Maddie chatted with Holly and Emily to find out about their experiences with the Creative Pathways Internship. To find out more about the internship and how to apply, click here.
What was your role within the programme?
Holly: I worked in the Participation Department at Nottingham Castle. I did a range of things in my role, mainly involving admin support, but I also was able to take part in a range of community projects and Playhouse shows.
Emily: Currently, I am working in the marketing team at Lakeside Arts. I assist with marketing of the organisation online, which is a big umbrella term for all of the work that we do via emails, social media posts, our website, and beyond. Day-to-day, I am copywriting for the website and our social platforms, creating graphics on Photoshop, designing email templates, and learning to use all of the various softwares we use. I also assist with our campaigns by contacting our internal and external comms, and the rest of my time is spent attending online events and a lot of meetings.
My goal is to work in the Arts, specifically in publishing, and I saw this as a great opportunity to expand my skills and gain insight into the industry
Why did you apply for the internship?
H: Coming from Nottingham, I saw this as a really exciting opportunity to be involved in the Arts community in the City. I spent my childhood going to Nottingham Playhouse, visiting Lakeside, and being involved in community groups within the city, so I was really excited to see that the internship allowed the cohort to interact with all the participating establishments. My goal is to work in the Arts, specifically in publishing, and I saw this as a great opportunity to expand my skills and gain insight into the industry.
E: I applied for the internship because as soon as I read the brief, I knew it was right for me. I was really indecisive about what path I should take at the end of my studies. I knew that I wanted to work in the arts because I’ve spent the majority of my life studying them and wanted to experience what it means to work in the arts from the inside. I remember thinking that I couldn’t work somewhere where I didn’t believe in the work the organisation did and I wasn’t passionate about the work I’d be doing, and when I was reading up on the internship I realised there are seven organisations doing incredible work in the Nottingham community and I’d be thrilled to work for any of them, so I seized the chance.
A typical day would involve attending department meetings, assisting with the weekly participation sessions, and helping run backstage tours
Pre-pandemic, what was a typical day like?
H: A typical day would involve attending department meetings, assisting with the weekly participation sessions, and helping run backstage tours. The sessions could be anywhere in the city, from out in Sherwood to Clifton or Beeston. They were always really fun, and each would showcase the passions and talents of a different demographic. I was particularly involved with the planning and monitoring of the Story Builders project in Strelley, which was a creative storytelling session for children under 5. When I wasn’t out and about helping with these, I was putting my previous experience as a tour guide at Newstead Abbey into practise running backstage tours for visiting groups. This was something I was allowed to design myself, and I conducted a lot of research into the history of the building and its shows to ensure that there was as much information as possible. As you can tell, the days at the Playhouse were incredibly varied and I was constantly running around!
It’s helped me discover a newfound appreciation for the arts
The creative industry has suffered immensely during the pandemic. How has it affected you personally?
H: For me, I have found the pandemic has influenced my job prospects massively. It’s really unfortunate. Working in the theatre as the lockdown measures hit was a really disheartening experience, but I was constantly revived by witnessing the way the industry bounced back and found a way. I’ve put this into practise myself and I have found myself working in roles that maybe I wouldn’t have done under different circumstances. Things are beginning to work out a little bit more now, which is nice, and I’m noticing that the industry is recovering and jobs are becoming more available. One thing I have noticed is the decentralisation away from London, which I am really happy about!
E: It’s helped me discover a newfound appreciation for the arts. When life came to a standstill a year ago it was the artists, the writers, the marketers, the programmers, and so many more that kept us in touch with the theatres and galleries and cinemas and artists that we missed so much. The creative industries have proved that they can adapt and survive, and their audiences are hungrier than ever to be immerse themselves. I can’t wait for the doors to reopen and attend my first exhibition, watch my first show in the theatre, and attend my first live event post-Covid.
The internship has inspired me to apply for roles that I wouldn’t have thought myself able to do before
How has the internship inspired you?
H: The internship has inspired me to apply for roles that I wouldn’t have thought myself able to do before. The nine months I worked at the Playhouse really taught me a lot about my own abilities that I will be sure to take forward. I have discovered I’m very passionate about access, something that sits at the heart of the internship, and helping people from underrepresented backgrounds have access to the Arts. I love that the internship put people like myself at the forefront and helped us gain insight, and I want to carry this forward throughout my career.
E: Since I’ve started the internship my extra-curricular motivation has soared. The events I attend with guest speakers, the artists we promote, and the interactions with other organisations involved in the programme are crammed full of so many brilliant people that I’ve found myself actively seeking more opportunities to attend arts-focused events, panel discussions, talks and writing workshops. The addicting thing about working in the arts is that you never get bored of hearing other peoples’ stories because they are so interesting and varied. I’m constantly asking myself, “What’s the next thing you can learn?” and I realise now that this motivation is only helping me get better at my job.
you never get bored of hearing other peoples’ stories because they are so interesting and varied
For you personally, what was the highlight of the internship?
