Work Experience Opportunity
International Work Experience Placement at School Of The Arts (SOTA) and Read Dance and Theatre College (RDTC) by Jannika Tenk (Work Experience Candidate 2013-2014)
This work experience placement is suited to a student aged 18+ who wishes to gain experience working within a Full Time Performing Arts College and Part Time Theatre School from September 2014. Applications are now open from German students looking for a UK based work experience opportunity.
INTRODUCTION to myself
My name is Jannika Tenk, I am 19 years old, from Osnabrueck in Germany and I came to Reading in Berkshire, England in September 2013 for a work experience placement at a local part-time theatre school, School Of The Arts (SOTA) and full time performing arts college, Read Dance & Theatre College.
Why did I choose this experience?
After I finished school with my A-levels/ Abitur in Germany in Summer 2013, I didn’t know in which area I wanted to continue with my studies and so I decided to use the following year as an opportunity to have as many experiences as possible. I didn’t want to start studying anything I might not really like and that’s why I started searching for places where I could go to broaden my horizons.
I chose to come to England, because it is like my second home as I spent all my summer holidays in the UK since 1996, mostly in Cornwall. I just love the country, its language, the culture and especially the mentality of the people, although I must say I learnt so much more about everything by actually living here. Therefore I am now better able to compare Germany and England and can appreciate how different they are from each other in so many ways.
The reason why I chose to do work-experience in two different performing arts schools was mostly because I really enjoy singing and dancing. In Germany I attend singing lessons and I used to do ballet and rhythmic gymnastics. At that time, I could not imagine how high the standard of Musical Theatre performance would be here.
How I found School Of The Arts (SOTA) & Read Dance & Theatre College (RDTC)
I first found the website of School Of The Arts (SOTA) and I was so amazed by the school, just by reading about it that I contacted the Founding Director Of SOTA Schools, Juliette Caton, to ask if they would give me an opportunity to gain some work experience at the school. After exchanging some information, about how the school runs, what my tasks and responsibilities would be and what experience I already have, I received an e-mail confirming that SOTA and also the “Read Dance and Theatre College“ (which works in co-operation with SOTA) would be happy to offer me a full-time work-experience placement. I was so incredibly grateful and couldn’t wait to start my journey.
Furthermore I didn’t have to worry about accommodation either, because Jamie, the Director of Read College, gave me contact details of a local family that I could stay with for £250 per month, who had already rented rooms to the students of the college in previous years.
So I started my work-experience in September 2013 and now my time here is nearly over and I can say that I couldn’t have chosen anything more suitable for me then this amazing experience!
I have experienced a very wide range of tasks and responsibilities and every single day I have spent at work is different and requires a wide variety of skills.
Responsibilities at SOTA
Stock taking, Ordering, and fitting Uniforms
Office housekeeping (Tidying up, Washing-up)
Invoicing parents using the schools invoice system.
Maintaining and updating Class Registers and Student Records
Organising, maintaining and updating Financial
Organising and maintaining the filing system and administrative records
Operating the Music for the dance classes and ISTD Dance examinations
Assisting the teachers in the junior dance, drama and singing classes at two of the schools branche
Assisting the drama teacher in the putting on of the Drama Festival Productions.
Preparing music and lyrics for the SOTA Adult Rock Choir
Dealing with parents enquiries and queries
Preparing the drama resources for the LAMDA Acting Exams
Assisting in the setting up and running of Cabaret Nights at a local cabaret venue.
Responsibilities at Read Dance and Theatre College
Administration work: sending E-mails, answering calls, leaving voice mails
Fundraising Event Organisation: Charity Concerts & Quiz Nights
Office housekeeping (Tidying up, Washing-up)
Create / design Exhibition Boards, Flyers, Documents
Design and marketing of advertisements for the College in Germany via Phone, Prospectus, E-mail, Facebook, Blogs
Assisting in the move of the College to different premises catalogue / pack / store all properties
Updating College website
Assisting in the marketing and promotion of the college at ‘Move It’: a National Exhibition.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNT
It is important to understand that this role is unpaid but instead you gain amazing work- and life experience from it as you can see from the following:
Gaining experience of performing arts training
I have benefited from observing, assisting and participating in a wide variety of performing arts training in the fields of dance, singing and drama. These classes have been training a wide range of ages and ability levels, for 3-23 year olds, and have included private and group sessions, workshops, classes and master classes with industry professionals.
