Exploring careers in librarianship and archives

Here’s an inspiring story from a student in the College of Arts and Humanities about undertaking GO Wales placements in the Swansea University Library and Archives Department:-

When I first entered the GO Wales Program I was a very different person to the person I am today. I was very unconfident and had reservations that I would even be able to have a job in the future.  I was also stuck between two possible careers paths, one being the possibility of training to be a librarian or whether I wanted to be an archivist. Each has their own challenges and rewards, but because I had never had any experience working in these industries I did not know which one would be the most suitable for me.

The Go Wales process was simple. I made an appointment with a GO Wales adviser who was able to talk me through the process. It is best to go with a clear idea of the kind of experience you want to have; it speeds up the process and makes it much easier for the adviser to organise. She was able to organise two work experiences. The first one was with Singleton library. During the experience I was able to encounter many of the departments in the library, meaning that I got a full picture of the roles that make up an academic library. The second experience I had was in The Richard Burton Archive, Swansea University. I gained some really hands-on practical experience in the Archives, having the chance to do box listing, which is one of the core tasks of an archivist, as well as digitising photographs, transcribing documents and summarising recorded interviews. Throughout both of my work experiences I was in contact with my GO Wales adviser who was supportive and checked in on me throughout the work experiences to make sure I was comfortable and thriving in the process.

Since my work experience, I have had three offers to study Information Management at a postgraduate level. This is because of the information I have gained during the experience, meaning I could write a more informed personal statement in my application. It also taught me that, while I want to try and train to be both a librarian and archivist, I feel like I am most suited to being an archivist. It also left me with more confidence and I more certain that I can be successful in my professional life. I feel for the first time that I would be able to hold down a job in the future and be good at my job.

I would recommend anybody who is considering it to take part in The GO Wales programme. It not only increased my confidence, it increased my workplace knowledge and my ability to work in a team. It looks very good on your CV and shows your future employer that you are trying to secure relevant work experience. It can work around your studies as a lot of part-time jobs can be hard to fit around your University schedule. If you find it difficult to get your foot in the door and find your own work experience it is very useful. Also, it bridges the gap between being unemployed and full employment, helping people become used to the schedule and demands of working life. I hope you start this path on your own professional journey through the GO Wales Achieve through Work Experience project.


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