Wednesday, 26 January 2011

New Directions

You know those career dreams you have? The 'if I could have any job' ones? The ones you've never really pursued and only ever fantasised about? What is yours?

One of mine is being an archivist - well, specifically, a genealogist. However you can't just jump straight into being a genealogist or historical researcher, you have to train as an archivist first. I've been thinking for a while how I'd like to do that, but hadn't seriously considered actually pursuing it.

Until now.

For a couple of years now I've had my heart set on a career in politics. I've done two public affairs internships and I've concentrated on applying for (or, more realistically, been annoyed at the lack of vacancies for) related jobs. But is it what I really want? I do enjoy politics and I have interested, but it's not the only thing I have a passion for.

For as long as I can remember I've been a history nut. I studied history right up to Advanced Higher level and did consider doing a joint honours in Law and History at uni, before deciding that'd be too much work. I even attempted to change degree after my disastrous first 2nd year, only to be told I couldn't go straight into 2nd year History but would have to go into 1st year - something I was not keen to do. So I stuck with Law. But I did do a historical legal dissertation on Gender and the Roots of Citizenship. And I briefly flirted with the idea of doing a Masters in Gender History.

Part of what I love about history (and indeed this is the same reason that I'm a fountain of celeb knowledge) is I want, I need, to know details about people and their lives. I am infinitely curious and can spend hours on Wikipedia reading up about all sorts of things, but it is the lives of real people that really fascinates me. I so dearly wish I had a time machine so that I could go and visit the past and see how life really was - first stops would be my two historical soft points of Restoration Britain and Georgian Britain.

It was my parents' genealogy projects that really got me thinking how much I'd like to be a genealogist. I love it when my parents tell me new things about our ancestors and I think it's amazing that my mum has managed to trace back certain strands of her family tree to the late 17th century! Working at The Real Mary King's Close allowed me to pretend to be a 17th century Edinburgh woman, and I think it's amazing that they've been able to find details about REAL people who lived on the close through the remarkably preserved contemporary documents.

In order to become an archivist you have to study for an accredited Masters at one of 5 unis in the UK - the two Scottish courses being at Glasgow Uni and Dundee Uni (this, and the Welsh one, can be done as distance learning courses, which is appealling). I don't really want to do a postgrad, I've had enough of uni really, but it would be vocational I suppose so could be better. Not to mention the appeal of studying for something that I genuinely want to do.

I have a Law degree and did a course in basic Gaelic (and still have the course workbook, CD, dictionary and grammar book so can easily reteach myself) - both of which are extremely advantageous when it comes to applying for the Masters. Yet that is not all, you NEED to have work experience (either voluntary or paid). They don't just let you do the Masters without having had a go at archiving before.

So I have decided I shall apply to do voluntary work. I've found 3 places in Edinburgh that advertise for volunteers, although I imagine the demand is quite high so places will be competitive. Still, no harm in applying. There's also a paid traineeship in Glasgow which I might apply for, application details aren't released until May anyway so no rush yet. Maybe being an archivist isn't going to be for me? At least I can find this out for myself through volunteering. It would be nice to find something I could do for a living that I love though.


1 comment:

Felicity said...

That sounds really good, an interesting idea!
My back-up job in case I scarewed up my degree was always a firefighter, but I'd love to be a proofreader or something like that. Always loved reading and correcting people, ha!
Good luck with all the applying, hope you get something good soon x