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School work experience

Find out why we value work experience at National Museums Scotland and what opportunities are available.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic we are currently unable to offer any placements. Please do check back soon. In the meantime you can explore our volunteering opportunities and job vacancies.


Why is work experience important?

Our vision at National Museums Scotland to be a World Class Museum that “inspires people, connecting Scotland to the world and the world to Scotland” is particularly significant in helping young people prepare for life and the world of work.

At National Museums Scotland we recognise the value work experience offers to young people in developing key skills in active citizenship, increased self-esteem, communication, organisation, teamwork and ICT.

It can also increase a young person’s awareness of career choices available within a museum environment, and promote the concept of lifelong learning by helping to raise awareness of how rights and responsibilities, equal opportunities, health and safety and environmental issues apply in the workplace.

You can read about the experiences of some of our students on our blog.

What type of work can I do?

You will spend your week in one of our departments with a variety of staff, working on a range of activities that will allow you to see how that department operates and what they do. As our collections are very valuable and often require expert handling, you will mainly be shadowing, observing and assisting staff with aspects of their work.

You may also be involved with:

  • Cataloguing, labelling or re-organising items from our collections
  • General administration work such as photocopying or filing
  • Computer-based research
  • Cleaning or maintenance of collections, equipment or displays
  • Attending appropriate staff meetings or discussions.
  • Helping with events

Where will the work experience take place?

Work experience takes place across all our museums depending where there are places and staff that can support you. However, the main work experience weeks take place at National Museum of Scotland or the National Museums Collection Centre, both in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian and the National Museum of Rural Life at East Kilbride. You will mainly be behind the scenes at these sites working with staff in their offices, and of the museum they need to go to do the tasks required.

Who will support me?

Each department taking part in work experience week will have a staff member whose role is a Placement Coordinator; they are responsible for the overall organisation and planning of the week. They along with all the staff involved in your work experience week will provide the adequate information, instruction, training and supervision required to help you while you are with us.

How do I apply?

To be considered for a work experience place at National Museums Scotland you must be aged between 15 and 18 years old. To apply, you must complete an application form specifying the department and reference number you are applying to. When new opportunities become available you can apply online or by downloading a PDF form. You can apply online or download the application form [PDF 125KB] and return it to the Volunteers Coordinator at the address indicated at the end of the form.

Only one application per person is allowed, therefore sending multiple forms for each opportunity offered will greatly affect your chances of not being selected. Ideally you should apply up to eight weeks before your school's work experience week is due to take place, in order for us to administer your application properly.

How will selection take place?

Selection will be made based on a number of factors:

  • The information supplied on the application form, and if it is a good match with the requirements of the department
  • The availability of appropriate tasks and staff time to supervise these activities during the period of the placement
  • The number of young people already placed in a department at the time of your application
  • The dates you apply to come to National Museums Scotland are part of your schools Work Experience week

Competition for placements is extremely high, so please bear this in mind when filling out your application.

When will I hear if I have been selected?

As work experience at our museums is very popular and due to the number of application forms we receive, we are sorry we cannot acknowledge a receipt of your form. For this reason you will only be contacted again if your application has been successful and we would like to offer you a place; or you are being invited to attend an interview to help select the best candidate. If you have not heard from us within two weeks of the placement date it is unlikely you have been successful.

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