What’s it like interning at the Gate? Two words….
You’ve probably heard horror stories about internships and how the intern is basically just a nice name for ‘the help’ or the person that makes everyone a cup of tea in the office. Well, I too get to make tea but it’s entirely voluntarily. In fact, everyone at the Gate takes turn making tea, even the Executive Director! Yes, the Executive Director! But enough about tea and who gets to make it because what I’m trying to say is that here at the Gate I am more than just the intern; here at the Gate I’m Bobette, I’m one of the team. My opinions and points of view are heard, listened to and valued. The Gate has kindly and generously welcomed me in and I feel I have a purpose here and that my time and presence is genuinely wanted.
I really must start at the beginning- not the very beginning though (I'll have to write a book for that), but do grab yourself a cup of tea and enjoy (and no don't ask that intern to make you one, why not take a trip to the kitchen and make yourself one, eh?!).
Angry! I was so angry and frustrated that after three years of hard work and determination getting my degree, no one in the industry wanted to hire me because, although I have a degree in the arts, somehow I just wasn't worth investing in since I didn't have the exact industry experience they were looking for.
So what is a girl to do?
Well a girl gets a job in retail to try and survive. I was already working in retail from my days at university so when I completed my course and had no luck with arts jobs I stayed and tried to make a living that way.
But it wasn't for me! I had this itch that I desperately wanted to scratch and no matter how many times I tried scratching it with different career pathways, it just wasn't going away. It wanted one thing and one thing only: to work in the arts! So with this hunger to get into the industry, I began searching for ways to do just that, tracking down every possible opportunity I could find, until through a random Google search I stumbled upon Creative Access and there was where I found the light at the end of the tunnel. Creative Access was providing opportunities for creative graduates from BAME backgrounds to gain access into the creative industries. It was just my luck that at the same time I came across Creative Access, the Development Internship position at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill was being advertised. I wasted no time applying and within a week I heard back and was asked to attend an interview.
Breezy as a summer's day!
I was living in Birmingham when I was invited for an interview at Gate Theatre so on the day of my interview I got up on the crack of dawn and made my way to Birmingham New Street train station and travelled to London.
I arrived at the Gate exactly ten minutes before my interview. "Hi I'm Suzy, welcome to the Gate" was the greeting I received upon my arrival from the Administrator Suzy to the small but cosy office. I was greeted with such delight that all the anxiety that usually accompanies you in an interview disappeared and I was left with this calm sensation that's really hard to describe. Much like Suzy's warm welcome, my interview was chilled (but still quite formal) and I left feeling a sense of pride that I'd achieved something even though I didn't know if they were going to hire me or not.
A week later I received a call from Creative Access telling me that the Gate had offered me the internship role and I was to start within a week. Believe me when I say I dropped everything my retail job, boyfriend etc. (ok not completely the boyfriend – I still have him!), packed all my stuff in my car and drove to London. My starting date was Tuesday and on Monday I drove to London and all I knew was that I was going to take that internship and commit to it even if it meant sleeping in my car whilst I find a place. Fortunately, I didn't have to sleep in my car (phew!) and found a place almost immediately in London.
The Internship (finally!)
My internship is a partnership between the Gate and Creative Access. The Gate chose to look past the fact that I had little to no experience of working in the industry and agreed to invest in me by providing me with the training that is needed to work in the arts. From day one I was treated as one of the team and was given responsibilities and tasks. It wasn't a great deal of responsibilities initially but it sure wasn't making tea either. I still had to prove myself and show that I was more than capable and that is exactly what I did. I worked just as hard and carried every task I was given no matter how big or small with pride and interest. The Gate allows me room to make as many mistakes as I can but they encourage me to learn from them. I feel that I have the support of everyone from our Artistic Director, Chris, to my colleagues and mentor.
What work place do you know where everyone from the Executive team to the Administrator takes you out for coffee in your first week of work to introduce themselves and try to get to know you?
As a result of all this generosity, my confidence grew and continues to grow. My passion blossomed, so much so that I knew exactly what I wanted to do within three months of being here. When I say the Gate invested their time in me I mean they really do all they can to ensure that my time with them is not wasted, that I am learning and developing not just as an intern and employee but also as a person. They take time to find out who I am and to learn about me.
Thanks to the Gate and Creative Access for such an amazing opportunity; I’ve learnt loads and am really excited to now have the experience to have achieved an amazing job offer at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. And that, aside from all the fun and learning and friends at the Gate, is the most incredible and exhilarating outcome from my internship.