What do students have to say?

Linking stage and film on a placement

A theatrical placement with a twist

Communications at Work students have even more opportunities

Rising to the challenge

Career chances can come from a placement

A group of students talk about placements

Linking Stage and Film on a placement.

My placement with Reading Repertory Theatre was a wonderful experience, a chance to understand what I had been learning in the classroom in a real world setting. The placement with the theatre company was offered to me and seemed the perfect accompaniment to my Shakespeare on Film module. The module dealt with the differences between Shakespeare's works as performed on stage and when filmed so I jumped at the opportunity to undertake a placement that seemed so well suited. I spent a couple of days watching the early rehearsals of the production in the Spring term before returning to the company during the Easter break in order to witness the journey that had taken place for the play to be stage ready. The wonderful set design and the attention that had been paid to the costumes and props as well as the lighting and sound was perfect material for my placement report. I was able to watch rehearsals, run through lines with actors and, at times, input my opinion on certain aspects of the production.

During my time with the Reading Repertory Theatre I experienced first-hand the kind of decisions and adaptations that have to be made when successfully putting together a production. The wonderful cast and crew at the Reading Rep were welcoming and their combined talents and dedication as a company were perfectly showcased not only through the onstage production but behind the scenes through the promotion and the back stage elements of the play. I was able to witness their creativity while immersing myself in the theatrical world of rehearsals, costume and lighting choices and script learning, while keeping in the back of my mind the connections between the on stage production of Proof and Kenneth Branagh's filmic version of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

The placement also opened my eyes to the level of attention that is given to the arts in the local area, something I had not been aware of before. The rehearsal spaces the company use in Reading town centre, Jelly, are committed to local arts projects meaning that companies like the Reading Rep are able to provide high quality performances to the local community. The company use a space at Reading College to showcase their performances and the relatively small space means that the audience are close to the action and able to truly experience the play that they are seeing. The production of Proof I watched as part of my placement was reviewed very favourably by the local press, a testament to those whose hard work and dedication went into the production. As well as the academic elements of the module, it also taught me, through interaction with the director, assistants and cast, that I have a real passion for the theatre. I am attempting to further this interest with a summer internship at a local Reading theatre and would one day like to pursue a career in this arena. I would thoroughly recommend an academic placement to my fellow students as mine was an enjoyable and rewarding component of my degree

Lily Brown

A theatrical placement with a twist.

Instead of writing a Modern Drama assessed essay at Part 2, I chose to do an academic placement. For some time I have been interested in online marketing and I mentioned this to Lucinda Becker, the placement tutor. She suggested I work for a company called Reading Rep, a relatively new theatre company in Berkshire.

The initial arranging of my placement was pretty speedy and I managed to decide on my direction, write a case for placement, have it approved and meet with Reading Rep in the space of about 2 or 3 weeks. We decided that the purpose of my placement would be to examine the online marketing of other theatre companies, such as The Progress Theatre, National Theatre and Donmar Warehouse. Then from these observations, I concluded by saying what I feel Reading Rep should do to improve their online presence. I was going to record this process in a blog format, so I can easily show potential employers my work. I worked on the blog from December 2013- February 2014.

I found the process really useful, and I liked the way I could break up the load of my academic work by engaging in something that contributed towards my degree and would hopefully enhance my CV. Although, I will admit that it was a lot more work than I had anticipated, however, this was mainly my fault because I chose to do my placement differently. Usually students do research and then write a report but I wrote my blog, attended report writing workshops and wrote the report. Therefore, my advice to people interested in academic placements is to really consider if you have the time and drive.

Personally, I have found doing an academic placement a really useful experience and it has helped me figure out my plans for the future.

Alice Foster

'Communications at Work' students can benefit from more than one academic placement:

As I was approaching my last two years of university, I knew that I would be required to start entertaining the idea of a career path for myself. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to incorporate real world experience with one of my modules in my second year. I thought the idea of a compulsory placement was brilliant as I wanted to do some work experience but never found the time and thought the process was fairly intimidating. The Communications at Work module made finding and undertaking a placement very easy and enjoyable; I had my placement in second year at The Fly magazine. I have always had an interest in journalism having gained opportunities before at Spark newspaper and online, however I knew the placement would give me hands on experience and an insight into whether this was the right career path for me. I had a fantastic week at The Fly; I was involved in the process of magazine publishing whilst being able to write featured articles. There was an extremely relaxed atmosphere and I was able to ask in-depth questions about the industry including the pros and cons. Not only did I have an insightful week, I was able to explore my placement in many ways through my report. I enjoyed the format of writing about my placement as I had a real input and could share my experiences.

It is this positive experience that led me to choose to do an academic placement in the following year with my Packaging Literature module. I automatically knew it would be beneficial for me as this time I wanted to explore my interest in publishing. I was very excited when I managed to get experience with Little Brown Book Group, a branch of Hachette Publishing Group. Both of my placements gave me a clear picture of the working world and the media industry. I have understood the routes I need to go down to get to my chosen career. Alongside this, I have evidence of skills in so many different areas of work and the ability to write a professional report, all which I have obtained before leaving university!

