Riana shares her experiences at two recent internships

by | Apr 3, 2023 | Alumni/careers, Arts, Undergraduate | 0 comments

Written by Riana Shah, a second-year History of Art student.

Hi there, my name is Riana and I am currently a second year student reading History of Art. In this blog, I will write about internship opportunities here at the University of Manchester.

As I was approaching the halfway point of my studies, I began to think more about my future. I knew that I would love to pursue a career in the cultural sector, but I did not have enough experience in the field to know exactly which pathway I wanted to take.

In order to learn about the cultural sector, I applied for a placement at the Whitworth Gallery as a student ambassador for the Friends of the Whitworth. I work alongside the Friend’s association to identify and promote ideas for the Gallery to increase student engagement. For example, we are currently re-establishing a ‘Look Club’ – a space where Art History students and ‘Friends of the Whitworth’ members can come together to look at pieces of art up close, hear about curatorial decisions, and discuss shared interests. As part of my role, I have attended a number of meetings with members of the Tuesday Team. I enjoy these meetings very much, as I am able to be involved with the provisional outlines behind each trip, event or magazine article, and gain an understanding of the organisation required for these activities. At these meetings I am also able to present my ideas about increasing student engagement, and – like with the ‘Look Club’ – eventually see some of these ideas come to fruition.

I have often thought about why exhibitions have been displayed in the way that they have, how this affects the audience’s engagement with the art, and whether this was the artist’s intention. So, exploring this further, and seeking to gain more first-hand experience within the cultural sector, I successfully applied for an internship as a curatorial assistor at Castlefield Gallery. My role involves working alongside the gallery’s research curator in his exploration of the potential of archives, and I am currently working on the installation of their upcoming exhibition: Archives at Play 2. So far, this process has reinforced my organisational skills and developed my ability to establish rapport and relationships with others quickly and easily.

These two opportunities were advertised to me through the individual institutions’ connections with The University of Manchester. In applying to these placements, I have not only gained many important skills, but I have also become familiar with application processes, including preparing and enduring interviews. These placements have also provided me with the opportunity to explore various pathways within the cultural sector and helped me to determine the direction of my future after University.

The University also offer career assistance through its service, ‘CareerConnect’. This is a free service that anyone can join, and that is catered to your interests and goals. As well as offering advice on tasks such as CV writing, CareerConnect send out weekly emails with internship and placement opportunities. This is another fabulous opportunity that the University have to offer and that I would strongly recommend making use of.

All in all, I would highly recommend embarking on a placement or internship.