The Work Experience

As a recent arts graduate, I have accepted the fact I will most likely not gain a permanent job in something I enjoy, feel like I can progress in, or is relevant to my degree for some time now. An interesting conclusion, but one that I just fancied sharing some thoughts over.

Finishing University is a bizarre feeling. I am so glad third year is over – but the job hunt is time-consuming, demoralising and hard flipping work. I have spent my summer in 2013 doing work experience, a part-time role in a local gallery, and various temporary supportive roles for different theatre shows. Its been hectic, but (I hope) extremely worthwhile. I am still trying to find out whether all this hard work will lead to a permanent job yet, but for now its kept me seriously busy.

I’ve recently finished an internship with the BBC Performing Arts Fund at the brand spanking new BBC North offices at MediaCityUK. Oh my word was it an amazing amazing time. I learnt a ton about how BBC North works, that actually the employed staff at BBC Performing Arts Fund do a far more than people realise, and that its existence as a charity is so imperative and important to the community groups that have been affected by it. I began to understand some corporate office lingo, fused with an informal hot-desking approach to work and found myself slotting into commuter life a little too easily.

In essence, here are 3 things that I did that I’m pretty sure helped to make my internship all that worthwhile:

1. Ask for a daily task list.paf
During the first few days I had to complete training, basic research and finding my way around the office. Its a bit dull at first but has to be done. Only after these initial few days does the real work begin. Depending on your job description – mine had 3 clear objectives I could work on – start planning and jotting down ideas and plans relating to the tasks. These might be specific for your internship SO don’t forget to ask about general day-to-day tasks as well. This is what I mean by a daily task list. It might include social media updates, calendar scheduling, replying to emails as well as chasing emails. All these might change on a daily basis but are probably a reason why you there for an internship in the first place. Make sure you know about weekly meetings, and know who else is in your part of the office.

2. Be sociable.
So this sounds super obvious but I think it’s quite important. Go out for birthdays! Organise meal trips, recommend bars, stay for drinks after work – make an impression! Not a tipsy, drunken one, just an enthusiastic genuine one! I found myself in craft club, choir and lots of lunchtime cake action. It was great banter.

3. Say yes.
If its a social engagement, a reply to an email, a tweet to send, an assignment to finish, a database to add to, SAY YES. This is a time where you can practice prioritising your work and making the most out of your time in an established company. Don’t feel like you are at the bottom of the food chain just because you are an unpaid employee. Equally, don’t be a brown-noser. It may sound obvious, but I reckon a bit of awareness to what your paid colleagues are doing will stop a an awkward interaction when you pester them for answers when they are right in the middle of something.

My time at BBC Performing Arts Fund was so fantastic, it’s a shame that at this moment in time there was nothing in the department that could have developed further into a permanent role. I’ve maintained good contact with my colleagues that worked there though so I will not be short of a good reference in the mean time!

As to where I am now, I’m back on a temporary run of In the Night Garden Live at the Trafford Centre. (Yes, you know the one with Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy and that freak who washes rocks – Maaaaka Paka!) Such is the nature of the arts world that jobs come and go, especially in front of house and production support for touring shows. I am nonetheless continuing my aspirations towards arts administration, learning more and more about this complex industry as I go!


BBC Performing Arts Fund –
In the Night Garden Live –