Careers Advice and Work Experience
Careers Advice and Work Experience in the East Midlands Region
This page contains information relating to Careers Advice and Work Experience, specifically in the East Midlands Region. For general advice on placements see the ARA careers pages.
If you are considering your options and think a career in archives might be for you please have a look at the Careers pages and consider joining the Section for New Professionals (which is also aimed at pre-course volunteers and trainees).
Once you have some idea about the job, you might want to talk to someone working in the profession at the moment. The following people in the East Midlands Region are happy to be contacted; however, please bear in mind that they will not be able to undertake lengthy discussions, or offer jobs or work experience.
It is best to make sure you have a basic understanding of the role before contacting someone so you can ask specific questions and have a more focused discussion. Please take note of when the person says they are happy to be contacted: some people are happy to receive calls to work, others may not. It may be best to email first and ask when it will be convenient to telephone if you want a chat.
Feel free to contact more than one person: it might be an idea to try someone new to the job and then someone more experienced to get an idea of how your career might develop. You should also talk to people in different types of archive work as jobs in the public sector are different to those in businesses, charities or academic institutions.
If you think a career in archives is for you please view our work experience section for further advice on finding a suitable placement in the East Midlands Region.
Name: Sarah Colborne
Workplace: Manuscripts and Special Collections, University of Nottingham
Current Role: Archivist (Collections, jobshare)
Can discuss: Volunteering, distance learning, short-term contracts and unemployment, cataloguing posts, working in a University archive, jobsharing.
Name: Becky Sheldon
Workplace: Derbyshire Record Office, Derbyshire County Council
Current Role: Archivist
Can discuss: personal experience of obtaining pre-course experience, attending Aberystwyth University, working in a local authority archive, and the different experiences of my colleagues on the same course.
Name: Katharine Short
Workplace: Archives and Special Collections, De Montfort University, Leicester
Current Role: Archivist
Can Discuss: Study by distance learning, working within a university setting, being the only archivist, managing library special collections alongside the archive.
Qualified over 15 years
Name: Jenny Moran
Workplace: Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.
Current role: Manager, public services and outreach, legal compliance
Can discuss: Careers in archives, modern records and information management in local government.
Contact details: Telephone 0116 2571080 (office hours)
Professional training courses normally require some previous relevant work experience. Unfortunately paid posts are few and far between and because of the economic situation we do not see that changing in the foreseeable future. In addition the East Midlands region is quite small with few archive repositories spread over a wide area.
On a more optimistic note, we do not believe that the current economic crisis represents the end of the archive profession so we are keen to encourage those who wish to undertake professional training to do so. It is vital for the profession to continue to attract well-qualified, enthusiastic and motivated people. See our East Midlands Careers Advice section for details of people working in the region who may be able to give further advice.
If you are hoping to become an archivist the kind of job you are looking for is a para-professional post in a local authority record office, business, charity or other establishment. The job is usually called archives assistant, record assistant or trainee archivist. Bear in mind that the term ‘trainee archivist’ does not signify that at the end of the term you will be qualified. This usually just indicates a post that is suitable for those seeking relevant work experience.
These jobs, which are often aimed at graduates, are not well paid but you will receive a range of experience in record keeping practices that will enable you to apply for a professional training course with reasonable hope of success. They are normally only advertised locally although some may be on email lists, such as ARCHIVES-NRA, the UK discussion list for archivists, conservators and records managers.
Unpaid work experience
As paid para-professional work can be hard to find, many people need to undertake voluntary work in order to gain suitable experience. As well as the financial hardship this is a difficult path to follow as it is harder to ensure that you have all round experience.
Please ensure that you check carefully with the establishment that you will receive training and experience in a wide range of areas before becoming a volunteer. Taking part in an indexing or digitization project will not, in itself, give you good enough experience to be accepted on to an archive course. Remember it is the quality of the experience that counts rather than its duration. FARMER the Forum for Archives and Records Management Education and Research, (members include representatives of the postgraduate programmes which provide primary professional qualifications for entrants to the archives and records management profession), have drawn up guidelines for applicants seeking pre-course work experience.
Opportunities in the East Midlands
The list below is intended to indicate the typical opportunities afforded by some of the main sources of placement in the East Midlands region (as at November 2015). The National Archives 'Find an archive' function lists the archive repositories in the region, with contact details. Many offices are inundated with work experience applicants and cannot take everyone on.
University of Nottingham
Boots Plc., Nottingham
We offer a paid annual pre-course placement experience which is advertised via the Archives-NRA list serve in April/May. The post normally runs from September to September, although the next placement will not be advertised until Spring 2017.
Derbyshire Record Office
The Record Office offers a small number of one or two-week work placements each year. Although primarily aimed at school and college students, these placements are useful for those wanting to learn more about what how archives and local studies service in the local authority sector run before deciding if they wish to pursue a career in this area. For individuals looking for a longer-term placement, we offer placements for those seeking pre-course work experience in Archives and Records Management. We also offer volunteering opportunities which involve working on specific projects within the archives, local studies and conservation sections of our service. All such volunteering opportunities will be advertised via the Derbyshire County Council website: http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/services/volunteering/
For individuals unable to commit to a placement or volunteer position within the record office, you may be interested in our FindersKeepers project which gives you the opportunity to work with archive catalogues and contribute to our online resources from wherever you are. For more information, please see our blog at www.recordoffice.wordpress.com/FindersKeepers.
De Montfort University, Leicester
The Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland (ROLLR)
ROLLR is able to take up to six people per annum for a structured week of work experience. This would cover collections management, preservation and conservation, public service and outreach. You will have the opportunity to undertake practical work in each of these areas, talk to staff and find out what day to day work in a local authority record office is like.
Northamptonshire Record Office
We can offer a one week voluntary work experience placement for people considering a career in archives and records management. There are a limited number of placements per year and priority is given to residents or students within the County or City of Nottingham. For further information please visit our website.