College of Arts Alumni: Where are they now? (Part 1)

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Ever wondered where a postgraduate degree might take you? 

Two Glasgow postgraduates share their experiences.

Where are they now? And how did their postgraduate study in the College of Arts help them get there?


Meet Alex Jones

Alex JonesAlex Jones is Assistant Curator at the V&A East in London, U.K. She graduated with an MSc in Museum Studies (Artefacts and Material Culture) in 2015. She writes:

‘Before moving to London, I was working as a gallery attendant at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh while I finished off my dissertation. Shortly after finishing my studies, I got a job as a cataloguer in the Word and Image department at the Victoria and Albert Museum. My role was to assist with the digitisation of the museum’s huge collection of prints, drawings and photography. I am now on secondment to the museum’s Design, Architecture and Digital department as an Assistant Curator. I work as part of the research team for the new V&A East museum, which will be based in the Olympic Park.’

Considering the impact of her studies on her current career, she explains:

‘At school I had always said that I wanted to be a museum curator some day, but I ended up going down a very different path after my undergraduate studies. When I applied for the MSc in Museum Studies I had been working for a software company in Edinburgh for nearly seven years. One day I decided it was time for a career change and started idly searching for ideas online. I came across the MSc at Glasgow and everything fell into place! I had always loved visiting Glasgow and it seemed like the perfect place to study this subject, especially with the university having its very own museum in the form of the Hunterian.

Gaining the MSc was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It gave me the perfect introduction to the world of museum work and helped to confirm that this was definitely the sector that I wanted to pursue a new career in. In my second semester, I was assigned a work placement in the British Art department at Glasgow Museums. This was one of the best parts of the course, as it equipped me with practical skills and experience and enabled me to put some of the knowledge gained on the other modules to good use. Without the course, I would not have landed my job at the V&A, one of my favourite museums. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome!’

Alex’s postgraduate study enabled her to join a profession she’d been dreaming of since her childhood. Find out more about the postgraduate degree that Alex studied here. V & E East, a new museum hub in the Olympic Park area of East London, is scheduled to open in 2020.

Meet James Coleman

James Coleman works in the Development and Alumni Office at the University of Glasgow as Database Manager. He graduated with a PhD in Scottish History in 2006. His book Remembering the Past in Nineteenth-Century Scotland was published in 2014. Discussing the relationship between his research and his current career, he writes:

‘While I was doing my PhD, I worked part-time for the Development and Alumni Office managing their database, using the experience I had gained from my working life before I went to university as a mature student. Upon completing my PhD, I was uncertain about whether I wanted to continue into academia, so when the Development and Alumni Office offered me more stable work I was happy to accept.

I’ve been at the DAO since 2002, working my way up to my current position of Database Manager. I manage three staff and am responsible for maintaining the quality and infrastructure of the information we, as well ensuring that information is used to guide and support our alumni engagement and fundraising strategy.

At the same time, I don’t regret not having pursued an academic career. A few years ago, I was offered a contract by Edinburgh University Press to publish a book based on my thesis. Knowing that the thesis as it stood would not make a very satisfying book, I entirely rewrote it in my evenings and weekends. My book, Remembering the Past in Nineteenth-Century Scotland, came out in 2014, and is certainly one of my most significant personal and professional achievements.

While a PhD in Scottish History is by no means directly relevant to my current post, I have certainly found that the analytical and communication skills I developed as a postgraduate have been of significant benefit.’

Learn about the range of exciting opportunities for postgraduate study in the History. Access the Alumni web pages to find out more about the work that goes on in James’s office.

Post Author: Rachel

Rachel is a PhD candidate in the School of Culture and Creative Arts. Rachel supports the UofGArts Blog as a contributing writer.

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