I first came across The Mills Archive in my first year of university in 2013, while I was wondering aimlessly around the stalls at the careers fair. I spoke to Elizabeth, who is the Librarian at the archive, and she made volunteering at the archive sound very interesting. I took some brochures and leaflets and researched the archive online when I got home. It all looked very exciting, however, I wasn’t sure about what I could contribute to the archive, having just started a graphic design course at the university. I knew nothing about archives, libraries or mills. As a result I never got back to Elizabeth, even though she gave me her contact details.
Exactly 2 years later, in my final year of university I was having another stroll through the stalls on the careers fair. During these 2 years, a lot has changed. I grained experience in volunteering through many organisations and charities, and lead many of my own projects. I learnt that you don’t have to be an expert in a specific field to volunteer in a particular organisation and to be able to contribute a valuable skill. Wondering through the volunteering fair this time, I felt more inquisitive and open to offers.
To my surprise, Elizabeth remembered me and approached me again. This time, when I got back home, I sent her an email with my CV and before I knew it I was involved with the archive as a graphic designer. One of my first jobs was to create an illustration for the From Quern to Computer project, which was one of the most challenging projects in my career so far. I haven't done much illustration before, and it was a good chance to practice this skill. It was a great project, as it required me to create something different to what I am usually asked to do as part of my course, and previous volunteering experiences.
I am very grateful to be involved with The Mills Archive, even though I am only at the beginning of my experience. I am already looking foreword to my next project, where I can create another piece of design for the archive and explore my own skills further. What I have learnt so far is that you can always help, and it doesn’t matter how much you know about the organisation and it’s field.