In another guest blog, Placement Student Amna Khan discusses her recent placement at the PHM.
A student at the University of Manchester pursuing a Management and Leisure degree, I chose the People’s History Museum to carry out my placement in order to complete an assignment. I was at the Museum for a mere ten days but in that time I was able to assimilate myself within the organization interacting with the friendly staff and observing visitors for an hour each day. This experience gave me a real life taste of how a leisure business functions on a day to day basis.
Within the first few days, I helped out front of house communicating with customers, shadowed the commercial income officer processing invoices and posted blogs as well as videos. As the museum is a charitable organization, the former tasks helped me to understand an atmosphere of retail, one quite different to one that may be found in a business pursuing profit maximization or growth. The latter to an extent was a situation in which I was interacting further with customers as well as realizing the true potential of market research campaigns such as the video-booth.
I also was given the opportunity to meet with two senior members of staff learning about the structure and culture of the organization. One of which being a Human Resources Manager, which is what I aspire to be so it would be apt to state my career decision was further confirmed. On my last day, I shadowed the Development Officer in her meeting with a bride to be as the museum also organizes events and meetings.
Although it is certainly difficult to pinpoint the element I found most stimulating, if I was to choose it would be the observing of visitor behaviour during the observational research for an hour each day. Perhaps because it meant that I was able to understand human behaviour in a context quite different to what would be laid out in a textbook. It was also useful to me to design a panel titled “Your vote is beyond important” for National Voter Registration Day, a day that aims to inspire young people to vote. Though many people feel their vote does not matter, it is imperative to know even a single vote can make a difference and we must not reject this right of ours if we want change within the country.
In summary, the People’s History Museum represents a history of revolution and change in Britain and as my supervisor stated in our very first conversation, “a museum of ideas”. As well as that, the rich heritage entwined within the collections brings to life these ideas as I found out during the object handling induction. I will be returning to the museum for the next month or so to read Hitler’s memoirs, “Mein Kampf” in the museum’s archive.