As part of our campaign to #BuildBackFairer, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the movers and shakers working in the creative and cultural sector and asking them to share their insight and advice for those at the start of their careers.
Harri Macguire was part of the first year of our Cultural Ambition project in 2018, a long-term training programme providing young people in Wales with skills and work experience across the cultural heritage sector. He has since gone on to be employed by one of our Cultural Ambition placement hosts, the National Waterfront Museum, part of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.
Tell us one thing about your job that we probably don’t know about?
Gallery Assistants play a huge role in the operation of museums from maintaining visitor safety and taking on board feedback to answering questions about the objects and local area. It’s not just making sure people don’t touch the objects!
What’s the biggest challenge facing young people wishing to enter the cultural sector right now?
There is a lack of starting roles in the industry in general right now, it’s a slow process with most people working zero-hour contracts which is unappealing for those who need money to pay for housing and such. Projects like the (Cultural Ambition) skills traineeship are fantastic opportunities to try some new roles and get a veritable well of unique skills, as well as the opportunity to see just how diverse the roles are in the cultural sector. I think further barriers to entry come from a lack of mid-range jobs, there are very few roles between starter roles and management positions, jobs such as assistants to senior roles would help people who have come from alternative education paths to learn the ropes of more advanced and specialist jobs.
If you could give your 16-year-old self some career advice, what would it be?
Things don’t change unless we change them, I spent the first few years after college just sort of coasting expecting things to just happen, I was in a slump and then I decided to actively take up the traineeship which has led me to where I am now. Some of the other advice I would give myself would be to enjoy what you can of any job, all jobs have bad and good points, even dream jobs and focusing on the parts you like makes the stuff you don’t like a little more bearable.
What’s been the most surprising moment of your training and career journey so far?
That’s a tricky one, moving to work from education was full of strange moments, probably the most surprising was when I realised that I was loving working at the Parc Howard Museum in Llanelli, the building and people really worked their charms on me, I loved helping out and seeing more people coming through the doors and leaving comments based on my actions.
Who’s your professional hero?
This again is a really hard one. I’ll start with people that were heroes to me in my work placements. Thanks to Sarah, John, Kelly and the rest of the staff from the National Waterfront Museum for helping me get accustomed to working the building and for giving great world advice. Thanks to Nicola, Richard, Morrigan, Laura and Dan for being fantastic mentors and figures during my Traineeship and for showing me how to behave in the workplace.
In terms of people I look up to in a professional sense I look up to people like Terry Pratchett who showed me that it’s never too late to change what you do and make fantastic stories. I also look up to people like Greta Thunberg who work tirelessly to make the world a better place for all and face every challenges with a sense of quiet determination.
Find out more about the National Waterfront Museum on their website.