Brave new world (or just a tin hat job?) - Internships in Action


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Fiona Colton, Scottish Borders Council

Presentation from the Museums Galleries Scotland 'Fortune Favours the Brave' conference, September 2013.

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Brave new world (or just a tin hat job?) - Internships in Action

  1. 1. BRAVE NEW WORLD? (Or just a tin hat job?) Exploring the highs and (occasional ) lows of hosting an Internship from A (Application forms) to Z (training events at the zoo)… and everything in between. Fiona Colton, Senior Museums Curator, Scottish Borders Council Museum & Gallery Service
  2. 2. Reflections on the reality of hosting an Intern in a local authority museum service, under the MGS Internship Scheme. From the perspective of a host organisation the impact of workplace learning on capacity, skills, entry and diversity. challenges faced and the insights gained.
  3. 3. An opportunity and a challenge? Museums Galleries Scotland Internship Scheme announced in 2010 • Heritage Lottery Skills for the Future Funding for the project and Intern Stipend • Person Specification: eligibility & definition of MGS Intern. •Application process & timescales. •Refining the project plan - experiential learning opportunities. •Focus on Skills: Learning Framework & Validation process. •Differing Perspectives… following announcement of the scheme, feedback from the sector ranged from enthusiastic support to outrage.
  4. 4. Practical Measures, Planning and Preparations  Defining roles and remits  Floating the idea to core staff and senior managers  Challenges faced and the insights gained.  Ways to measure and express success  Impact of workplace learning on capacity, skills, entry and diversity.
  5. 5. A challenging opportunity Balancing MGS priorities with SBC corporate requirements and aspirations Consultation with staff: Roles, CPD and Clarity of purpose Diversity, Sifting, Short listing & Interviews: Taking a risk? Operational considerations- status, security & supervision Keeping on track: Monitoring, coaching, feedback & evaluation Reflecting on how learning is achieved (adaptive learning) Capacity & employability - Moving from knowledge to skills… and developing workplace behaviours & competencies
  6. 6. Practicalities • Ensure buy-in from senior managers & staff through effective advocacy and consultation • Build in a proper Intern induction process, agree management structure and baseline training • Clear diary for first 2 weeks and work hard on team building & integration into workplace • Table monthly review meetings with Intern for the following 12 months
  7. 7. Lessons Learned • Make it a real experience- provide context, suggest contacts, offer feedback, insist on good time management • Provide opportunities to gain wider knowledge of the sector through networking or learning journeys • Agree deadlines, set high standards with attention to “finishing” • Expect some slippage (and build in flexibility) but also watch out for “flittering” and “poachers” • Manage tendency to look for too many new ventures.
  8. 8. Insights Gained  workplace learning – initial period was characterised by focus on knowledge (what is known/theory) and observation  Key positives: Adaptive Learning (Experiential)… Building Appropriate Workplace Behaviours  Learning is a journey: Understanding How something was learned is as important as What was learned  Capacity building for the Intern and the Host Organisation- developing confidence and skills on both sides. Fostering a can-do attitude.
  9. 9. The Politics of Experience?  Entry & diversity: knowledge gained on this non-standard entry route (Non-specialist Internship) is comparable to learning gained during a year of academic/post graduate study.  However, the skills set gained during the Internship provided the individual with more evidence-based learning and proven track record in a workplace learning setting (therefore better employability/increased prospects?)  Time to re-think recruitment norms which traditionally favour post-grad qualifications? Is there Sector appetite for supporting or hosting more diverse entry level opportunities?  The challenges faced were strongly outweighed by positive gains for MGS, the Host Organisation/Staff and SBC’s Intern.
  10. 10. Some highlights from Kelsey Jubin’s Learning Journey Internship with SBC Museum Service 2011-12...
  11. 11. MGS Internship Programme Interview presentation 19 th August 2011 Kelsey Jubin Project Researcher Museum of the World Marshall Island Navigational Stick Chart late-19th/early-20th century Hereford Mappa Mundi, c.1290
  12. 12. The venues Kelsey spent time at: COLDSTREAM Coldstream Museum HAWICK Hawick Museum HAWICK Borders Textile Towerhouse GALASHIELS Old Gala House DUNS Jim Clark Room SELKIRK Halliwell’s House Museum SELKIRK Sir Walter Scott’s Courtroom ANCRUM Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre PEEBLES Tweeddale Museum JEDBURGH Jedburgh Castle Jail JEDBURGH Mary Queen Of Scots Visitor Centre INNERLEITHEN St Ronan’s Wells Interpretive Centre
  13. 13. Weights and Measures Relocation Project
  14. 14. Accessioning the Gala Braw Lass Collection
  15. 15. Tweeddale Museum and Hawick Museum Audits
  16. 16. Interns training & networking From Child Protection Awareness to ESMP Mystery Shopper Training at The Zoo.
  17. 17. Skills development: Assisting with Exhibition and Education projects Lights, Camera, Action… Harry Potter jumper and scarf
  18. 18. Mini-beasts, Felt Art, Silver Arrow and Shoes
  19. 19. Lessons Learned • Flexibility – what is anticipated may differ from what is experienced • Not everything works and that is a good thing • Ongoing feedback from staff and stakeholders was vital • Challenge recruitment “norms” in the organisation • Sense of ownership was important for our Intern – not feeling lost in the organisation • Sharing experience as a host – legacy and resources.
  20. 20. GOING FORWARD – Internship Scheme 2013 and beyond New Internship 2013-14 • NEW PARTNERSHIP - Joint hosting SBC and Trimontium Museum Trust: Sharing skills and growing confidence in staff management NEW FOR 2013 • Screening and shortlisting process - Adopt an Intern • Calling Canada - Interviewing via Skype • Peer Support/Action Learning Sets for Host Supervisers • CPD/Training Training Fund for Intern’s CPD
  21. 21. BREAK OUT ACTIVITY Internships in future- some issues to consider… • Fact or Fiction. Are Internships ethical? Coming to terms with negative attitudes • Many paths to the same destination but is there a job at the end of it? • Appetite for risk taking in recruitment : tenderfoot or fully rounded? • Is a Museum Internship a valid alternative to post grad/accredited learning? • Coaching and management time. • Benefits to an organisation of growing young people into roles. • Could museums & galleries work more closely with partnerships, stakeholders, vocational training and education bodies to extend opportunities for learning and skills development?
  22. 22. Breakout Activity KEY QUESTIONS What are the main barriers to hosting an internship? Solutions/Alternatives? Could individual museums & galleries participate further through partnerships? Collaborations, mentoring and sharing skills? What do Interns and Post-Grads need or want from museums & galleries. What can the sector realistically offer?
  23. 23. WAYMARKS, STRATEGIES AND STAKEHOLDERS Museums Association Strategy MGS INTERNSHIP Scheme Creative Scotland Skills Devt Scotland Sector Skills Scotland Creative Apprenticeships
  24. 24. Some models of good practice -vocational learning and skills development schemes • Recent work in partnership with Employment Training Units (Falkirk’s Young Ambassadors at the Park Gallery developed by Gillian Smith and team ) • Hull City Council Ferens Gallery Ferens Futures & Middlesborough MIMA Creative Apprenticeships • Scottish Borders Council Museum & Gallery Service Museum Internships; Supply Project Assistants and Career Development posts.
  25. 25. BRAVE NEW WORLD? (Or just a tin hat job?) Exploring the highs and (occasional ) lows of hosting an Internship from A (Application forms) to Z (training events at the zoo)… and everything in between. Fiona Colton, Senior Museums Curator, Scottish Borders Council Museum & Gallery Service