A passion for heritage led Benjamin to Melbourne’s largest excavation

Benjamin Petkov’s passion for heritage led him to complete the Master of Urban and Cultural Heritage (MUCH) in 2018. He has since been working on one of the largest excavation projects in Melbourne.

Ben Petkov profile

Where are you currently working?
I am currently employed by Extent Heritage, a heritage and archaeological consulting firm which provides a single point of service for clients’ heritage assessment and management requirements.

What is your proudest piece of work so far?
To date, one of the biggest projects I have worked on was the excavation of the Munro Site on Therry Street. The Munro site is a key project in the City of Melbourne’s $250 million Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal Program. I am very proud to have been involved in one of the largest archaeological excavations in Victoria. For this project, I researched and provided historical background information to enable further archaeological work at the site. This research provided archaeologists with the information needed (a narrative of the site) to contextualise any findings made onsite.

How has your degree helped you navigate the heritage industry?
One of the biggest factors that needs to be recognised is that of the MUCH Heritage Industry Internship. As part of my degree, I completed an internship with Extent amounting to four weeks of full-time placement (160 hours). This practical hands-on industry exposure equipped me with an understanding of the workings of a professional workplace and offered a chance to practice everything I had been taught in my degree. My engaging in the MUCH Heritage Industry Internship can be understood as being inextricably linked to my current employment.

Overall, the diverse range of subjects available through the Master of Urban and Cultural Heritage, engaging in themes ranging from cultural landscapes, built heritage practices, heritage theory and architectural history to just name a few, have equipped me with the requisite tools to navigate projects day to day.

Have your plans changed since finishing study?
Yes they have. I operate under an understanding that one should possess a certain degree of professional flexibility, especially once graduating and entering the workforce. For, though one may have left the classroom they are still very much learning. Upon graduating, my personal professional outlook solely revolved around built heritage conservation. However, since graduating and working for Extent Heritage for the last half a year, I can recognise the level of job satisfaction I have received not only in the composition of Conservation Management Plans, but also in the preparing of Cultural Heritage Management Plans and Thematic Environmental Histories. To surmise, since graduating, my plans and future outlook have broadened.

What advice would you have for students now?
If I could offer only one word of advice for those currently enrolled in the Master of Urban and Cultural Heritage, I would encourage you to seek out extracurricular volunteer opportunities. This is not only beneficial to you as an emerging heritage specialist seeking to expand on your experiences, but it supports your local community. The Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) is always looking for volunteers, as are smaller community groups. The heritage industry relies on the work done by not-for-profit heritage organisations, much of which is done by volunteers. What is more, not only are you supporting your local community, but later on when you are applying for work, you will have potential references that aren’t just your lecturers.

My second word of advice for those enrolled in the Master of Urban and Cultural Heritage would be to take part in the MUCH Heritage Industry Internship. The internship offered practical hands-on experience, which ultimately led to my current employment.

Be punctual, be neat, be inquisitive and keep busy! Finally, don’t ever lose your enthusiasm for heritage and conservation – it isn’t a field that someone just falls into. Passion is such an important factor for this line of work!

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