Interning with the JORVIK Group

Posted on 24 August 2015

Report on an IPUP internship

Will Manners
MA in History by Research, 2015

Interning with the JORVIK Group represented an exciting opportunity for me on a number of levels. My first memory of public history is the excitement I felt going on the ride at JORVIK’s Viking centre when I was seven years old, and I am quite ashamed to admit that during my time as an undergraduate and postgraduate studying history at York, I had never revisited the site which, along with the Horrible Histories series, first kindled my love of history.

As such, my first day working for JORVIK, in which I was able to go round all of their attractions in York for free, will in all likelihood never be surpassed as my best first day in a new job. Not only did I get to go on the Viking ride again, but I was able to visit the Henry VII Museum and Barley Hall, which much to my delight, make very good use of clips from the TV adaptations of Horrible Histories. Who knew you could get paid to reconnect with your childhood self?

However, I have gained much more from my internship than again experiencing the wide-eyed, worry free delights of childhood. As a result of it, I now feel much better prepared for the (still rather scary) adult world of work.

As an intern, I was given a number of research tasks, which will inform future JORVIK events. As part of their work on Richard III and Henry VII, the JORVIK Group will soon be running a guided tour along the city walls between the Monk and Micklegate Bars, where they have museums on both of these monarchs respectively. I was tasked with researching interesting facts about medieval York, particularly connected with Richard and Henry, which guides could use at various stages of the tour.

Not only did this help me further develop my research and writing skills, but it also introduced me to a number of facts about York I was previously unfamiliar with. I never knew, for example, that up until the start of the nineteenth century the area around the Minster was not a part of the city of York, but rather had its own laws, courts and police force. Or that in 1501 a huge knocker was attached to Bootham Bar, which any Scottish person entering the city had to use before awaiting permission to enter the city.

I have also learnt a huge amount about how JORVIK are able to use events and museums to really engage the public with history. One of the most stand-out experiences I had for JORVIK was working on one of their events in Octon, a very small village about an hour’s drive to the north of York. The event they were running was a medieval fayre, which contained a number of attractions such as archery, a medieval fighting school, and a display of hunting birds.

JORVIK Group event, 2015

I was given the opportunity to fully participate in this event, helping run an arts and crafts stall. Not only this, but I was also given medieval costume to dress up in (I can only apologise for not being able to find any photos of this to attach to this report).

Working at the fayre gave me a huge range of experiences, from interacting with the public to working as a part of a very well-oiled and knowledgeable team. As well as this, on my next day at the office I wrote a report on how I thought the day had gone, and potential areas of improvement. Speaking about this with my manager helped further my expertise in how organisations can not only use events, but social media and Twitter to creating really engaging popular history.

Not only did the internship represent the most enjoyable money I have ever earnt, but the range of skills I have developed, and the contacts I have made should benefit my career in a number of areas. The research and personal skills I have picked up along the way have been very useful in writing post-MA job applications, and will also be a good talking point for any interviews I have. A big thank you to IPUP, and my manager at JORVIK, for making this experience possible.