Phil Gee, Royal Opera House admin support intern
Having previously worked in the construction industry, Phil hadn’t considered working in arts and culture. But since doing an admin support internship at the Royal Opera House through the Creative Employment Programme, he now can’t see himself doing anything else.
I’m from Grays, which is in Thurrock, Essex.
What job do you do?
I couldn’t believe it when I saw an advert for the Royal Opera House on the Jobcentre’s system!
The aim of the programme is to provide free business support to the creative and cultural industries in the East of England, helping them save money and become more sustainable.
I’m based in an office in High House Production Park in Purfleet, Thurrock. It’s a great place to work and we share the site with Creative & Cultural Skills’ Backstage Centre, the Royal Opera House’s Set Production Workshop and about 40 Acme artist studios.
What did you do before this?
Before joining the ROH, I worked in the construction industry, but I didn’t enjoy it at all and was looking for a career change. I was unemployed for a bit and claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance whilst looking for new opportunity, but I wasn’t 100% sure about what I wanted to do.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw an advert for the Royal Opera House on the Jobcentre’s system! Having read the job description a number of times I thought it was something I could really relate to. Even though my previous experience was in a different industry I still had skills I could bring to the job.
What does your role consist of?
I provide admin support to the Culture Change project. We are a fairly small team so we all work very closely together, but the main parts of my role have been to develop databases, help organise events, and collate information for reports.
The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund so there is quite a lot of specific information that they require which I have to pull together.
I feel like I’ve found myself. I think I now know finally what I want to do!
I’ve learnt that to be effective in a role like this you need to have good time management skills and be able to meet deadlines.
This is something I struggled with a bit at the beginning of the role, everything is really fast paced, but I have had help from my manager about learning how to prioritise tasks and how to better manage my time.
What have you learnt?
I’ve always had an interest in the arts but this has helped me learn so much more about it. It has really opened my eyes up to a whole new world. It’s such an inspiring industry to work in and it’s amazing to see what goes on behind the scenes to make everything happen. I feel like I’ve found myself. I think I now know finally what I want to do!
Even though this internship was only for six months I think it has really helped me become more employable. Having the Royal Opera House on my CV, and having worked on a big ERDF funded project, will hopefully help my future job applications stand out.
I’ve now got lots of things to talk about in applications and interview, and I’ve got real work experience in something I actually want to do. The internship has helped me gain confidence, be more professional and improved my communication skills
What has been the best bit of your internship?
Probably doing a presentation on the Culture Change at the Bridge England Network conference. I’m not the most confident at public speaking but once I got going it was a real adrenaline rush – I actually didn’t know how much I had learnt!
Also getting to meet Prince Charles when he came to visit the High House Production Park was pretty special! I got my first job through the Prince's Trust so it was great to be able to say thanks directly to the Prince for helping me start my career.
What do you want to do next?
I really want to stay working in the arts. It doesn’t feel real that the internship is coming to an end because there is still so much work I would like to do on the project.
It is difficult being involved for six months of an 18 month project as it would have been great to see it right through to the end.
I have started applying for some other positions at a theatre company and also for an internal role that has come up, so am keeping my fingers crossed on those. I’m also going to be volunteering part time at Brentwood Theatre, which should help me to keep my skills fresh whilst I’m looking for my next job.
Culture Change was developed in partnership with the Royal Opera House, High House Production Park, Creative & Culture Skills and Thurrock Council. It was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.