STEP: POV Diaries w/ Salma

Salma reveals how the STEP programme led her to discover her creativity and explore a new career path

25 July 2023

Q. What is your name and where are you based?

My name is Salma and I am a born and raised east Londoner from Tower Hamlets.

Q. Why did you decide to apply for this opportunity?

I graduated in 2022 with a BA in Ancient History and at the time I dreamed of working in museum education. I remember being told by my university tutor that the only way I could ever work in museum education was if I undertook a Masters in Museum Education and volunteered at museums (whilst studying and working part-time). It was an incredibly disheartening thing to hear. But one day, I was doing research into career paths when I graduated and came across the Good Growth Hub and New Direction’s website where the STEP programme was being advertised.

I decided to apply for the STEP programme because I was incredibly excited at the prospect of getting to work in museum education and having the support of the GGH team guiding me through, what I liked to call, my first “big girl job”.

Q. What is your most memorable moment from this experience and why?

For one year I worked at UCL as a School’s Engagement assistant through STEP. I ran and helped to facilitate workshops for primary and secondary-aged students from underrepresented backgrounds in east London. The workshops were curriculum based and had a specific focus on using the resources available at the various UCL museums. I got to meet and work with incredible people and had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects. The standout project for me was getting to create and design my own activity worksheets that were used by students in east London and museums in Egypt and getting to film a short series for the Petrie Museum where I got to investigate ancient Egyptian artefacts with Dr Anna Garnett.

Hearing from my colleagues in Egypt about the positive reception that my work was receiving from local children gave me a massive confidence boost and was a step in the right direction in combatting the imposter syndrome I felt. Working at UCL, I was able to recognise museums as an untapped educational resource and my hope for the future is that museums become an integral part of the British education system.

What is your favourite project that you’ve worked on during this experience, and what makes it stand out for you?

I also had the opportunity to co-curate an exhibition with my fellow trainees to celebrate the opening of the new UCL East campus. Curating was a new experience for me, however, I was able to learn about what goes into delivering an event on that scale. We held a final celebration event for the exhibition which was a success, and seeing the reaction of the students to their artwork made the experience incredibly rewarding.

(Here I am delivering a speech at the final celebration event)

Q. How has taking part in an ‘A New Direction’ programme helped you with this opportunity?

Coming into this experience I would not have described myself as a creative, in fact, I was convinced that I did not have a creative bone in my body. However, my time at STEP completely altered my idea of what creativity means. As part of the STEP programme, I would meet monthly with fellow trainees for workshops held at GGH. Being surrounded by peers who were talented and creative photographers, dancers, poets and musicians sparked something in me that led to me finding my own creativity. Six months into my placement, I designed and launched my blog titled ‘Chronically Online' where I share my thoughts and feelings on all things film, tv, music and pop culture.

Since launching my blog, I have had over 3,000 people read and support it from across the world. Sharing my thoughts and feelings through my blog and social media has been empowering. Being in a creative and incredibly supportive environment at the Good Growth Hub allowed me to tap into my creativity and create work I am immensely proud of.

The STEP programme also provided me with a mentor who was instrumental in my journey of discovering my creativity. My mentor offered a listening ear, was incredibly encouraging and offered points of improvement on the work I produced.

Q. How has this experience benefited you or your career?

I began my journey thinking I would pursue a career in Museum education; however, the programme allowed me to come into the realisation that my true passion was in media and I now hope to pursue a career in PR for music and film. One year ago, I was a timid person frightened of what my future in the creative sector would like. But today I have full faith in myself thanks to the confidence instilled in me through the STEP programme. Although I will not pursue a career in museum education, I am forever grateful for the opportunity provided through my STEP placement at UCL as the supportive environment created by everyone involved has meant I have picked up a plethora of transferable skills.

You may also be interested in...