Sadler’s Wells is committed to building a culturally diverse workforce and offers a number of opportunities throughout the year to help young people take their first step in the creative sector. Bel joined Sadler’s Wells in June 2017 and worked for six months in the Corporate Communications team, where she helped to promote the theatre and its work. She told us more about her internship and what she learnt.
What is your background?
I’m from Oxford originally, and during school I occasionally volunteered at a theatre company based in the city. I studied English Literature at Queen Mary University of London, and during that time I spent two years working as the Arts Editor of our student union newspaper and magazine. Straight after graduating, I began working as a Copywriter and Digital Marketing Assistant at a creative agency, writing copy for our clients’ brochures and websites. After a couple of years, I decided that I wanted to focus my career within the arts, so I started an Editorial internship at an arts marketing agency, writing articles including exhibition reviews and interviews for their website.
How did you find out about the internship and why did you apply to work at Sadler’s Wells?
I came across the internship on Arts Jobs. I was looking for something that could help me take the first steps in becoming an arts professional and offer some training too. Admittedly I knew next to nothing about dance before starting here, apart from taking a few contemporary dance classes, but my sister was always fascinated by ballet growing up, so I had some exposure to it during childhood. I’d heard of Sadler’s Wells before and I knew it had an excellent reputation as an arts organisation and for presenting world-class dance, so it seemed like the ideal place to gain experience of the inner workings of an arts venue in London.
What does your internship involve?
I support the Senior Communications Manager in raising the profile, and promoting the vision, of the organisation. My projects have included assisting with the production of our annual review 2016-17, liaising with different departments to acquire information and images, as well as drafting sections. I also coordinated content and wrote sections of a brochure for guests of the Material Movement evening, a joint fundraising event held by Sadler’s Wells and London College of Fashion in November. Day-to-day, I help write content for the executive team, create posts for the Sadler’s Wells LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and I also manage the Sadler’s Wells’ blog, coming up with content ideas and helping to publicise our programmes and initiatives, such as Learning & Engagement and sustainability projects.
What have you learned so far?
An enormous amount! I feel that I’ve had an unrivalled insight into how a large arts venue works. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across many different departments, learning about the work that they do to ensure that Sadler’s Wells is active in the local community and encouraging openness and diversity. I felt particularly that my line manager Giulia was an encyclopedia of knowledge about Sadler’s Wells and the creative industry as a whole!
I have also learnt how to take responsibility for my own workload and be proactive in ensuring I am up-to-date with activities across the organisation. I’ve gotten to grips with a whole new writing style and understood the importance of accuracy, consistent messaging and sensitivity. But I think one of the most important things I’ve learnt is that it’s good to be inquisitive and ask questions, even if it feels like they are too obvious!
What do you particularly enjoy as part of the internship?
I love the environment of working in a busy theatre. I have never worked anywhere this large before, and being able to go and see shows, to see great art and know that you’re part of it in some small way, there’s honestly nothing like it. I also never felt restricted as part of this internship and was treated just like any other employee. I was encouraged to work independently and seek out new opportunities to learn in the organisation, from independently sourcing content for the fundraising event brochure through to running a Twitter Q&A with one of our visiting companies!
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of it?
I think with the amount of trust bestowed in me there were many new challenges. Sometimes it was difficult to complete everything I wanted to do at particularly busy times, and taking part in large meetings was also something I’d never done before, so I struggled with my confidence a little. But I like to feel challenged and some of these moments I would honestly say were part of my highlights of working here.
How do you feel the internship will benefit your career?
Prior to this I knew I wanted to work in the arts sector, as theatres, museums and galleries are honestly the places in which I feel most comfortable, but I didn’t know quite where I could fit. My role as Communications Intern helped me to clarify and centre my focus on what I wanted to do in the arts, and gave me indispensable experience within a prestigious arts organisation. I am now going on to a full time, permanent role as Communications Assistant at Art Fund, so it has undoubtedly been the perfect first step into a role within the creative sector.
What advice would you give to other graduates doing a placement through the programme?
Be proactive, go after your own opportunities within the organisation and don’t be afraid to be challenged. The focus is very much on helping you to learn, grow, and gain as much experience as possible. Always be inquisitive, ask lots of questions and really make the most of your time here. Be active, enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to ask advice about your work or the next steps in your career, the people here come from such varied career backgrounds and are always happy to help!