Natasha Ozcan joined the Llandudno Museum and Gallery student placement team from September 2021 to December 2021. Interested in all aspects of heritage, she started her museum placement unsure of what she wanted to do. We decided we would help her try it all. From front desk services to collection handling, and digital conservation, Natasha moved flawlessly between tasks. Her dedication to her learning journey was inspiring because she showed up happy and ready to work despite already having a part-time job and being in full-time education. Her final project was the digital conservation of an autograph book given to Hilda by Maggie for her birthday on December 18th, 1916. Filled with sketches, dedications, and advice, the autograph book gives an animated glimpse into the past. Natasha and I had a very good giggle at Maggie’s first bit of poetic advice to Hilda.
“Be a good girl
Lead a good life
Choose a good husband
And be a good wife.”
In her own words:
When I began my placement at Llandudno Museum I was unsure. A second-year History student at Bangor University, I had encountered a variety of histories and had applied these to a range of theoretical frameworks. Yet, I did not know what I wanted to do in the future or what it meant to work for an organisation in the Heritage sector. I needed experience in the real world. To reflect the uncertainty of my academic and professional aspirations, the placement tasks remained cross-divisional. I had the opportunity to work in various departments within the organisation – and to access and apply valuable skills. This presented me with the creative and intellectual freedom to explore my future.
Team working opportunities at Llandudno Museum proffered a positive experience. I joined a team of fellow volunteers in collections handling and administration. I became aware of how the team I worked with interacted with the work of other departments. This created a sense of contributing to a broader effort. I recognised that good communication in and between departments is important to achieve the common objective of the organisation. This was important to the development of the positive attitude – that is, – a readiness to contribute to new ideas and an ambition to realise them – that underpins the adoption of so many competencies.
My communication and networking skills have been refined by my representation of the Museum. My foremost duty at the Museum was to manage the front desk. Here, tasks included answering the telephone, responding to customer queries, encouraging customer feedback, and administering sales. I initially felt uncomfortable engaging in the development of these skills in fear of making a mistake or not knowing the correct answer. However, the staff were incredibly supportive throughout the placement and facilitated my recognition that it is okay to make mistakes – it is an important part of the process of learning. I can now appreciate the benefits of such development: I have conviction in my knowledge and opinions, and the courage to articulate them.
As I neared the end of my placement, I began a project in which I conducted the digital conservation of an early twentieth-century autographs book. This was a career pathway that I did not even know existed. DeAnn explained that it is the duty of those at Llandudno Museum, as custodians of our heritage, to promote access to the collections in any way we can. As I transcribed a proclamation that ‘ladies are inquisitive’ I understood this. The book is a reflection of the society in which the contributors lived; it tells a story that should be read. This was an enriching experience. The project enabled me to learn about my career prospects, to learn about employability, and to learn about myself. It has inspired me: I have recently applied for a position as an editorial assistant with the Bangor University Undergraduate Internship Scheme.
A dynamic and unpredictable experience, the placement has taught me what I could not learn in a classroom: self-efficacy, self-confidence, and self-esteem. I now possess a belief in my knowledge and skills that I did not possess before. I feel sure of myself and my future. Undisputedly, there are aspects that might benefit from further development, but, here, I depict learning as an emergent process – one to be revisited and modified throughout a lifetime. Armed with this experience, I am excited to explore my opportunities and ready to tackle any challenges along the way.
We are honoured to be a part of Natasha’s journey to a career that brings her joy. We have enjoyed working with her and are making plans to welcome her back this summer.