I have personally participated in tap, ballet, private singing, group singing, pilates and body conditioning, improvisation, acting, acrobatics, musical theatre theory, musical theatre performance and the SOTA Adult Rock Choir.
At Read Theatre & Dance College I have been allowed to choose to participate in any of the students classes, training alongside the students by professionals.
This has been a fantastic opportunity to experience such a wide variety of training between the schools.
The role of a teacher
I had previously only been in the position of being a student at school and so it has been very interesting for me to be working so closely with the teachers. I now understand so much more about their work.
Experiencing a unique position
I was the first person to ever come into this position. Juliette and Jamie devised the role for me and in the beginning, put a lot of effort into showing and explaining everything to me. Of course I needed to be able to remember all of the tasks, procedures and responsibilities after a while and to do them on my own and independently, but I was given a lot of help and support.
Because I am neither a student of the College nor a teacher, I am equally involved in both worlds and therefore I have a very unique and specific position, which has been both challenging and enjoyable. In this position I had to learn to become a person of trust and to definitely keep my word, which has sometimes been very hard.
Maintaining a professional role
It has also been challenging to be seen as a professional representative of both schools by staff, pupils, parents and the public, which hasn’t been easy for me, because I haven’t been in a position like this before. This also concerns the smaller children at SOTA, who see me as a teacher and a role model.
Learning the importance of confidentiality
If the teachers are having a meeting with a student in the office about serious issues concerning health conditions or financial problems, it is my own responsibility to not talk about it with the other students or any other people at all, except from the involved student.
Making a positive difference
In my position I also learnt that it makes me really happy to help the students and the teachers in any way possible and that I can make a positive change and a difference with the work I do.
Co-operation between SOTA and RDTC
I have experienced the intensive cooperation between SOTA and RDTC concerning Marketing, Events, the students and general support.
Examples of this are;
Students from the College were invited to sing at the Cabaret Nights, which Juliette organised and when Juliette was interviewed on the Radio about SOTA she took the chance to promote RDTC too. They are very supportive of each other’s training.
Many of the students at SOTA are possible future students of the college. At a careers fare I attended with the College several of the SOTA students were interested in attending the College after finishing SOTA.
Learning that everything is possible
At SOTA and at Read College I learnt that nothing is impossible to achieve and that we as individuals can change so many things. I really didn’t realise this before I came here and I am very grateful to take this, and all of the knowledge and the experiences with me and to use them whenever I may need them, in my life.
APPLYING FOR THIS POSITION
Who can apply?
Age 18+ by September 2014.
An application for this kind of work-experience doesn’t require any certificates or good grades in school. It’s about being willing to work hard, to do all kinds of work and to be able to organise your life on your own. If you are interested in becoming a professional performer then this is a great opportunity to get experience.
This opportunity will suit an individual with a passion and interest in performing arts training. This position may also suit an individual who is possibly not considering a performing arts career as a performer but who is interested in gaining a more entrepreneurial or business related experience.
You may be suitable if you are considering one of the following career paths;
Musical Theatre career
Arts Administration career
Entrepreneurial career with an interest in the Arts
Creator / Designer
Successful candidates may also possess the following qualities:
You will be open to doing a wide variety of tasks
Have an interest in the performing arts
Happy to meet and work with a wide variety of people and personalities – one should be open to getting to know all of the professional performers, visitors, cover teachers and new students, who come either to the college or to SOTA, because one can take so much from speaking to them.
It will be advantageous to also possess or be open to developing the following qualities:
Have as widespread vocabulary as possible, although it really helped me as well that Jamie can speak perfect German. Therefore I could always ask for words and apart from that there are also pantomime or dictionaries.
Be in good health and body condition, because I am also doing quite a lot of physical work.
To get even more experience you would also be able to join some of the courses both in the Read College and at SOTA
Be a person who appreciates trust, privacy and confidence. You must be aware that Student and Staff confidentiality is to be actively protected.
How to apply?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with a covering letter explaining about who you are, what it is you are looking to gain from this position and why you think you are well suited to it.
On receipt of your application you will have a Skype chat with Juliette and Jamie to get to know them better and to be introduced to the work of their schools.
Applications are open now.