Learning - Student engagement

The Great North Museum: Hancock is part of Newcastle University and supports student learning and research in lots of ways.

One of the things that we are passionate about is providing high quality placements to support career development through work experiences which aim to develop specialist skills to support graduate employment.

Here are some testimonials from past placement students about their experience working with the learning team at the Great North Museum: Hancock. 


"I studied my degree at Newcastle in Archaeology and English. I did a placement at GNM: Hancock in my third year, having done a couple of modules in museums and heritage in my first year, and volunteered at museums during the summer vacations. The placement I did at GNM: Hancock helped me develop skills in research, organising volunteers and engaging with the public. It encouraged me to study for an MA in heritage and gave me invaluable experience in informal learning and working with visitors that has led me to become the Learning Officer for a museum in Warwickshire."


"I studied BA History and Archaeology at Newcastle University, and chose the final year Career Development Module as it balanced perfectly with my dissertation and other modules. I had already been volunteering a little at the museum, and gained experience in leading history workshops. Using the volunteering with the Career Development Module meant I could gain academic recognition for my role at the museum. I became more confident in working with young people and delivering content that related to collections at the GNM. Thanks to the placement, I was able to gain a casual paid position, which worked perfectly alongside my MA in History. I also felt more able to apply for jobs, such as Graduate Ambassador, that required public speaking and the development of material for use in schools." 


"In the final year of my Ancient History degree, I completed a work experience placement with the museum learning team. The placement helped me to decide to pursue a career in museum learning and engagement. I then went on to complete a Museum Studies MA at Newcastle University, opting for a part-time study option so that I could gain practical experience in the sector through volunteering. 

The GNM team kindly allowed me to become a weekly volunteer. By volunteering I developed my skills in; working with children and volunteers, research, planning, designing and delivering activities and public engagement. Upon graduating, this experience allowed me to become an Assistant Learning Officer for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. I now work in a range of museums across the city, including the Great North Museum."  


"My time spent volunteering at the Great North Museum as part of the career development module of my undergrad has proven invaluable to me. Not only because I was able to gain experience in developing learning resources for school children, communicating science to visitors, and working as part of a team to develop exhibitions, but also because I have made friends with whom I remain in contact after almost 5 years. Currently I am a trainee science teacher, and many of the skills I discussed at interview that led me to success came from my time at the museum. I highly recommend taking advantage of their volunteer opportunities, whether for professional development, or simply enjoyment."


"While at Newcastle University I studied a BSc in Zoology. In the second year we undertook an employability skills module which involved a job placement; I was lucky enough to get one of the placements at the Great North Museum. I was looking to do something palaeontology-related, as this is where my interests lie, and the museum provided me with a position on the Learning Team making educational resources about fossils, evolution and prehistoric life – a dream come true!

The skills I learned in science communication, organisation, task management and educating others have been very useful, not least because it helps my CV stand out. I would recommend getting a placement in a museum if you are interested in palaeontology, or similar subjects around the natural world." 


"As part of my microbiology PhD at the University of Sheffield funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, I had to complete an internship in an organisation away from my research, to develop my transferable skills and gain experience outside of academia. I approached the GNM:Hancock as I am interested in science communication and outreach and was also interested to find out more about the curation of museums. They were kind enough to take me on for my internship from April to July 2019 – coinciding with the amazing Dippy on Tour exhibition, which was really exciting to be able to play a small part in!

I was based in the Learning team where I helped with teaching in the workshops for primary school students, which I particularly enjoyed, as well as some of the early years activities. I found the teaching side really fulfilling, and the team were lovely to work with, offering advice and encouragement. I also got the chance to be creative and developed some resources including a museum trail. Additionally I spent some time with the Natural Sciences team in stores working with the museum collections, which appealed to my scientist’s inclination to want to sort and categorise things! It was really interesting to see “behind the scenes” at the museum in this way and handle the collections. My internship was definitely a success; I developed my professional skills, particularly working in a team and having to think on my feet, and communicating with and engaging the pupils in the workshops. I feel like I grew in confidence through the internship. It was a bit daunting at first to go head first into such a new working environment for me, but the museum staff made me feel very welcome and it has helped me to think about what I’d like to do in the future after my PhD."


"While studying Combined Honours at Newcastle University I chose to take the Career Development module. As part of this module I did a placement at the Great North Museum in the Early Years Learning team. The experience I gained from my placement has helped me develop skills that will be indispensable for my future career. I now have confidence working with children and have learnt how to be an effective leader. My development would not have progressed without the excellent support from the team at the museum.

I would highly recommend a placement at the GNM to anyone considering it. Not only do you gain invaluable learning but the experience is also fun and rewarding."