How becoming a Digital Hero transformed my career and my confidence

How becoming a Digital Hero transformed my career and my confidence

A photo of Gopika Jayasree outside on a sunny day
Gopika Jayasree.
Hear from Gopika about how taking part in the Heritage Trust Network’s Digital Heroes project transformed her future.

How I came across Digital Heroes

My move from India to the UK in 2021 was a big change. I built a career as an Indian-qualified conservation architect, but it was impossible to continue the path I imagined for myself because in the UK my qualifications weren’t recognised. I applied for jobs but received rejection after rejection and my mental health suffered.

But I’m nothing if not determined. I started volunteering to put down roots in my community, and explored other ways that I could use the skills and interests I’d developed as an architect.

I came across Digital Heroes on Facebook and applied to take part. I was excited to build my digital skills, and reassured that I could work remotely alongside caring for my young baby.

What is the Digital Heroes project?

Heritage Trust Network’s Digital Heroes project connected 61 individuals aged 18-30 looking for career opportunities in heritage with 56 organisations across the UK. The project was powered by a £99,000 grant from the Heritage Fund. After intensive digital training and with ongoing support, each Digital Hero helped an organisation with a digital-focused project.

From devising digital fundraising or marketing strategies to creating social media campaigns and digital content, these projects helped organisations to engage wider audiences and secure the future of their heritage sites.

Being a Digital Hero was a great experience. I enjoyed getting to know my fellow heroes through training sessions and a Facebook group, and eventually a conference where some of us met up in person.

A group of young people talk at a conference
The Digital Heroes in action at the Heritage Trust Network's 2023 conference. Photo: Damiel Wootten.

My experience as a digital hero

I was matched with Connect to Purpose, a small Welsh charity that supports young people. They wanted my help with freshening up their website, which didn’t do a great job of encouraging action (like donations or volunteering applications) from their users. They didn’t know the full scale of the issue or the best way to approach it – this is where my fresh perspective and digital expertise came in.

Working with Georgina, Connect to Purpose’s director, we identified what the organisation and its audiences needed from the website. Talking through my analysis and suggestions with Georgina meant that we both understood what the new website needed to do and why this mattered.

Armed with a plan for the project and a deeper understanding of how we could work together, I got to work redesigning the website. It was great to put into practice what I had learned about content design, accessibility and project management.

Digital Heroes transformed my future

The opportunity brought me out of my shell and the skills, experience and contacts I developed opened new doors for my future.

I’m proud of the difference I’ve made during my time as a Digital Hero. Creating a new website was a satisfying project that I know has benefitted Connect to Purpose and the young people it supports through increased visibility and donations.

I enjoyed the Digital Heroes project so much that I started focusing on upskilling myself in user experience design. I now freelance in user experience design and work part time at an architecture firm – a few years ago I wouldn’t have imagined this was possible!

A woman from an indian background giving a talk
Gopika gave a talk at a Digital Heroes event called Heritage Unleashed – Wider Engagement Through Digital.

Ideas for action

So, you’ve heard my story – now what? Here are a few suggestions based on my own experience:

Tips for heritage organisations:

  • Consider your role in supporting the upcoming generation of heritage professionals. Offer entry level roles and volunteering, apprenticeship and internship opportunities.
  • Intergenerational knowledge-sharing benefits everyone, so create opportunities for the people in your organisation to learn from others with different experiences.

Tips for young professionals:

  • Build your network. Make the most of opportunities to meet heritage professionals, I’ve found that people are happy to share their own experiences.
  • Don’t box yourself into one career path, be open to how your skills could be used in various roles.
  • Consider freelancing to build your experience. Small projects in the beginning can lead to bigger opportunities in time.

Digital Heroes continues

The Heritage Trust Network is continuing the Digital Heroes scheme – get in touch with if you’re aged 18-30 and looking for training and employment opportunities in the heritage sector.

You can also get involved in The Heritage Trust Network’s Youth Forum which is amplifying the voice of young professionals within the heritage sector.

Digital Heroes was one of many projects we supported through our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative - browse stories and guides and sign up for our dedicated digital skills newsletter. Explore further digital resources on the Digital Heritage Hub.

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