Last Wednesday I attended a one-day conference entitled ‘The Future’s Bright 2012’ directed at early career researchers within the University of Brighton. I thought I would say a few words about my experience at this event; since I am not a PhD student or an academic I was somewhat nervous about attending but am glad I did as the day gave me a lot of food for thought.
The two phrases that really stuck in my mind were ‘research informed learning’ and ‘applied research’. I would like to think that what I do as part of the Design Archives’ team could be filed under ‘applied research’. I personally see this particular phrase as an activity that enhances what you do and helps you to understand why and how you do things. I spend a fraction of my working time – as well as my own time – researching developments in the paper conservation world (and related matters) and try to bring these findings to practice. I feel that this action in itself could be categorised as ‘research informed learning’.
Tips and hints I took with me from the breakout sessions were varied. For advanced researchers this may come as no news, but a great tip was to create yourself something called an ‘elevator pitch’. This is a descriptive paragraph in which you engage people in what it is you do in a clear and concise manner, avoiding jargon and complex language. For me personally, this was a really useful exercise as it made me think of all the aspects of my job, how they can be explained clearly and how all the aspects of it link together.
Another other important point that was made was to make sure that you offer difference and/or challenges in your field of interest. It was also very interesting to actively think about the people that have influenced and had an impact on a career path along the way and what a massive difference a supportive and encouraging working environment makes. Confident networking and the use of social media were also emphasised.
As a sidenote, it was lovely to be reminded to remember how I became interested in conservation. I had already worked at the Design Archives for 5 or so years when a work-related meeting took place at the Tate in London. As part of the day we were given a tour of their conservation studio. From that quick 10 minute tour with their conservator, I knew instantly the profession was something I wanted to pursue. I do not know if the same person is still working there and sadly I can not recall her name but I would like to pass on a heartfelt thank you for making a very inspiring ‘elevator pitch’. Needless to say, she presented her work in a clear, concise and jargon-avoiding manner! And it made all the difference.