Sujata Burman

Although a placement can be challenging, it was worth the effort for this student:

Way back in October 2011, at the beginning of the Autumn Term, Parts 2 and 3 English students were told about a fantastic opportunity. We were now able to go and seek experience beyond the university and go on a placement as part of any module in our year. This would be an integral part of our degree and the placement report would substitute the end of term assessed essay. I eagerly took up this opportunity. I felt I wanted some experience outside of the university environment, something extra to add onto my CV and a chance not to have to write yet another assessed essay.

I sent off emails to possible opportunities and, eventually, I was accepted to go onto an academic placement at 'Shandy Hall' in Yorkshire. It was the home of the author Laurence Sterne and linked with my Eighteenth Century module perfectly as we were studying Sterne's A Sentimental Journey. 'Shandy Hall' is in the very tiny village of Coxwold: there is one pub, one tearoom and one church. I organised a placement at the beginning of my Easter holidays. I arranged accommodation in the only B&B in the village and rang the pub asking if I could have dinner with them every evening.

This was a nerve-wracking time. I did not know what to expect, I had launched myself into the unknown but it was also very exciting. The placement could not have been more successful. Everyone looked after me and I have had the most valuable and varied experience. I spent a day restoring the first editions of Laurence Sterne's books, another day I identified moths and another I discovered the experience of a digital Opera.

I will look back on my placement as an extremely positive experience as I have made friends and contacts now for the future that may help after my graduation in July. I have discovered another beautiful part of the country and I am currently writing up a report that includes all my combined experiences and reflects my enthusiasm for the academic placement I went on. I would recommend this opportunity to any student: it is not often you get this chance.

Anna Walter

A placement can lead to further opportunities:

At the beginning of my third year studying English Literature at Reading, I realised I should finally start paying attention to all those emails we get about getting ‘real world experience’. I have always been interested in the theatre so I went along to a meeting with Cindy Becker, talked to her about my interests and the modules I was taking, and she helped me to organise a fantastic placement with Reading Rep Theatre. Reading Rep is a new professional theatre company in Reading, and during the time I did my placement, the company was putting on a production of A Christmas Carol. My placement mainly consisted of observing the rehearsal process and the actual performances, and helping with front-of-house duties. I am currently writing my report about everything I learned, relating it to the module I took the placement in conjunction with: ‘Victorian and Edwardian Children’s Fantasy’. The best thing about the placement was that it has opened up further opportunities for me within the company. I was involved in marketing for their most recent production Miss Julie, and look forward to helping out with their future productions as well. My placement with Reading Rep was extremely valuable to me as a literature student with a particular interest in drama. I learnt so much about the processes involved in transforming a script into a brilliant piece of theatre, and everyone was so kind and helpful to me. I am so glad I did it, and feel much more confident about my prospects working in this industry. I would recommend academic placements to any student!

Jennifer Jope

Here is what some Communications at Work module students have said about the experience of a placement:

Miri Buac:

Placement: London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Media Assistant

Communications at Work has been a wonderful module which is very different from any other in the English department. It has allowed me to use my creativity in a variety of ways when creating the presentations and reports. This module certainly prepares you for the 'real world' of work - it allows you to explore a broad range of career paths and enables you to critique them afterwards. The placements I researched helped me discover my dream career and maybe this module will help you find yours too? I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a module which is pro-active, fun and inspiring!

Sophie Harrison:

When I came to pick my second year modules I saw Communications at Work as an opportunity to add some variety into my timetable. Unlike the standard Literature modules, Communications at Work involved practical, hands-on seminars with a focus on presentation skills. The other main appeal of the module was the compulsory work placement. With the constant pressure to build up an impressive CV, what could be better than getting some experience in the workplace and it counting towards a university module at the same time?

I was lucky enough to secure two placements for my course; one at a local newspaper and one at a national newspaper. Not only did this give me a brilliant comparison to write about in my final project, but these opportunities have helped me secure further work experience and a paid internship in the summer, as well as a portfolio of printed articles to take forward into my future career.

Overall I would highly recommend the Communications at Work module. It can be hard work balancing your placement with revision and holidays over the Easter break, but it really is a brilliant opportunity.

Elle Turner:

The Communications at Work module and placement is an invaluable opportunity to gain experience and increase opportunities. It is well known that any extra experience be it internships, placements or shadowing really add value to a C.V. and as students we are constantly being encouraged to seek out these opportunities. The Communications at Work placement gave me the push I needed to turn my intention of securing a placement into an actuality.

Each stage of the process; applying, interviewing and attending; introduced me to new problems and solutions. The process of applying for internships encouraged me to really tailor my C.V to the specific requirements of the companies I applied to, whilst simple things such as the email heading required some thinking to stand out in competitive industries.

My interviews took me to prestigious London PR companies which required careful research to prove myself a diligent and capable intern. Researching the company's aims, clients and key figures is a great way to show employers your dedication to the company whilst the consideration you show in your interview helps to reflect the attentiveness you are likely to show in all aspects of your work.

My actual placement was a really good opportunity to be introduced into the world of work and was an invaluable experience. From simple things such as the reality of working from 9 to 5 and the daunting task of approaching the "boss" to more specific tasks such as creating a compelling press release and promoting local businesses, the experience I gained has given me confidence in applying for and excelling in future jobs and is great to put on my C.V and increase my employability.

Overall, I'm really happy and proud of everything I achieved through this module and its placement


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