My name is Samina and I’m an 18-year-old student currently studying Applied Science at Bolton Sixth Form College. With my science background, I was eager to start my first volunteering role at the museum and become a part of the fascinating exhibition, The Sun. Looking back at it now, I only wish I had started sooner!
Volunteering at a museum or gallery is a fantastic way to enhance your understanding of how heritage organisations operate. This was my goal in the beginning; to have hands-on experience of what it would be like in a workplace environment. With my passion for history and science, I knew a museum was the place to be. And not just any museum: the Science and Industry Museum. The place I now call my second home!
To suddenly become part of the volunteering team felt quite intimidating at first, but the second I got to meet my co-workers and other volunteers, it was like I’d known them forever.
I have been volunteering at the museum for a couple of months now and each day is better than the last. After every shift I leave the building having learned a new fact or lesson, be it from one of the extraordinary exhibitions or galleries, or from one of the team!
I’m happy to say that volunteering has helped me grow as a person and recognize and acknowledge a different aspect of the world. The Sun exhibition helped with that, revealing how the Sun is and has been a part of every culture around the world (even my own!), and how we discover and explain the concept of it more and more each day, especially with the European Space Agency’s new Solar Orbiter, which was launched in February 2020.
I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to inspire and communicate with visitors, who were always so friendly, which helped make my experience so amazing! And that was not the only positive; I recently had a university interview, in which I was able to talk about all the support I received from everyone at the museum and all the new skills I’ve developed. For example, learning how to communicate with different age groups and improving my confidence, especially in a team.
My interviewer was so satisfied with my work that I received an offer to study Earth and Planetary Science at The University of Manchester in the next academic year! This was amazing yet shocking news, considering how hard it is to be accepted into university via a BTEC course. It proved that hard work really does pay off, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my volunteering role; I would do it all over again if I could!
About Samina’s time at the museum, Bolton College said:
“Samina has completed 350 hours of work experience at the Science and Industry Museum, alongside her studies for her BTEC Applied Science course at The Sixth Form Bolton. We have been piloting these 350-hour industry placements in preparation for the new Technical Level qualifications being rolled out by the government.
“A key part of these new qualifications is a 45–60 day placement. These placements should be matched to the students’ career goals, and as Samina wants to go on to study Planetary Sciences, her placement on The Sun exhibition within the museum has been a great fit. During her placement Samina has grown in confidence as she has been guiding visitors in the museum. This placement has given her the chance to improve her communication skills, as she has had to deliver talks to different groups of visitors aged anywhere from 3–70, and has had to adapt her communication style and language to suit her audience.
“She has really enjoyed being in a position to inspire the next generation to take an interest in STEM subjects. Following an interview, Samina has received an offer from the University of Manchester to study Planetary Sciences. I am confident that the fact she has completed this placement played a part in her securing this offer, as it will have given her an edge against her peers. The museum has been very supportive of Samina during her placement, ensuring she was well looked after. This placement has been a great success story for all involved and we look forward to working with the museum in the near future to offer more opportunities to our students.”