THIS IS IT! London launch

Frances Carbines is currently on a six month paid internship with the Association of British Orchestras as part of the Creative Employment Programme. Last Monday she attended This Is It!, the first in a series of events we are running across England for all paid interns and apprentices on the Creative Employment Programme. She has written a blog about her experience of the day and her internship so far: 

 In September I became the first paid intern of the Association of British Orchestras, as part of the Creative Employment Programme. After what seemed like an interminable period of job applications and unpaid internships which provided me with few new skills and chronic financial instability, it was fantastic to finally have the opportunity to learn on the job and to know that I was a valued member of the team, with each day’s work earning a day’s wage. I was keen to attend the inaugural This Is It! event hosted at Sadler’s Wells, as the programme heralded a day filled with creative activities as well as the chance to learn more about the wider aims of the programme, while meeting fellow beneficiaries.

 It was also a rare opportunity to network with arts professionals I’d never otherwise meet in day-to-day life, given their level of seniority within their organisations. That afternoon I found myself presenting a creative brief to Mike Smith, President of Music at Virgin EMI, whose career trajectory both surprised and inspired his listeners. The man who would one day sign Blur, we discovered, started as a post boy for Universal, sorting through paperwork and heaving sacks about the post room. He told us how he used his initiative to get his budding talent noticed in what to him seemed an impenetrable industry, despite his parents’ initial misgivings, having no contacts within the sector and lacking any relevant prior experience or training.

The day’s programme of activities included brainstorming tasks among fellow interns and apprentices, as well as a series of workshops with a focus on learning and sharing knowledge about freelance career paths. We were then invited to attend the launch of Building a Creative Nation at the Southbank Centre, where Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg lauded the efforts of creative organisations who’d committed to offering paid placements, and urged those as yet undecided to do likewise. The Southbank Centre’s Artistic Director Jude Kelly OBE stressed the importance of championing young people in the arts, highlighting the Southbank Centre’s own input over the past few decades, while former Dragon Doug Richard extolled the UK’s creative industry and invited other leading professionals to follow his lead in supporting the UK’s creative industries.

As an intern new to the world of work, it can seem immensely dispiriting to be told: ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ by well-meaning ‘get your foot in the door’ advisers, as is often the case when searching for answers at this stage. However, at This Is It!, the emphasis was very much on how someone in the same position as the interns and apprentices of the scheme could make the most of each available opportunity to meet people, who in turn could offer them guidance and lead them in the right direction.  Having the support of the Creative Employment Programme, and its partners, associates and advocates will be a crucial element of the professional and personal development of every young person who takes part.

Frances Carbines

Association of British Orchestras Intern



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