Turning Learning into Practice

Natalie Carfora (right) with historian Carissa in costume at Sovereign Hill

Natalie Carfora (right) with historian Carissa in costume at Sovereign Hill

Deakin University student Natalie Carfora writes about her internship at the Gold Museum

Now that I am nearing the end of my Master of Cultural Heritage, I am starting to think about applying for jobs. I spend a lot of time reading position descriptions and worrying about the competition. I recently saw a graduate internship advertised that was full-time, with some weekend and night work required, and unpaid. It is demoralising to have studied for so long to feel as if your skills and time are not valued. That is why internships at the Gold Museum are so important.

Supported by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), I was able to travel from Adelaide to Ballarat for three weeks to work with the Museum’s team. These placements are for people like me, namely those in their final year of studies who are looking for practical experience. This internship has done exactly that; it has enabled me to practice what I have learned over the last two years and put it into practice in a real museum context.

I have been really lucky to wear a few different hats while I have been in Ballarat, allowing me to spread myself across all working areas of the museum and have a real sense of what curators in smaller institutions do. Over the course of three weeks I have assisted with collections management, exhibitions, social media, conservation, and public programs. I have been busy!

There have been a few highlights of the placement. I worked with the Arnott-Rogers collection featuring objects collected by missionaries in China in the early 20th century. I was involved in auditing and assessing the condition of the collection and re-housing objects for long-term storage.

I co-ordinated the Museum’s first Twitter tour which involved interacting with people around the world and sharing #behindthescenes views of the collection.

Twitter Tour of the Gold Museum's collection store

Twitter Tour of the Gold Museum’s collection store

I learned conservation cleaning skills while working on a Chinese processional dragon head and a number of wood carvings dating between the 1860s and 1890s. These items are some of the oldest examples of their kind in the world.

I also attended a few great events, from the Doctor Blake Murder Mystery night to the launch of the new Costume Coterie program.

Finally, I had to opportunity to cross the road to Sovereign Hill and dress like an 1850s lady. I spent the morning walking around the open-air museum, taking photos and fielding questions about our underwear. Surprisingly, that’s a normal experience!

My internship at the Gold Museum has been really valuable. It has been great to have work experience in a social history museum and practice the skills I have learned in a real life context. Thank you to all of the staff at the Gold Museum, VCCI and Deakin University for giving me this opportunity.

Written by Natalie Carfora, Master of Cultural Heritage student at Deakin University

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