Getting prepared for the competitive world of work

by Fanni Suto
04 April 2016

Hi everyone, I’m Fanni and I’m going to start by saying I think the University of Roehampton is a wonderful place to study. I was here as an Erasmus student in 2013, fell in love with the place and came back one year later to do the MA in Children’s Literature. Beside the picturesque campus and the thought provoking classes, students can also participate in a number of outside activities. In October I volunteered for Wimbledon BookFest (Roehampton is the lead educational sponsor) where I got to listen to some very interesting talks from Colm Tóibín and Shami Chakrabarti. In January I was nominated to participate in the Frontrunner Leadership course which helped me to hone my leadership skills. Finally, during the summer I participated in an internship project with the Battersea Art Centre (BAC). This is the experience I’d like to share with you now.
My eyes began madly sparkling when I received the email inviting us to apply for the internship. I’d passed the BAC by bus so many times before and I found it a beautiful and intriguing place. I applied for it because I want to get involved with as many extracurricular activities as possible; they are usually fun, you can gain valuable experience and last but not least they offer great possibilities for networking. My favoured academic field has always been languages and literature because they are inspiring, interesting and creative. However, when I stepped out into the harsh world of job applications, I realised that alone they might not be enough. That’s why I always tried to enrich my profile in as many ways as possible, since you can never know what skill or which acquaintance could help you to find the right job.
The internship offered us to participate in the Tuesday sessions of the Bee’s Knees, a playroom organised in the Art Centre where children can play in a safe environment and parents can meet up. The playroom is open every day, but Tuesdays are special: on that day the entrance is free and there is a resident artist who uses the time slot to work on one of their projects involving young children. The artist can either observe the children interacting or can try bits of a project they are working on to see if it works.
The idea of the collaboration between BAC and the Children’s Literature MA at Roehampton is to help students gain practical experience. We’ve learnt a lot about picture books and young children as an audience on our course but it’s very different to see how things play out in real life. For example, here is an important thing I learnt. I enjoy writing things with elaborate language and clever intertextual references (at least that’s what I like to believe) and yet I somehow had failed to see that I can’t expect a toddler to engage with the same story in the same way an older reader does. If a younger child doesn’t sit through an hour long recital it might not mean the story is bad, it’s just the child may need something more interactive and tangible to be able engage with it.
I really did have a great time with the kids. They seemed to like me - they kept coming up to me. I read to them, made faces at them and made them paper airplanes that didn’t fly.
The Art Centre is a lovely place to be and the employees I was in touch with were most helpful and kind. The internship helped me learn about a younger age group of children than I have done before as well as provided me with practical knowledge of their reading, which complimented nicely the more theoretical approach of my MA classes. As I’ve mentioned in the beginning, I would strongly encourage everybody to try to participate in as many opportunities as possible because they can bring you new friends, practical skills and useful insights.

Homgrown Company at Battersea Arts Centre - credit Oliver Rudkin

The University of Roehampton has a partnership with Battersea Arts Centre,
sponsoring the Homegrown Company, providing placement opportunities for students and supporting culture
in the local community.
Photo credit Oliver Rudkin.

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