Kickstart Scheme: Entry and Progression into the Heritage Sector
Emily Coxson, Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice at MGS caught up with Beth Hampton, former Kickstarter at the Dundee Museum of Transport (DMoT) to chat about her journey into the sector and how she’s progressed into her new role as Community Engagement Officer.
Hi Beth, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm Beth, the Community Engagement Officer at Dundee Museum of Transport. But previously as my kickstart role, I was a Collections and Curatorial Assistant.
What attracted you to the Kickstart scheme and join DMoT?
I graduated last year doing History and Psychology at Dundee University. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, I never really thought about it while I was at university. I started volunteering at Dundee Museum of Transport last April. I was doing front of house and I loved being able to interact with people again. My manager said that I could do some curatorial work as they didn’t have a curator at the time. I was used to doing that work with my History degree and I really enjoyed it. Well, off the back of that, my manager said that they had Kickstart positions available and encouraged me to apply.
What’s the biggest impact you think you have had on DMoT and vice versa?
The biggest impact I probably had is getting the grant for the sensory garden. We’re going to be able to offer a free community space that people of all ages can use. It’s not easy writing grants and I had never done it before. So, getting that money to actually produce something that is going to benefit the museum is probably the biggest impact I feel I’ve had.
A before picture of the sensory garden project at DMoT
The biggest impact this experience has had on me is I’ve realised that I want to work in museums. I never thought about it before, my brain hadn’t even considered it. I just love the environment. Also, my confidence has grown rapidly in the last 6 months. Before this, I wouldn’t have called someone off the cuff or try to set up partnerships like I am now. I don’t second guess myself as much either.
Congratulations on your new role as Community Engagement Officer at DMoT! How did the process of acquiring funding for your role go?
My manager said that he’d like me to stay as I was getting on really well and gave me the responsibility to write the grant myself to get funding. I gave it a go and afterwards the National Lottery Community Fund said that they really liked our proposal and we had acquired the funding.
What work are you currently doing or have planned as a Community Engagement Officer?
We’re partnering with Dundee University to do our sensory garden. We reached out to them, and they loved our idea so they’re going to be supplying us with some plants. We’re going to put the garden in front of our play bus, so it’ll be a really nice little area. We’re looking to launch it during the Easter weekend, hopefully with a workshop as well to go along with it.
I’m also trying to attract different age groups to the museum. I’m in the research phase and I’ve been looking to see what other museums are doing. We’re a small team of staff and my contract is only six months. I don't want to leave them with something that needs a Community Engagement Officer or Learning Officer, I want to leave them with something that they can carry on doing when I might not be there.
What are you hoping to achieve and learn during this new role?
I want to achieve a successful education program that attracts schools that can carry on beyond my six months. I know six months isn’t a lot of time to do all of this, it’s quite ambitious. I’d love to attract more children to the museum. We have the fire engines and buses, but I think we need more interactive stuff for them to use.
This is all new to me, so I guess I’m learning each day. I’m doing stuff that’s completely outside my skillset, for example I’m doing our social media and some graphic design work. But I’m loving every minute of it because I’m able to pick up on all sorts of skills.
What are your future career aspirations?
I’d love to stay in museums, but I understand how difficult that is. It’s such a competitive industry – there’s not a lot of jobs or funding in it. So, I’m not setting my sights on it. We’ve been given the green light to apply for funding so I could stay. But whether that happens or not, you can’t bank on that. But I’d love to be in a role where there’s a wide variety for me to do, I don’t like being stuck in a box.