Making a speculative application isn’t as hard as you may think, says Isabella Hughes, Careers Information Adviser
Towards the end of my second year I thought it was a good idea to start thinking about what I wanted to do after graduation. With three months of summer ahead of me I wanted to fill it with useful experiences to help me think about where I saw myself working. An area I’d often considered was working in museums. As an anthropology student I was curious to see what possibilities lay in museums in the anthropological field. After a quick Google search I found that Cambridge had an anthropology museum. I identified contacts from its website and got in touch with the collections manager of anthropology and asked whether they had any opportunities for work experience during the summer months.
Making a speculative application can sound intimidating but it is simply a point of contact to find out if there are hidden opportunities. Writing the email seems daunting but a simple introduction of yourself, why you are interested in the museum and your reasons for contacting, easily summed up my intentions. A couple of weeks passed and the curator wrote back explaining there was little opportunity for short term paid work however, she could offer a 2 week period of shadowing towards the end of the summer. At first I was hesitant to accept because I was anxious about money. However, over the weeks awaiting her email I had also been applying for summer jobs and had a childminding and a stock taking job lined up. These would both be useful for my employability skills and also provided the financial opportunity to support myself through the summer and be able to accept the offer of work experience.
The 2 week work experience was fascinating. Learning about the upkeep of the collection, how to store items properly and the different projects the museum was involved in, really sparked my interest. However, I also came to realise the nature of the work was not right for me. I work best when working with people. The museum job entailed spending a lot of time with the collection and I just could not envision myself in this role. Coming to the realisation that this field of work was not for me was actually a big relief. It allowed me to refocus and be confident that no two jobs are the same and there is a huge variety of opportunities in the job market.
The part time jobs also helped me save some money for travelling in the summer of my third year and gave me relevant experience for a festival job that I applied for later on in the summer.
http://edin.ac/summer2017 for more about finding summer opportunities and getting recognition for them.