Wysing & Kettle’s Yard offer a paid internship to young people involved in the Circuit Cambridge programme. Here Hannah Kershaw, our first Circuit intern, reflects on her journey with Circuit and where she is at one year on form taking on the role.
This piece is a little longer than planned but it was important to me that I touch on the various ways in which Circuit has impacted my life, both professionally and emotionally.
My time after graduation was hard. It was a period where I had to make a lot of adjustments. It was my first time outside the education system. There was no longer the guidance of tutors and support of my peers. My creative network had dispersed and my access to the library and workshops had ceased. I found myself back home, having lived an independent life for 4 years. I had to adjust my expectations, by this I mean lower quite significantly, of my employment prospects. I naively applied for ‘graduate’ jobs that really required applicants with 1 to 3 years relevant experience. How do you get that when you don’t have any to begin with? Suffice to say I had low self-esteem and felt of little value to society. And the only sad but re-assuring thing was that many of my friends were going through the exact same thing.
Then Circuit came along! Here was a programme that all 20 somethings could be a part of. I joined at the very start in August 2013 and met new people, engaged with creative work and inspiring artists. I felt valued and welcome. My Parents noticed a change in my mood. I was more energised, motivated and engaged. I applied for a 6 months internship that came up in March 2014 and was offered the position. This was a chance to develop my admin experience within the museum sector and gain a further understanding of the work and discussion that surrounds a programme such as this one. It also enabled me to get to know staff at the two organisations better and further my understanding of the types of jobs that exist within the sector. By the end of the experience I learned that I liked working on collaborative projects with a variety of people including community groups, but also having the opportunity to research and use my creative thinking.
I managed to secure further museum work as a direct result of being involved with Circuit. This included Audience Research work across various museums, which fitted around the internship and more recently a 9 month contract as a Digital Associate to help source content for an app being developed by the University of Cambridge Museums. My understanding of the aims and objectives of Circuit and the discussions I had had with different museum staff really prepared me for the interviews. I had more knowledge of how the industry worked including funding, objectives and the need for institutions to attract wider audiences. This helped me to answer questions in a more comprehensive and knowledgeable way. I was also more confident as I was employed and had been made to feel like valued member of the team who had something to offer. I had no idea how much better I could perform in an interview with just a bit of experience and a healthier mindset.
People told me that one thing would lead to another and I’m not sure I completely believed them at the time. But so far (touch wood) it seems to be turning out that way. I have been offered a new part time contract as a result of my work as a Digital Associate helping to develop online content for the University of Cambridge Museums. I have also just started a new part time role as a Curatorial Fellow at Kettle’s Yard. It is an interesting position that works across Community, Education and Curatorial departments to organise a collaborative exhibition in 9 months. It’s really the perfect role for me and Circuit helped me to work out this out and gain the necessary experience. The post is funded by the Artisa Foundation as a way to catalyse the progression of individuals in the early stages of their career. I owe a lot to the generosity of others and am truly grateful and appreciative of all the help I’ve had along the way.
Without being a part of Circuit and taking part in curating Helen’s bedroom at Kettle’s Yard I probably wouldn’t have been offered the Curatorial Fellowship. Being part of Curating Helen’s bedroom ensured I became more acquainted with the Kettle’s Yard collection and gained some curatorial experience. The Circuit internship helped me gain experience working on an educational programme and collaborative projects sometimes with community groups such as the project in Cambourne.
For me, Circuit did several things. It gave me an opportunity to engage with an arts programme as much or as little as I liked. It fuelled my interest in pursuing a career in the Arts and made it a possibility. It enabled me to meet new people and make new friends. I was very fortunate to be living at home and not having some of the financial pressures of some of my friends. But I do think without Circuit I probably would have pursued a different career path because of the challenges of securing work in the industry. I have tried to make the most of every opportunity, including supporting colleagues with their events and admin work. But everyone needs somewhere to start and for me that was Circuit. So a heartfelt thank you.