H: In all honesty, the friends I have made through the internship were the absolute best bit, and there were some amazing things in the internship. I feel so involved in Nottingham’s community, and I feel like I have made some connections that will stay with me forever. The people I have met have boosted my confidence, and made me feel so much happier about the Arts and myself in general. Everyday was amazing, and it was mainly because I had great friends at the Playhouse to laugh about it with. The network with the other organisations always made me feel like I had someone I could go to, I felt so supported the whole time. I’m really hoping that after the Pandemic finishes, we will all get to reunite and have fun together again!
E: I’m only around a third of the way through, but I’d have to say organising and co-hosting one of the Network Learning Meetings with another intern. The NLMs are a monthly occurrence, and each time two interns from the seven organisations have to organise speakers and workshops for the other interns to do, with a focus on sector professionals and skills valued in the arts. For our meeting, we had an CV masterclass and a blogging workshop with professionals from Nottingham Playhouse and UNESCO City of Lit. The other great thing about these meetings is that they involve a lot of wellbeing activities that are a nice break from the madness of day-to-day work, like the poetry workshop with one of the 2019-2020 interns and the wellbeing games run by a member of the team at Nonsuch Studios. We had a variety of things to do and met great people, and at the end of the day we all felt refreshed and so informed.
I feel like I’ve been given a fast-track in terms of networking
Before the acceptance onto the internship, how confident did you feel about your ability to pursue a career in the arts? Has Creative Pathways boosted your confidence?
H: I think before this internship, I was sort of floundering around thinking about ways I could involve myself in the Arts in a tangential way. I thought I would have to work for years in jobs I didn’t particularly want to do until I had buckets of experience to apply for an entry level role. The internship has made me realise I have a lot of really brilliant skills that are sought after in the industry, and also shown me jobs that I didn’t know existed that would be perfect for me. My confidence is a massive part of my growth thanks to the internship and I can’t wait to get out there now and apply for my dream jobs.
E: What you tend to find with the arts is that a lot of people work in a different sector beforehand. A lot of this has to do with the fact that there are a lot of people interested in pursuing jobs at arts organisations and there just aren’t enough available. I feel like I’ve been given a fast-track in terms of networking, as no matter how much research you do and how active you are, you simply don’t know that much about working in the arts until you actually do. I’ve learned so many things about how my organisation runs that you just can’t learn looking in from the outside, and moving forward I feel like I can bring this knowledge to my next role. My team are also so supportive of helping me to gain skills that my confidence has soared. I started with a blank slate, essentially, and I’ve grown into the role because they’ve helped me transition from learning things to doing them.
The connections I have made also mean it’s easy to seek out industry advice
How has the internship helped to improve your career prospects?
H: The range of work that I was allowed to explore at the Playhouse means I have a very solid base for going forward into Arts based careers. As my dream job is in Marketing and Publishing, I made sure to ask questions during my internship that would allow me to gain experience in these roles. I was involved in the creation of a Children’s book at the Playhouse, something that I never thought would happen at this point in my career, and now something I am sure to bring up in every application I send off. The connections I have made also mean it’s easy to seek out industry advice, something that coming from a working class background was not accessible to me. This is a priceless resource and one that I am not taking for granted.
What are your ambitions for the future?
E: That’s a very tricky question for somebody as indecisive as I am. I think, despite the abysmal financial setbacks of the pandemic, the future still seems pretty bright to me because I’m getting better at my role all the time, and this is only the beginning of my career. I’d like to eventually move to a more writing-focused role, but, that said, I really like the social media work, especially working on Photoshop. So, who knows? The path I’m meant to take will call my name, the same way that this internship did.
At its base, this internship is all about accessibility and bringing Arts to people who traditionally have been less able to take part in it
Do you have any advice for students thinking of applying for the internship?
H: Research the organisations involved, and begin to experience what they offer for the community. At its base, this internship is all about accessibility and bringing Arts to people who traditionally have been less able to take part in it. Seeing the amazing work that is constantly being done by City of Literature, Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham Contemporary, City Arts, Nonsuch, Lakeside, and Dance4 will inspire you. It’s that inspiration and passion that will make you stand out.
E: Do it. This is an opportunity where your prospective employers are rooting for you to get the job and if, like me, the thought of sitting in a panel interview makes you a little bit nauseous, I promise you that you will be fine… you’ll actually enjoy it. The people working at these organisations want to know who you are and what you bring to the role, so as long as you can show that you are passionate, informed and eager, you’ll have a very good shot. I nearly didn’t apply because I was so anxious about the two interview days, yet I was disappointed when they were over. Seize this amazing opportunity because there aren’t enough of them.
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