Ciarán Lavelle

As part of a BA course in object conservation at Cardiff University, I completed two months' work experience at the Museum of Transport in Glasgow. Working with highly accomplished conservators, I gained insights into the planning for the new Riverside Museum.

Being entrusted with the decision on displaying a brake-testing kit in the garage on the 1960s themed street gave me a positive sense of working within a team. This experience helped to convince me that heritage science was the career for me.

I then successfully applied for an intership at the Agora Excavations with the American School of Classical Studies in Greece, but it was a major challenge to find funding. I was fortunate that the Zibby Garnett Trust enabled me to take up the internship. In Athens I gained valuable experience working with seasoned conservators in an international context, as well as learning from my fellow interns. Besides having an active role in the excavation, I took part in discussions of decisions and treatments, and taught conservation to the archaeology interns and visiting summer school classes.

I worked with Heritage Without Borders on projects in Turkmenistan in 2013 and Kosovo in 2014. I had always been impressed by their work in conservation education and skills in countries where conservation is limited. These valuable work and life experiences, which enriched both my CV and my own concept of what it is to be a conservator, led to full-time paid employment on a variety of interesting projects. I developed the confidence to progress to more responsible roles, for example running my own conservation unit at an excavation in Qatar with the University of Wales.

I am now the lead interventive conservator at Birmingham Museums Trust, where we currently provide opportunities for conservation students and graduates to launch their own careers through practical experience gained over two-week placements. As a result of my own experiences I am an enthusiastic advocate for internships and work-based placements.