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Youth Forum X National Railway Museum

By April 2, 2024No Comments
Three young people from ethnic minority backgrounds stand behind microphones and stand smiling and addressing an audience out of shot.

Last week, Rebecca Turner, Senior Duty Manager at the National Railway Museum consulted with the Youth Forum about barriers to progression in customer-facing roles in museums. The evening event saw 7 members of the Youth Forum meeting with Rebecca over Zoom and they spent over an hour sharing experiences good, bad and ugly. An unexpected, yet very welcome, outcome of this meeting was the advice Rebecca Turner gave to members of the Youth Forum to help them advance their careers, these have been collated below.

Rebecca Turner’s Top Ten Tips for customer-facing role progression at museums


1. Role aspirations

Be clear about what your ideal role looks like and seek out live job descriptions for this role. If you can’t find any, ask your HR department/hiring manager if they have a job description for a recent role they’ve hired for your chosen field. Work to develop skills that match these descriptions. 

2. New Opportunities

Take up opportunities that come your way, even if only temporary, these opportunities will develop your permanent skills & give you examples to talk about in interviews! Let your line manager know you’re open to new opportunities and share your aspirations. 

3. Think Outside the Box

Is your employer is happy for you to develop your own mini-projects? Use this to your advantage! If you need to develop skills in managing people, offer to mentor new employees. If you need hiring skills, ask to sit on the next interview panel. Also, look for volunteering opportunities which address your skills gaps. If you’re missing fundamental soft skills, look at similar sectors to get that experience. 

4. Specific skills

If you need to develop a specific skill, why not email other organisations to understand how different processes work? Alternatively, you could volunteer for an organisation that offers the skills you need. 

5. Networking

Find the person in your organisation who sits in your ideal department. Ask them for a careers chat; how did they get to where they are, and what skills do they possess? Chat with ‘Heads of’ or Senior Leadership teams and ask about their career story. LinkedIn can be a great tool to network externally and see what other organisations are doing. Use this to inspire you in your next steps. 

6. Mentorship & Coaching

Seek out someone in your organisation whose role you aspire to be in and ask them to be your mentor. Remember to be persuasive and give good, thought-out reasons about why they should mentor you – they’re giving up time in their day voluntarily, so make sure you have a plan! 

7. Apprenticeships & Training

Look out for apprenticeships and other training courses you can do alongside work or within your working hours to bolster your skills. Most apprenticeships are funded by the government through your employer, so it’s always best to ask what’s available. You could fund short courses yourself, but make sure these are accredited by a regulating body. There are some great free learning resources with Open University. 

8. Celebrate!

Shout and celebrate your achievements, both in your workplace and with your peers, or externally on LinkedIn. Take control and keep track of your achievements. 

9. Job Applications

Make sure you showcase skills that align with the role you’re applying for, read the job description thoroughly and think of an example of each skill.  

10. Think Long-Term

Progressing your career may not happen overnight, most career journeys aren’t a smooth upward trajectory, instead they look a little wiggly, gaining experience in places you wouldn’t expect! Often, you can expect multiple rejections for the roles you thought you were perfect for, remain resilient and keep your eyes on your aspirations. Ensure you ask for detailed feedback and reflect on this to develop your skills gaps. 


Visitor Experience roles are often seen as an accessible route into arts, culture, and heritage because they share soft skills with hospitality, retail, and other customer-centred sectors. 

From a VE hiring manager, make sure you have the following skills and examples to share, should a job description require it: 

  • sales experience, 
  • understanding of individual giving (fundraising), 
  • good communication. 
  • An understanding of health & safety (particularly visitor safety) and conflict management can also be a bonus! 

Alongside these top tips, Rebecca shared what she is implementing for the staff she manages to help them progress. This includes inviting members of the Visitor Experience team at the National Railway Museum to sit on interview panels to gain valuable interviewing experience and, of course, giving them invaluable tips for progression. 


Do you have a question for the Youth Forum?

It is not only the National Railway Museum that is asking the Youth Forum to consult with them. They are being asked about subjects from progression opportunities and engaging young people in groups, to placemaking and Young Trustees. 

If you would like to find out more or share your own story, get in touch with Jess at or the Youth Forum’s Steering Committee at 

Find out more about the Youth Forum.


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