Cultural managements

Supporting new professionals: the Association of European Students for Cultural Heritage

Thanks for talking to us! Tell us about ESACH.

Thanks for inviting us! We are truly grateful for the platform and support that Europeana provides to new and young professionals in the heritage sector. The European Students Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) is a youth-led network of cultural heritage students and young professionals based on the principles of interdisciplinarity and peer-to-peer learning. It was created in 2017, on the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, to highlight the point of view of younger generations on cultural issues. Since then, ESACH has successfully established itself as a significant player in the heritage landscape in Europe, particularly in the representation of young voices.

What can you tell us about your members?

As of February 2022, ESACH has 504 members from 49 countries. The majority of our members are students or doctoral students, but we also have members who are young graduates and young professionals. Our members are most active in the fields of heritage management (29%), architecture and urban planning (23%) and archeology (7%). The majority of our members (76%) are women.

What projects are you currently focusing on?

2022 promises to be an exciting year for youth and cultural heritage! We are developing a number of projects, thanks to the collaboration with our wonderful partners. We are currently on the second edition of the Young Ambassadors of European Heritage program, in partnership with Europa Nostra and the Tribune du patrimoine européen. The Europa Nostra/EN internship program is also active, providing practical work experience for three to four young people per year. We also look forward to carrying out other activities to support our members in improving their employability, so stay tuned for more news!

We are also focusing on a new series of ESACH talks. These are fast-paced, interactive events that provide a platform for knowledge sharing between students and young professionals working in the field of cultural heritage studies. This year, the ESACH Talks will focus on the European Year of Youth and highlight youth initiatives in the field of heritage across Europe.

Finally, we will publish further editions of The ESACH Quarterly: a peer-reviewed magazine with international reach that provides an open-access space for the dissemination of different experiences and viewpoints regarding cultural heritage.

What role does digital technology, practices or engagement play in your work?

Digital technologies are essential to our work: as a remote network supported by volunteers from a dozen different countries, we could not exist without technologies such as social media and remote collaboration tools. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to go completely online, expanding our network far beyond what is physically accessible. At the same time, moving online has made activities more accessible and reduced costs, allowing us to do more with fewer resources and greater impact.

Over the past two years, ESACH’s work on digital media has taken on new importance and vitality. Our content development plan takes into account the main concerns of our network members to highlight the type of information they want and need: internships, jobs, calls for papers, practical workshops and opportunities for dialogue . We’re always looking for fun new ways to connect with our network through a wide range of social media platforms.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the cultural heritage sector?

There are a number of things you can do! Stay informed and don’t be afraid to seek out mentorship opportunities. The world of cultural heritage is experiencing a resurgence, and with it many opportunities for emerging professionals who are ready to tackle the task of researching opportunities, making applications and nurturing relationships. Get out and be active; volunteer and join heritage organizations. It’s the best way to keep up to date with the opportunities available to you. And tell your peers about it! Heritage is a new and developing field, and we have so much to learn from each other.

What advice would you give to a cultural heritage institution or organization that would like to involve and support students and new professionals in their work?

Cultural heritage institutions should “benefit” from young voices and their new ideas. Internships, for example, can benefit both the organization and the candidate, and be instrumental for young graduates who want to build their careers and contribute to lasting change. It is important to ensure that they have the responsibility to oversee a particular task even if it is a minor project. This will not only give them hands-on experience in the industry, but also hone their existing skills. Institutions could also structure dynamic internship programs according to the academic stage of the intern.

Institutions need to be aware of the type of students to whom they offer opportunities. Few low-income students are able to volunteer for unpaid internships, but if we strive to include these voices, we will have a more diverse cultural heritage sector. Open your doors and motivate and empower young people by creating paid internships, internships, research groups and scholarships.

Do you have any plans for the European Year of Youth?

Yes! We are currently working with our partners to finalize a plan for this year. One of our goals for this year is to integrate youth participation as a key aspect of cultural heritage in all institutions. We will therefore work with different partners to highlight the voices of young people.

Since we truly believe in the positive impact of cultural heritage within society, another main objective is to enable young people to take ownership of their personal and cultural heritage and involve it in their personal and professional development.

How can a student or new professional get involved in ESACH?

You can join our international network today, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. Join the Members Group on Facebook, tag us on your projects, or send us a message asking for help in getting your message out to a wider audience. You can also subscribe to our newsletter!

Registration for our first ESACH Talks of the year is now open, participation is open to everyone. The following conferences will each include four presentations by students/new professionals. We will be issuing a call for abstracts to select speakers – if you have experience or ideas related to the topic, we encourage you to apply. From undergraduates to PhDs to new professionals, we’d love to hear from everyone.

And finally, you can also volunteer to join our coordinating committee! Open calls are regularly published online and the ESACH publications team is currently looking for new editors and graphic designers. Polish your CV and send relevant examples of your work to [email protected]!