RESP Outreach Intern – Late November & December

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

Hi there, I’m James, a part-time MSc student in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the University of Edinburgh, and the Outreach Intern for the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project. I have had an amazing time working with the team, while building experience and a sense of responsibility working in the Heritage Sector. As such, I thought it would be a great idea to keep note of my thoughts, goals, and some of the challenges I have experienced along the way and share them with you through this blog. I intend to look back upon this blog to recall my experiences and reflect on the work that I have accomplished, while sharing my journey with others who may also be looking to begin a career in the sector.

For this reason, I thought I would begin by summarising my experiences month by month from the start of my internship up until now and the end of my contract.

After having gone through the interview process for two positions for the RESP, I was successful in being selected as the new RESP Archive Project Outreach Intern in November. As I work once a week while balancing my studies, you can imagine that my first two weeks were largely induction based, involving setting up my new work email, login details, work laptop and so on. Aside from this and the important (but often mundane) online training modules, this involved meeting the RESP team and becoming familiar with the Centre for Research Collections at the University.

The team is made up of Archivist Lesley Bryson and Assistant Archivist Caroline Milligan, who previously interviewed me for my role. I also caught up with fellow intern Rebekah Day. I first met Rebekah through the CRC’s Summer Heritage School organised by Student Engagement Officer, Serena Fredrick; who later advertised these positions for the RESP. As I found out on my first day, Rebekah had coincidentally applied for these roles, and was selected for the position of RESP Archive Project Curatorial Intern.

After these first two weeks and being informed of my responsibilities and what I could expect in my role, I tasked myself with gathering materials from the RESP archive for the project’s ‘Advent Calendar’ X (Twitter) feed; which involved writing and scheduling posts for the month of December, presenting users with an archival entry relevant to a Christmas themed hashtag. For this, I was provided with the login details to manage the RESP’s twitter feed hence forth. This was a great way for me to familiarise myself with the online archive itself and navigating the material available.

Soon after this period, I decided to start scheduling weekly posts under the hashtag ‘ThrowbackThursday’ that presented an interesting archival entry from our collection. During this, I thought I would try posting these ‘X’s at different times in the day to test engagement with the public:

The following week in the middle of December, Lesley, Caroline, and myself travelled to see a showing of the film ‘A film about life and work in the Musselburgh Mills’ in Tranent put together by The European Ethnological Research Centre (EERC). The film told the story of the mills through the words of those who worked and lived in the town and beyond. This was a great opportunity to see in person the significance of oral history and the impact of these stories upon local communities:

This first month gave me a lot to consider when it came to my responsibilities going forward and what was expected from me. While I have previously volunteered for the National Archives in London and the Heritage Collection for the CRC, this internship already gave me a new insight into the inner workings of the Heritage Sector!