Work Experience blog
by Alice Preece
The prospect of work experience can be quite frightening. When my school announced very suddenly everyone in my year group needed to find a work placement for the end of the school year I was frankly terrified.
I was a 15 year old girl who was told I had lots of ‘potential’ but had no idea what I wanted to do in life. Pressure was coming from all angles – GCSE’s next year, choosing what to study at sixth form, then on to University. To most people it might sound exciting, I have my whole life ahead of me, right? Well to me, it was all coming too quickly.
I started ringing up any place I could think of that might offer work experience that I thought I might find vaguely interesting. I pondered what my hobbies were and what I enjoyed to do. I liked reading and theatre.
So: I tried my library, they were full; Waterstones – full; WHSmiths – full; Local theatre – full for 2 years!
I’m sure you can guess that by this point, I was panicking. Luckily, a saviour came (in the form of my mum) who found a rural touring theatre company named Pentabus located near Ludlow. I read a blog of someone who’d done work experience with the company before and I was hooked.
Skip forward a couple of months and I’m sat here in Pentabus HQ on my final morning of work experience and in all honesty, it’s been better than I could’ve imagined. While my friends have been working in offices producing work that could potentially be scrapped as soon as they walk out the door, I’ve been working on social media, reading plays, designing emails and surveys, researching funding, working on databases, making cake boxes and painting chairs.
I’ve also met the most wonderful bunch of people (including Patti the PentaPup) who were all so welcoming from the minute I stepped through the door on Monday morning. They’ve talked me through everything Pentabus does and what they stand for. I was never patronised or treated like a baby which happens nearly every day at school. It became apparent that age wasn’t a factor that anybody considered to be of any importance – I was treated like an equal. I grew the confidence to put ideas forward, something I would not have dreamt of doing at the start of the week, “Discussing important things? With actual adults? And my opinion actually having meaning? You’re joking.” The team just made me feel so comfortable. I felt like I’d been at Pentabus for weeks, not just a couple of days.
Having seen ‘Milked’ at Theatre Severn a while before my work experience, I knew the work they produced was great and figured there must be some serious hard work that goes into it. I had no idea. The genuine passion each member of the Pentabus team has for their company is inspiring. The amount of effort that goes into, not only the shows they produce, but everything else that’s involved in running a theatre company from such a small group of people is incredible. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch another play from the same point of view ever again.
Pentabus offers a very unique opportunity for many young people, whether that’s through their young writers programme or through offering work experience for people like me. This week has taught me so many valuable skills and has given me an amazing insight into ‘the world of work’.
At the start of the week if someone was to ask me what I wanted to do when I was older I’d say I had absolutely no idea. Now, although I’m still not completely sure, more ideas are forming in my mind of the kind of routes I want to follow, and that all comes down to Pentabus.
The heart of it is that everyone at Pentabus is passionate about telling stories and making them accessible to everyone. Something not a lot of theatre companies are all that bothered about. That’s what makes this place special.
If you’re sat at home desperately researching somewhere to go for work experience like I was not all that long ago, all I can do is urge you to contact Pentabus.
When I leave today, I can only hope it’s not the last contact I have with the company and the wonderful people behind it. I always thought work experience was just something every child was forced to do at some point in their school life so they had at least something to put on their CV. Now, I realise the true worth of it.
At the moment, all I can do is thank everyone here profusely. Thank you so much for welcoming me into the Pentabus team with open arms and treating me like an equal. It’s an experience I will genuinely cherish and I know it will help me along my way whichever career path I end up following. This week has been invaluable and not something I will forget in a hurry.