What’s it like to be a trainee? Ben Peirson-Smith, Graduate Trainee Digital Archivist 2017-2019

I started my traineeship after completing my BA in History at Aberystwyth University, my interest in the archive sector started with two internships, the first being with The Hong Kong Heritage Project in 2014, and the second being with Hong Kong University in 2015. Both of these internships showed me how important archives are from a cultural heritage standpoint and from an education standpoint.

The traineeship at the Bodleian presents graduates with a golden ticket into the archive world, giving hands-on training in many different aspects of collection management whilst also helping you to study towards a recognised qualification. The work and study complement each other nicely, and with mentorship from experienced members you rarely feel lost. In addition, the opportunity to start alongside five new trainees has also proven to be immensely helpful as we are developing not only individually but as a team.

The work we have undertaken so far has been extremely varied, our schedules consist of work on Conservative Party Archive, the United Nations, enquiries and digital work in BEAM, each presents its own set of unique challenges and invaluable insight into how archives are run. The work is consistently challenging alongside being endlessly interesting.

The traineeship’s focus on digital archiving showcases the direction the industry is taking. The digital aspects of the traineeship, especially work in BEAM and Web Archiving, has shown us the importance of born-digital preservation and digitation projects and how avoiding a digital ‘dark age’ is hugely important.

The distance learning diploma at Aberystwyth forms an important aspect of the traineeship, the work and study balance is by no means easy but the overlap between many aspects of study and work is particularly useful and means that development at work compliments development academically. In addition, the benefits of emerging from the traineeship with a qualification also cannot be understated and will hugely increase my career prospects in the archive sector.

Part of the traineeship involves attending various archive related events across the UK, these should prove helpful as they both promote the development of new skills and also present a platform for meeting new members of the archive community.

In short, being a trainee at the Bodleian is a unique learning experience that will form the cornerstone of my professional development into the archive sector, it is also something I am very grateful to be a part of.

Ben Peirson-Smith, May 2017

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.