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Xander Shell


We worked in partnership with Volunteering Matters to welcome two paid trainees who learned valuable skills and gained insight into how museums operate behind the scenes.

As part of our overall aim to engage 16–25 year olds in heritage and museums, Scotland 365 provided paid traineeships for two young people to gain practical experience and help improve their employment prospects. Working in partnership with Volunteering Matters (formally known as Project Scotland) enabled us to reach out to young people not in education, employment or training. 

At the end of 2021 National Museums Scotland welcomed two trainees; the first was a three-month traineeship across Science and Technology and Art and Design learning skills in photography, scanning formatting, filing and digitising records. The second was a five-month traineeship with the Natural Sciences department based at the National Museums Collection Centre, learning about the insect specimens in the collection and curatorial process and procedures.

Case Study: Xander

Xander heard about the traineeship whilst he was volunteering at Project Scotland during his gap year between school and university. He applied for the traineeship because he was interested in museums, he felt it would provide useful work experience and it was more interesting than his job as a waiter.

Xander worked with National Museums Scotland four days a week across different departments including Art and Design and Science and Technology – spending a day with each team. Xander attended departmental meetings, took minutes, scanned and categorised slides and items for exhibitions and photographed objects. His photography skills developed a great deal during his traineeship.

Xander at the National Museums Collection Centre in Granton.

Xander said that the traineeship provided him with real, practical work experience that he could add to his CV and university applications. His softer skills have improved and he has learned how to work with highly skilled, professional people. He had never worked in an office before and he now knows that he enjoys the office environment. He learned a lot from working with different teams in terms of setting goals for the various projects. He developed his organisation skills and enjoyed making a plan of all the tasks he wanted to complete each day. He now has a better understanding of how museums work and how collections are curated, and he feels this will change his experience and appreciation of museums going forward.

During a recent visit to a museum in York, Xander felt he was able to appreciate the experience more as a result of what he learned during his traineeship. He appreciates the knowledge and skills that he has gained through the traineeship and he would like to do more internships like this when he goes to university. After university he would like to pursue a career in the public sector.

I was seeing stuff and appreciating the effort, and it made sense to me...Now I go to a museum and I definitely understand more about the process of how something got there. I feel more of a personal connection.
- Xander

Case Study: Rummi

Rummi was looking for a part time job. She came across the traineeship opportunity through Project Scotland and it felt like a chance to try something new.

Rummi is interested in animals and zoology and the traineeship, which involved looking at the insect collection at the National Museums Collection Centre, aligned well with her interests. She was interested in learning how museums work, how collections are curated and learning things that would be useful when she goes to college.

Rummi’s traineeship involved her working two and a half days a week. During this time, she catalogued items. This involved exploring the archives and collections and recording detailed information about the objects on spreadsheets. This important work will enable people in the future to find specific items more easily. As well as the cataloguing, she did line drawings of insects in the collection. A highlight for her was seeing the insect specimens up close. She is hoping she gets the opportunity to learn some photography skills.

Rummi at the National Museums Collection Centre.

Rummi has very much enjoyed her traineeship experience so far. She has enjoyed working with a small team of four people. For her it was important that she worked with a team of people she was comfortable with as this was only her second ever job. She has enjoyed the flexibility of the work – being able to work on days that suit her, and being to choose to work from home or at Granton.

Rummi now has a better understanding of how museums work. She feels she has broadened her knowledge of heritage in the city. She had visited one museum in the city before her traineeship, but she didn’t know about the National Museums Collections Centre at Granton – which is a specialist collections facility.

Participation in the traineeship has improved Rummi’s health and wellbeing. It has enabled her to be more independent and earn her own money. Her daily routine has improved, and she feels better about going out more regularly.

Rummi would like to continue to work with animals and plants, either on a paid or voluntary basis. In the future she would like to study science at college before going on to university to study zoology.

It’s been fun learning about the different insects and how many there are. That’s the thing that surprised me, how many there are, there are thousands.
- Rummi

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