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Second year Events and Festivals Management student Alicia shares her experiences and top tips for balancing a part-time job alongside taking part in the Work Based Learning module.

"Before doing my Work Based Learning placement at Storyhouse (a new theatre and arts centre in Chester), I was excited to be there, but I had the mindset that I imagine many students have before they start their five-week placement; why do I have to do this and how will I afford it? Between lectures finishing and the beginning of my placement I worked 40 hours a week, saved enough money to last the month of not working that much. However, I still worked at the weekends when not working at Storyhouse, so I didn’t have to dip into my savings too much. Also, 150 hours in five weeks is totally doable, we had two bank holidays during our five weeks, but seven hours a day, five days a week, for five weeks is 175 hours, taking two days out is still more than 150 hours. It is not as hard as you think! If you have a part-time job like I did, I told my boss five months before I would need the month off, but with the notice I gave him it allowed him to find cover, so I still have my paid job to return to.

"My first day at Storyhouse was potentially one of the funniest first days I have ever had. I packed my laptop and my lunch, and also made myself look like a working human and not a nervous, stressed human who wanted to cry like a child. I arrived at 8:45am, and at about 9:05am I began to ask the staff if they had seen who was supposed to be my manager, their reply was, ‘He isn’t in until 11’.  Thankfully I had been sent a task list that I could start in the bar area. The staff in the bar/restaurant area were so friendly, they even gave me a drink and a pastry for FREE, and proceeded to find someone who could help me.

"My first week, I helped marketing, I worked with volunteers and the front of house to help set up the press night and also greeted guests. On my second week I helped to set up the same venue for a wedding reception, and again worked with a variety of people. During the fourth week (WayWord Festival week) I assisted the volunteers with the events, checking tickets, working with tech, and assisting the performers.

"I worked on my own tasks to help Storyhouse with their future projects, I assisted in different departments as much as possible to gain as much experience as I could, such as; marketing, events coordinators, volunteers, I also assisted many other departments by inputting all the upcoming events into the venue booking system and attended some meetings.

"I had to be on my toes working in such a huge building with so many people, but also willing to learn and develop my skills. I met some amazing people with amazing ideas, who came from different backgrounds and had a variety of work experience. I really enjoyed my five weeks in a new environment gaining skills I wouldn’t have gained at my usual workplace.

"Overall it is a tiring but great learning experience, especially travelling two hours a day - but that’s what you could be doing after uni anyway. Some of the few things I learnt while there that others may use in their placement:

•             Find out what others wear before you turn up (I walked in dressed smart while half of the building was wearing trainers)

•             Boots meal deals are better than most (£3.30ish)

•             Do not get into gossiping

•             Eat your three meals (or at least snack). I didn’t eat as much as I normally would on my first few days and I was ridiculously tired. I quickly learnt that I was so tired because I was not eating enough

•             Being flexible with where you work will make you much more appreciated.

Find out more about Work Based Learning at our upcoming Open Day. Book your place here.

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UCS University Centre Shrewsbury Work Based Learning Events and Festivals Management Shrewdent