This is Adele’s account of her recent work experience placement with us at Mid Pennine Arts. Adele attends St Christopher’s CE High School in Accrington.
The first thing I want to point out before I go any further, is if you want to get in Mid Pennine Arts’ good books from the beginning, arrive at the office with cake. Or even better, during your work experience interview, promise them you have exquisite taste in biscuits, Swiss roll and cake and will be a satisfactory supplier of Marks and Spencers cookies – it’s guaranteed to work a treat! Unfortunately, nobody told me this and I arrived empty handed on my first day (I’m sorry team!)
Everyone is bound to feel a tad overwhelmed or nervous on their first day, its normal. I was nervous too and despite Philippa’s very kind emails, I couldn’t help feel like my first day would be the day that I would spill something on somebody during a coffee run or that I would end up jamming and loosing something in the photocopier with no way of retrieving it (thankfully, I haven’t once been asked to do to coffee or tea run and my experience with the photocopier has been surprisingly pleasant.) I needn’t have worried though, as from the word go I was made to feel very welcome and the team here at MPA were always more than willing to help me or point me in the right direction if I ever felt like I needed the support. Thanks to the initial health and safety talk, which was very thorough and detailed, I knew that in the case of a fire I should avoid the back windows due to the extreme drop on the other side and that the very dangerous steps to the basement should be avoided at all costs (after carrying two very large paintings up those stairs with David on Thursday, I can see exactly what Melanie meant).
Not one day was boring or tedious during my week at the office and I am really grateful for the vast variety of jobs that the team gave me to do. It kept things very interesting for me. My schedule was pretty full and I was never short of things to keep myself occupied with. From office jobs such as talking to clients over the phone, collecting and sorting through feedback from the Taken event at Clitheroe Castle, searching the internet for art venues, cafes and organizations that may be interested in displaying leaflets for upcoming events, making spreadsheets and even collecting information about a local artist, the tasks I were given were all different. The team was also keen to involve me in meetings and I was lucky enough to sit in on two meetings, one with a graphic designer who was going to be designing a leaflet for the Dark Satanics event on the 22nd of July and another with the entire office. I found sitting in on these meetings extremely beneficial, as I was able to learn not only about the projects MPA involved themselves in, but also how the team work together to solve problems and come up with new ideas to help promote art in the area. If there was something that I learnt more than anything during my team at MPA, it is how well the team work together and how close they all are.
Tuesday was definitely the busiest day in terms of the amount of staff who were in! It was difficult trying to find a computer to work at and it was every man for themselves as each person tried to guard their desk. Tuesday was also really exciting, as I was able to go out of the office with Lucy to Burnley Youth Theatre to meet with two artists Paul, Gino and a group of budding actors and actresses who were interested in the participating in the Project Pride Burnley event. I watched them dress up in old wigs, fur coats and hippie glasses as they practiced using different filming techniques that would possibly be used at the show later in the year. Wednesday was the day that I spent working with Steph and in particular focusing on how MPA works with schools and young people within education systems. We visited The Hollins School in Accrington to help two year eight students with their arts award portfolios. I read through some of their work and talked to them about their involvement in ‘Project Pride’ in Accrington and it was nice to hear about the project from people that were actually involved in it, more so than those who were just looking in with an outsiders perspective.
I spent Thursday in a similar way, going out to a primary school in Accrington where an artist was spending the day with the children, focusing on creative ways of promoting the five fruit and vegetables a day target in an artistic manner. I was able to interact with some of the children and look at their colourful paintings whilst listening to their stories about how the day was going. I found a conversation between two of the girls quite amusing as one of the girls began attacking her painted apple with various colours, her friend asked in pure horror ‘what are you doing?’ to which her response was, ‘its an apple, its meant to be multicoloured!’’
One of my more strenuous jobs in the office was packing two very large paintings ready for auction which, considering all together, the painting, bubble wrap and cardboard were bigger than me, was a challenge and I often found myself attached to bubble wrap with tape and I went home that day with cardboard in my shoes (how it got there, I have no idea!) Nevertheless, I enjoyed the responsibility that came with this job and being able to research the artist and then look at and handle his work was really remarkable.
Finally, I put my persuasion skills to use as I was let loose in Burnleywith leaflets promoting the Forgotten event at Townley Hall. I have never been one for following a map and navigating myself around my home town in search of an illusive coffee and crafts shop proved very difficult. Despite this, all in all it proved to be a very positive experience as all the shops; cafes and establishments that I went into (except for one, no names mentioned) were willing to display the leaflet. Success!
When I think back about my week of work experience with Mid Pennine Arts, I believe that it was a very rewarding experience and I would strongly advise any pupil who has interest in the arts, culture or is interested in working with a group of very dedicated and lovely people to check out MPA. I think that I have developed my communication skills considerably not only with those who I was working with every day, but also with people outside of the business, for example schools, shops, artists and even the odd balloon supplier over the telephone! I have definitely broadened my time keeping skills as I tried to complete all my jobs in a certain space of time (although the team was very helpful and flexible about this.) My independent research skills have been put to the test on several occasions and I feel that all the skills that I have broadened during my work experience will be crucial for me in the future. I feel that I was always treated with respect and I was given a great deal of responsibility and opportunities to be independent which I really appreciated. There is nothing quite like being given a task and then being given the chance to do with it without constant supervision that you get at sixth form or school and I think that these are what I will remember the most from my week at MPA.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank EVERYBODY at the office at MPA for allowing me to spend the week with you. Everyone was very helpful and caring (the amount of times I was asked if I wanted a brew was astonishing) and I really liked how you made me feel like part of the team more so than just a outsider stepping foot in your office. There was no sense of being looked down upon and I feel that the skills I have learnt here are things that I will carry through into the future and even when I am considering art/culture based courses at university! 🙂
We, at MPA, would like to say a massive thank you to Adele who was a great contribution to our team during her work experience placement. We wish her lots of luck and success for the future and hope to see her again very soon!