I am working in the Birmingham REP Theatre as an Early Years Officer. I am also a freelance Creative Practitioner – www.lindsayjanebrown.co.uk From 22/11/2010 onwards I will be working for Valley House Association (Coventry) as Community Development Co-ordinator.
Whilst studying for my degree, I worked part time in nurseries and schools as a supply teacher/agency staff (for agencies such as Windsor –now Servoca- , Aspire and Monarch). I also worked as a freelance theatre education practitioner and facilitator for Sideways Theatre Company and and Bigfoot Theatre Company. After graduating I continued to work in this manner, juggling agency and freelance work. I loved the variety and enjoyed working in a range of settings. It was a great opportunity to build up networks and to observe a wide range of teachers, policies, activities etc. A few months after my graduation I accepted a position with Virgin Active as Club-V Manager (Club-V is the Kids Club, which catered for thousands of children and young people aged 0-16). This job role was a real learning curve for me – working towards budgets and targets, lots of extra, unpaid hours, managing staff etc. On reflection, this was probably the wrong career move for me but I did feel under pressure to get a ‘real job’ once I graduated. After a few months at Virgin I decided to hand in my resignation and go back to the freelance and supply lifestyle. I made a decision to continue with the work that I was enjoying, until something came up that really interested and excited me.
It was a year after graduating, in June 2009, when the vacancy came up at the REP for the ‘Early Years Officer’ position. I knew that this was a job that would keep me interested and motivated, with a range of funders and projects to keep things interesting. The knowledge that I could keep the variety of freelance working but also have a steady wage and security sold me and I applied. I was delighted to accept the position and have been here now for over a year. I am certain that I made the right choice.
In the past few weeks I have accepted a new position as Community Development Co-ordinator. This role will be attached to a Children’s Centre and is an exciting next step for me as I will be able to continue working with children and families in more strategic way, applying my creative and facilitation skills to the post. Once I have settled into the new role I will be sure to update this profile with a little more information.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
Being able to keep my days varied with a wide range of projects and having contact with lots of different settings, children and people. I also love being a part of a theatre, which has a real buzz to it (and getting free tickets is great too!). I am very lucky to be doing a job which I find stimulating and interesting, and to work with a team of people who are good fun and supportive.
What first attracted you to the University?
I had visited Birmingham before and loved the city. When I was looking at University courses I kept changing my mind about what to study and where to go – but every time I changed my mind about the course, I still looked to see if Birmingham facilitated it! I still love Birmingham, and continue to live here. The university is beautiful and feels like a redbrick straight from an film, but it is the city that really sold me!
What were the best bits about your time here as a student?
The campus is beautiful, the city has a great social life, the societies are fantastic (make sure that you join these in your first year – it’s so much harder later on!)…
Definitely stay in halls in first year. Even if they are crumbling and falling down, as mine were (they have now been replaced with GORGEOUS buildings!) it is still the best way to get a strong network of friends built up and to feel part of a community from day one.
How did you grow as a person by coming to University?
I gained independence skills and life experience by living away from home. I gained academic experience from my degree. I gained extra experiences by accessing opportunities offered (trampolining, directing theatre, voluntary work…).
What did you think of the learning experience within the University
CCE was a make or break course for life skills. Because the contact hours are low each week you either learn to prioritise, embrace lots of extra activities and gain great time management skills… or you waste a lot of time! Take the opportunity to gain practical experiences that back up your academic knowledge – get a relevant job, do some work experience, volunteer for a children’s’ charity, do reading support in a school… use the time! So many people graduate with a great degree and no work experience and then struggle to find a job. If you are lucky enough to have non contact time in your week – sue it to your advantage!
Did you find the degree programme at Birmingham challenging or easy?
I found CCE a good mix of modules that influenced good working practice and module that really got you thinking. This not a ‘childhood studies’ course, it is more academic and more challenging. This is what I loved about it – bringing together so many disciplines with the common thread of children and childhood. You will become a better practitioner in practical work with children but you will also gain an understanding of psychology, philosophy, history, English literature, language acquisition…
Did you find your degree helpful to you in getting your first job?
I think that having a degree from The University of Birmingham looks good on any application and, for me, having a relevant degree was a big help.
Advice for current students
Give CCE the respect is deserves. Other people don’t get it but that’s fine. If you know you want to work with children and enjoy the humanities then this is perfect. Use your non-contact time to gain great experience.