In an ideal world, most of us would probably love an internship in a prestigious company or organisation which might, following graduation, lead to our ‘dream’ job. Yet, for a number of reasons, sometimes internships can seem almost impossible to get. But, as it turned out, it was my hometown (a small fishing town in Cornwall) that provided me with a work experience opportunity.
Nestled in a town dominated by charity shops, betting agencies and pound shops is a small, but flourishing and well-established, art gallery. Having only spoken to the curator by email, I was sceptical of the type of tasks, which I would end up doing: fortunately I was very pleasantly surprised. I did end up doing some scanning but even this was more interesting than you might imagine. I was not scanning piles of documents that I had no opportunity to examine, but scanning scrapbooks of the ‘Lamorna artists’ who, having come to the area to study and teach at the Newlyn Art School, found the natural beauty of Lamorna cove completely enchanting. The menial job, which is scanning, meant that I was able to look at (and hold) original sketches by artists like AJ Munnings, which alone, were worth approximately £5000.
But I did also get to do things that were more proactive, such as researching public enquiries, which meant tracing local businesses and families. I also leafed through old books to find records from whom and when items were donated, and looked at the relevance of that particular item. My time there also involved cataloguing the pipe collections, as well as hanging paintings and attending a council meeting. It was diverse. Although, due to my lack of experience, they were limited in the tasks they could give me I was able to see how many different aspects of the gallery worked, from funding issues to cataloguing, to problems caused by petty town council politics.
Furthermore, as I was in my home town, it meant that after the initial week of work experience I was able to go into the gallery a couple of days a week throughout the rest of the summer, whilst still working in a summer job in the evenings. So even if a prestigious internship seems a little out of reach, there are other options, all be it perhaps in less exotic places, but interesting nonetheless.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons