By John Piprani
My colleague Sarah Mallen at the Careers Service suggested this may be a good topic to explore for the Careers Service blog. I agreed, mainly because it gave me the opportunity to actually find out what my friends and colleagues were up to now. I thought I knew, but did I?
I feel that I am not an archetypal graduate example as I have a smorgasbord of Archaeology and University related roles. I am a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Chester covering the Early Prehistory parts of three modules. I also have a Research Associate role at the University of Manchester formalising how we can use our artefact collections and students as a teaching resource for Primary Schools to teach British Prehistory. As well I am developing and running a series of workshops aimed at teaching both archaeology students and ‘civilians’ how to make stone tools. Finally I have a part-time guidance role at the Careers Service, hence this blog post!
My first port of call was Jamie Skuse who I met in the UoM Archaeology Department in about 2012. He was kind enough to agree to give me a hand with some filming I was doing at the time, and he now works within the Greater Manchester Heritage Sector. Over to Jamie Skuse.
What are you doing now?
At the moment, I’m a Museum Assistant at Bramall Hall. I work front of house, so I welcome people to the Hall, answer questions and take tour groups around.
What is the best bit about your job?
I’d say working in a historic building, as there is always something new to discover. There are so many incredible bits of architecture, and the stories concerning past inhabitants are great fun to tell. I also enjoy writing about the hall’s archaeology.
In 2017, Stockport Council offered me the lead on the St Mary’s 200th Anniversary exhibition, which was nerve wracking but it went extremely well. I loved the experience and I’m hoping to do it again in the near future.
What is the worst aspect?
Probably the museum shop!
What did you do at UoM? (Archaeology? Museology? Degree? Masters? PhD?)
I did a BA (Hons) Archaeology degree, and I started on an MA but I had to leave due to illness. I loved my time at UoM, and if I can in the future I may come back to do a postgrad degree.
How long since you graduated?
I graduated in 2013.
How well did UoM prepare you for your current role?
Very well, as it turns out. My degree got me the job, and the knowledge it taught me helps when I talk to people/write about the hall. I tend to see details in the building my colleagues miss, which can lead to some pleasant finds. Perhaps most importantly, during my second year at UoM I was offered the opportunity to do a placement at Manchester Museum. This not only cemented my desire to work in a museum, but it taught me many valuable skills that I still use today.
What was the most valuable aspect of your education to you?
Besides the knowledge, I’d say the experience. I got to do many things that otherwise would have been closed to me. The aforementioned placement went so well I volunteered for a further year, and looks great on my CV. I also got to work on a Viking boat burial in Ardnamurchan, which was mind blowing!
What is the most important advice you would give to a younger you wanting to work in archaeology?
I would say learn to drive, volunteer as often as you can and figure out what it is that really interests you, and focus on it!
If you want to know more about life in the Greater Manchester Heritage Sector this is Jamie’s blog