Guest blog: Millie Weller talks about her Work Placement

5th March 2019 / Museum, Museum blog

I am a student from Wiltshire College studying Travel & Tourism at the Chippenham campus. My course includes researching and learning about the Tourism Industry in terms of its growth, employment opportunities and so much more. We are encouraged to undergo a 60 hour work experience placement during the first year of the course and I decided to complete my placement at Chippenham Museum. I chose the museum as I love anything to do with history and working in a museum is one of the pathways I may take in later life. During my placement, I have learnt new skills that I can now confidently use in my coursework and in daily life. I have met new people and further grown my connections and know that I have grown a good support network.

During my placement, I got the opportunity to try new things and even help organise, plan and oversee a half-term event! The first few weeks of my placement was basically finding my way around how the museum runs and participating in different events and tasks. I helped out with the Under 5’s Discovery Time on my first day, a little hectic and noisy but a great joy seeing children being children and having fun. During October half-term, I helped with the Spooktacular event for children. This involved making cauldrons out of yogurt pots, string, bottle tops and pieces of fabric, and fake wounds using PVA glue, tissues, paint, cocoa powder and fake blood. It was very messy but none-the-less; it was a lot of fun. I did a lot of research for many different things, such as Museum Shop Sunday and Chippenham’s canal. I even dressed up as a WW1 nurse for the re-enactment of the torch light procession in November (I’m standing at the front in the picture below).

Millie and other volunteers dressed as First World War nurses

Taking part in the museum’s WW1 re-enactment in November

The highlight during my time at the museum was planning and overseeing the annual February half-term event that the museum organises with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust. This event was about the canal that used to come into Chippenham and stopped at the bus station in the centre of town, formally known as The Wharf. This involved a lot of research, planning and organising to get the event underway. I had a budget to stick to as well which was no problem. The event itself was spread over two days and was held in the Yelde Hall. I got to work alongside with some of the volunteers from Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and learn more about why they are restoring the canal.

Millie standing with volunteers from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust with activities in the background

With volunteers from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

My favourite part when organising the event was putting together a children’s trail for the museum. I came up with the idea to have a “canal cat” called Charlie who would “lead” children around the museum to complete the trail and also used toy rubber ducks as part of it. I successfully managed to put together a booklet that had questions about the canal and used the ducks, with thought bubbles hanging from a thread, to give clues to help as well as facts. I am still very proud of how the booklet and the trail came together and got wonderful feedback from some of the staff at the museum. When overseeing the main event over at the Yelde Hall, I got the chance to have a go at some of the activities that were put together as well as help out when needed. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust and have even thought about going into Event Management, but that is not a definite.

Charlie the toy canal cat and a plastic duck, in the museum galleries as spots on a museum trail

Charlie the canal cat and one of the ducks that children had to spot on the trail

Overall, I enjoyed my time completing my work placement at Chippenham Museum and give a big thanks to Claire Selman and the rest of the team who welcomed me into the museum. I have learnt so many new skills with them and my team working, communication and IT skills have greatly improved. With my course, I am looking forward to the UCAS Erasmus Scheme in my second year as it offers a four-week work placement abroad which will hopefully open up new pathways to explore. Once again, a huge thank you to everyone at Chippenham Museum who has allowed me to complete my work experience, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write this blog and wouldn’t have learnt the new skills I now have!

Millie Weller
Wiltshire College work experience placement student, February 2019