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Former trainee Fernanda tells us about her experience training at Archaeology Scotland

For those of you thinking about doing an apprenticeship or traineeship in the arts and heritage sector, my advice based on my personal experience is – go for it!

I spent five years before my traineeship with Archaeology Scotland, studying History, Art History, Museum Curating and French. During this time, I acquired a lot of knowledge and developed many different skills such as research and communication. However, I found that despite having had the special privilege of attending university, I was still quite clueless over the career paths I could follow. My perspective over the work and impact my career could have, was extremely narrow, an issue I only realised once I started my former traineeship.

To help myself gain more experience and understanding of what professionals in the arts and culture world do, I put myself forward to volunteer and participate in various sector-related activities. I also balanced my studies with working part-time in the hospitality sector, an experience that not only supported me financially but also endowed me with valuable organisation and customer service skills.

At the time of my graduation in 2020 and with the arrival of the pandemic, prospects weren’t looking great for me. Opportunities to work in the sector were scarce, and the pandemic was affecting my self-confidence terribly. I, alongside so many recent graduates and young people, was in desperate need of an opportunity.

Thanks to Next Step Initiative, Archaeology Scotland and the bodies funding the Ethnic Minority Career Museum and Built Environment Heritage Programme, I had the chance to continue developing my skills and nurturing my passion for the heritage sector.

I started my traineeship in Events and Engagement in August 2020. After twelve months of full-time training, I felt like a completely different person. I acquired and strengthened a very diverse range of skills and saw a massive change in my attitude and outlook.

The most significant and notorious improvement was my increase in confidence. Whereas in the beginning, I was taking tiny steps not to fail, I discovered that it is important to venture into all tasks, take the initiative and voice out ideas.

Next Step Initiative also encouraged me to track my progress through learning logs where I would write my achievements and personal insights each week. This reflexive work was incredibly useful to help me understand where I was standing and where I wanted to move towards. It was also a lovely reminder of my strengths and achievements throughout my experience.

My perceptions over what archaeology and heritage are have also changed. I now know their role in society and how we can use them to our world’s advantage to help generate happy, strong communities. From a vocational point of view, this has led me to realise the breadth of options available to all people wanting to start a career in these sectors. I have also discovered the sector’s potential and the diverse projects that could be developed around it.

Despite training during the global pandemic, I have benefited from all the training opportunities, reflections, and the collective switch towards a more digital sector. I do not doubt that I have grown in all aspects possible and that this traineeship has been a massive step up towards a successful career in archaeology and heritage.

Apprenticeships and traineeships will offer you the space, time and experience to widen your outlook, learn about career pathways, expand your skillset, network with people and most importantly, show you the things you truly enjoy.

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