My unpaid traineeship

We ask Anthropology student Eli Hayes about her unpaid traineeship experience


Name: Eli Hayes

Degree course: HSPS

College: Downing

Will graduate in: 2019


The Careers Service Arts and Heritage Bursary allowed me to complete an unpaid traineeship at Bold Tendencies this summer. I am studying Social Anthropology, approaching my penultimate year, and have a keen interest in working in the Arts when I graduate next summer. The opportunity to participate in the traineeship scheme run by Bold Tendencies, a not-for-profit organisation based in the Multi-Storey Car Park in Peckham, South London, would not have been possible without the support of this funding.

My traineeship involved the practical, day-to-day running of the site, which occupies the upper levels of a previously disused car park complex in Peckham Rye and houses seasonal sculptural commissions responding to various thematic stimuli, as well as contributing to the site and season’s development and position within the local community. I was also responsible for working events, such as orchestral concerts and local engagement and education projects with children, run by a woman named Sasha who happens to be a Pembroke Alumnus and studied Social Anthropology, like me!

Eli’ fantastic view from “the office” in Peckham

As well as working on site, the traineeship is intended to provide young people with experience in a field that tends to be somewhat exclusive, and so Hannah Barry and her team (Hannah is another Alumnus of Cambridge) organise various Mentor Talks throughout the summer season to give us an opportunity to meet with, talk to, and learn from people working in the Arts – from artists to curators, writers to publishers. I found these talks invaluable and very complementary to the programme of work we were engaged with.

‘valuable contacts and friends whom I can rely on for advice and guidance forever’

Highlights of the traineeship for me personally included seeing behind-the-scenes of a successful contemporary art institution that not only prides itself for the quality of its art and entertainment programme, but also on its active engagement with the local community. Something which, in the context of growing concerns regarding gentrification in the city, is a dominant discourse within the Arts more broadly. I also relished the opportunity to make friends with other like-minded young people who were in the same position as me! The team and the trainees were all amazing and incredibly friendly which only added to my enjoyment of the six weeks I spent working on site.

Importantly, our engagement with Bold Tendencies and all the mentors doesn’t end when the six weeks is over; we are invited back to mentor talks throughout the rest of the season, and can take away valuable contacts and friends whom I can rely on for advice and guidance forever.

Jenna Sutela, ‘Neither a Thing, Nor an Organism’ for Bold Tendencies

All in all, I have the Careers Service to thank for allowing me to partake in the traineeship, which has provided me with an unbelievable wealth of knowledge and experience about the arts, taught me a lot about myself and what I want to do with my future, and provided me with friends I hope I will keep for a long time!

If you’re interested in the arts and heritage sector, visit the Careers Service website for useful resources and bursary information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *