportunity to go on an international field trip to Berlin.”

Did you go on any kind of work placement?  If so, what did you do?

“My first work placement was in my second year of undergrad, as I took the module ‘Humanities at Work’. I did a week placement at the National Archives, looking at historical documents, transporting them around the repositories and learning how to correctly handle delicate objects. It was a great opportunity and really emphasised my love for museums, heritage and history.  Without this placement, I do not think I would have been so set and secure on my chosen career path.

My second placement was during my MA degree where I was able to travel, live and work in Saint Lucia for the Saint Lucia National Trust.  For two months, I created an interpretation plan, designed the exhibition space and created a visitor experience route for a new museum on the heritage site of Pigeon Island National Landmark. This placement greatly aided towards my career path, it showed recruiters that I could go above and beyond and step out of my comfort zone.”

How did you go about getting your first job? Did the support offered at NTU help you?

“I knew that it was hard to get straight into the heritage sector so I started applying for jobs as soon as possible. After applying to various job roles within numerous organisations, I felt defeated and decided to look at other avenues into the heritage sector. But, after much determination and resilience I continued to apply for roles, even ones that I thought were out of my reach. I managed to secure my job as Records Project Co-ordinator for London and South East, at the National Trust the week after I handed in my dissertation.

My lecturers were very supportive and would often send emails out with opportunities and voluntary roles and told us about websites that advertised heritage sector jobs only.”

What does your current role involve? Describe a typical day at work.

“I am responsible for looking after records and documents for all disciplines including curators, building surveyors and estate managers in the London and South East region. My main role is providing guidance and making decisions on how to make paper records more accessible in the technological world, not just for those within the region but for future generations. Much of my work involves talking to the various disciplines understanding what documents and records they use, recruiting and working with volunteers on various projects and traveling around the region to beautiful historic houses and countryside destinations.”

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

“The highlight of my career happened in my first few months of working at the Trust. I had to make presentations to the Lead Disciplines, Heads of Departments and the Archives and Records Managers at Head Office about how London and South East was going to be the pioneering region in dealing with the vast amounts of records, solely relying on computers and electronic databases. This was something that was daunting as a new starter and a recent graduate, as I had to tell individuals, who have probably been in the heritage sector more years that I have been alive, that I was going to remove their paper records and convert them to documents behind a screen!”

Do you have any advice to share with new graduates or other alumni?

“Volunteer! Find what you are really interested in and volunteer as much as you can. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience and meet new people but you can also see what happens behind the scenes in the heritage sector.”

History and heritage is a route to your future.

Challenge your digital literacy, analytical, interpretive and communication skills to open up limitless professional possibilities.

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