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Review of Historic England BAME Work Placement by Whitney Christopher

After four weeks with our Government Advice Team (September - October 2016), Whitney Christopher reviews the Historic England BAME work placement.

Overall I had a positive experience with Historic England. I found all of my interactions, meetings and introductions to be helpful and informative. I not only learned about Historic England, but the heritage sector in general.

I enjoyed the research I did and greatly appreciated being a part of the team. The work I conducted was new, but relevant, and I was made to feel that I brought a new perspective and skill set to it. Everyone made me feel included and was very gracious to me when I needed help.

What I enjoyed the most were the meetings and visits I was able to participate in. I got to experience many facets of the organisation. This was the most helpful because I learned that there are many more aspects to and avenues into the heritage sector beyond the ‘traditional’ routes that I knew about or had seen advertised.

The only issue that I had arose at introductions. I didn't like being introduced as the BAME work placement person. While it’s important for employees to understand why you are involved, if felt like ‘tokenism’ to be introduced at events and meetings in this way. After all, isn’t the aim of the action plan to integrate other cultures and races into the work environment so they are not seen as different, but are a part of the standard?

I gained a lot of invaluable experience and skills that are transferrable. More importantly, I discovered the skills that I already have. No matter how normal they are for me, they can be new and relevant in any new environment.

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