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Sarah - advice
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Name: Sarah
PhD discipline: Architectural History
Area(s) of work: Heritage administration; freelance writer
Year of graduation: 2004
Date of Interview: 19/06/2008

Now Playing: Sarah - advice
Sarah talks about the importance of gaining volunteering experience whilst studying for a PhD.

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The benefits of volunteering and networking

A really important thing I've found was to do voluntary things to get involved. I started getting involved when I was a student. The academic community, and the broader community in which you work because of the people that you might meet. Not just for networking from a commercial point of view but actually from a research point of view; if you are meeting people in the field, even in the broader field, they know people who know people who might be able to help with your PhD research. That is all really important and I think that with voluntary work, if you put the time in, people recognise that and people remember it. When you are going to apply for a job that also looks very good.

Can you plot the different voluntary work that you've done? 

Before starting my PhD I did some volunteering for Save Britain's Heritage, and a bit for Country Life. Through my PhD I also got involved with a group called The Association For The Study Of Travel To Egypt And The Near East, which is very specialised. But I gave a paper at one of their conferences and as a result of that I was invited onto the committee. I was involved in editing book reviews and that was really useful training. Then I was on The Committee For The Society Of Architectural Historians for seven years and I was doing conference organising for them and that was supremely useful in getting to know people in the field that I would otherwise just not have access to. That was very useful in helping me get a job because I had extremely good referees from the field because I had made friends with them. And the knowledge they could impart was incredibly helpful. When I was working for The Victorian Society, I was working well beyond my normal hours doing additional volunteering for them. I spent a weekend and evenings and I continue to do that because it wasn't the kind of job where it was ever just a job. It was something that I really enjoyed doing and I have an affinity for it. If I help them organising events, they raise money for their core activities and I get my name on their publicity. It is a way for me to set up lecture series in which I give my own lectures.

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