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Second year Events and Festivals Management student Alicia shares her experiences and top tips for balancing a part-time job alongside taking part in the Work Based Learning module.

"Before doing my Work Based Learning placement at Storyhouse (a new theatre and arts centre in Chester), I was excited to be there, but I had the mindset that I imagine many students have before they start their five-week placement; why do I have to do this and how will I afford it? Between lectures finishing and the beginning of my placement I worked 40 hours a week, saved enough money to last the month of not working that much. However, I still worked at the weekends when not working at Storyhouse, so I didn’t have to dip into my savings too much. Also, 150 hours in five weeks is totally doable, we had two bank holidays during our five weeks, but seven hours a day, five days a week, for five weeks is 175 hours, taking two days out is still more than 150 hours. It is not as hard as you think! If you have a part-time job like I did, I told my boss five months before I would need the month off, but with the notice I gave him it allowed him to find cover, so I still have my paid job to return to.

"My first day at Storyhouse was potentially one of the funniest first days I have ever had. I packed my laptop and my lunch, and also made myself look like a working human and not a nervous, stressed human who wanted to cry like a child. I arrived at 8:45am, and at about 9:05am I began to ask the staff if they had seen who was supposed to be my manager, their reply was, ‘He isn’t in until 11’.  Thankfully I had been sent a task list that I could start in the bar area. The staff in the bar/restaurant area were so friendly, they even gave me a drink and a pastry for FREE, and proceeded to find someone who could help me.

"My first week, I helped marketing, I worked with volunteers and the front of house to help set up the press night and also greeted guests. On my second week I helped to set up the same venue for a wedding reception, and again worked with a variety of people. During the fourth week (WayWord Festival week) I assisted the volunteers with the events, checking tickets, working with tech, and assisting the performers.

"I worked on my own tasks to help Storyhouse with their future projects, I assisted in different departments as much as possible to gain as much experience as I could, such as; marketing, events coordinators, volunteers, I also assisted many other departments by inputting all the upcoming events into the venue booking system and attended some meetings.

"I had to be on my toes working in such a huge building with so many people, but also willing to learn and develop my skills. I met some amazing people with amazing ideas, who came from different backgrounds and had a variety of work experience. I really enjoyed my five weeks in a new environment gaining skills I wouldn’t have gained at my usual workplace.

"Overall it is a tiring but great learning experience, especially travelling two hours a day - but that’s what you could be doing after uni anyway. Some of the few things I learnt while there that others may use in their placement:

•             Find out what others wear before you turn up (I walked in dressed smart while half of the building was wearing trainers)

•             Boots meal deals are better than most (£3.30ish)

•             Do not get into gossiping

•             Eat your three meals (or at least snack). I didn’t eat as much as I normally would on my first few days and I was ridiculously tired. I quickly learnt that I was so tired because I was not eating enough

•             Being flexible with where you work will make you much more appreciated.

Find out more about Work Based Learning and life at UCS in general by chatting with one of our students

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