A number of our MA students have recently completed work placements which made use of their unique skills as historians. In the first of three interviews with our MA students, we talk to Kyle Cameron-Symes, who secured a place at the Essex County Hospital. He shares his experiences below.
Could you tell us about your placement at Essex County Hospital. Why did you choose this placement?
Initially, I first heard about the placement through my MA. With another student, Deborah Wiltshire, we were tasked with recording the two-hundred year history of Essex County Hospital as it is closing down in 2018. I was enthusiastic when I saw the placement being offered as MA students, like me, were needed to collate the history of the Hospital. I thought it would be good to work with an external organisation, and to engage with the public on such a great project.
What was your favourite part of the placement?
I must say that my favourite part was engaging with the public, and working in a team. This included meetings with people from the NHS Trust and setting up a website. I enjoyed this, especially because we were all working to a common goal. Also, I enjoyed hearing recordings on the website, from nurses working in the 1960s and 70s, which wouldn’t have been available for the public to hear without the website.
What did you learn from your placement?
I learnt a lot even though it was only three months long. One of the things I learned was the value of teamwork, especially in a hospital within the NHS. Working with others was a crucial skill, and something that I would take away from the placement. As well as this, time management was something crucial as the project required meeting at specific times with the NHS Trust. All the skills that I learned were vital, transferable, and very important when it comes to employability.
What was the most exciting thing to happen during your placement?
One of the most interesting things was that Dr Alix Green spoke to Dave Monk on his show on BBC Essex Radio to advertise and explain the project. This showed the project was getting off the ground. It was interesting to listen to, and was a proud moment of mine during the placement.
” I would say get in early, and start asking questions and even look at people who have done placements before”
What would you say to any students who are considering doing a placement?
The placement for me was a fantastic opportunity, and I am glad they offered it however; I would say to think about why you want to do the placement, and make sure that this is what you want to do. You could do this by contacting the department, and the placement coordinator as well as Alix Green. I would say get in early, and start asking questions and even talk to people who have done placements before.
Get to know the people involved early, so you know whether this is the route for you or not. As well as this, learn more about the placement which is important at the start. Lastly, read what the specific placement requires, mine focused on social media and blogs, so if you are passionate about these things, enquire for this or your specific interest when you apply. Make sure you read the criteria when you apply for it.
Has doing your placement influenced your career plans?
Doing the placement has made me realise how much I would love to do a PhD. I would also love to develop this through researching Essex County Hospital in more detail. I also learnt a lot of skills whilst working with the NHS Trust. I also learnt how to use historical sources as resources; all which I enjoyed can be transferred to my future career.
For more information, or if you are interested in doing a placement please contact Alix Green on firstname.lastname@example.org