Joseph McGeady, Learning team apprentice

Joseph McGeady

Joseph applied for an apprenticeship in the British Library's Learning team. His role involved supporting access tours of the exhibitions for deaf visitors, assisting with creative workshops and overseeing online courses about specialist topics such as Old English.

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I would definitely recommend the British Library’s Early Careers scheme to young people

How I got here

I have always had a strong interest in history and museums and was confident from an early age that I would like to work in a museum or cultural heritage related job role.

However, in my final years of secondary school, I was advised that the only route into the cultural heritage sector was via university. Although I had sufficient qualifications, as a young person with autism I felt that university wasn’t quite right for me. My preferred style of learning is through real-life practical experience, rather than in a more theoretical classroom type setting. I had heard about apprenticeship schemes and thought having the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience would be the best way for me to enter the sector. To maximise my chances of acceptance onto an apprenticeship scheme, I set out to gain some actual work experience in local museums during holiday periods and through other opportunities such as internships.

I was lucky to land various work experience placements before my apprenticeship, including a year long supported internship with Hillingdon Council.

Towards the end of my internship, I started looking for apprenticeship opportunities in museums. I came across an apprenticeship in the British Library’s Learning team. As an autistic person with an avid interest in cultural heritage and a frequent museum visitor, I felt that I would be a good fit for the role. I decided to apply, as I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to gain some valuable practical experience and increase my knowledge and experience of the cultural heritage sector. After a comprehensive recruitment process, I was successful in securing the apprenticeship and started at the Library in September 2021.

What I do now

Although the Learning team offers a range of programmes aimed at different audiences, the two main areas I support are the access and Outreach and adult learning programmes. The aspect I enjoy most about my role is its variety. I can be involved in supporting access tours of the exhibitions for visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing; or assisting with creative workshops aimed at explaining the role of the Library to visitors who speak English as a second language. Other times, I may help oversee online courses about a specialist topic such as Old English; or support colleagues with a Family Day.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here so far and it has been a great introduction to the world of work. Throughout the apprenticeship, my colleagues have been consistently supportive and understanding of my autism and ensured that I truly feel an integral part of the team. I am confident that the experiences gained will prove invaluable when applying for future opportunities. I would definitely recommend the British Library’s Early Careers scheme to young people considering employment in the cultural heritage sector – as securing the chance to work at one of the UK’s most important such institutions has truly been an incredible experience!

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