First year work shadowing at Seven Stories

The graduate job market is competitive. Alongside academic performance, employers are looking for students with relevant work experience. Demonstrating your employability is key, and it’s never too early to start – which is why Newcastle University’s Careers Service offers a work shadowing programme for first year students.

As part of the 2016/17 programme, Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books welcomed three first year students to their Visitor Centre to shadow our Learning and Participation and Front of House teams for a day over the Easter vacation. I talked to the students about what they got out of the experience…

Hello Akiba, Hannah and Katy! Tell me about your first impressions of Seven Stories.

Akiba: It’s even more exciting than I anticipated!

Hannah: And so colourful!

Tell me about your studies.

Hannah: We all study English Literature at Newcastle University, so we sort of knew each other before we came to shadow at Seven Stories. We’re all in our first year – so far, I love it!

Hannah in the Michael Morpurgo exhibition. Image taken by Katy.
Hannah in the Michael Morpurgo exhibition. Image taken by Katy.

How did you find out about the First Year Work Shadowing programme and secure this placement at Seven Stories?

Katy: I met Rachel at the Seven Stories stand at the Creative Careers event on 1st March and signed up for more information about placements. Then, Rachel contacted me with about the First Year Work Shadowing opportunity, and I emailed her with my CV and a couple of paragraphs on why I was interested in the placement.

What attracted you to undertake a work shadowing placement at Seven Stories?

Hannah: I visited Seven Stories as a child – so I wanted to see what careers here were like as an adult!

Akiba: I’m interested in going into a career in publishing, and Seven Stories encourages children to explore the world of books, so I was attracted to explore careers related to the publishing industry.

Katy and the unicorn in the Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories gallery. Image taken by Akiba.
Katy and the unicorn in the Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories gallery. Image taken by Akiba.

So what have you been up to during your work shadowing placement?

Katy: I sat in on Beth’s school session with the Reception class in the Studio. First we had a workshop, which the kids loved – and it was really interesting to see how Beth changed the activity every ten minutes or so to keep the children engaged. She gave every child the chance to participate and she knew how to get everyone’s attention when she wanted the class to listen.

Hannah: It was really interesting to watch how the teachers interacted with the Storycatchers, too. Today we’ve seen careers at Seven Stories and careers in teaching.

Akiba: We went to watch a storytime with Cathy, and I loved the performance aspect! I don’t think I could do it though. We also spent time in the exhibitions, reading books in the bookshop and talking to the Front of House team.

Akiba in the Michael Morpurgo exhibition. Image taken by Katy.
Akiba in the Michael Morpurgo exhibition. Image taken by Katy.

What have you learned from today, and what impact will your work shadowing placement have on your studies at Newcastle University?

Hannah: We’ve recently been having some lectures on children’s literature by Professor Kim Reynolds, and there’s more to children’s books than you might think. Today’s visit has definitely reinforced that: children’s books are about children’s first steps into reading and they play a really important role in language development.

Katy: Reading the books in the bookshop also made me think that children’s books can represent serious and dark themes – Pandora by Victoria Turnbull was heartbreaking. And images can be just as important as the words in children’s books.

Any final comments?

Akiba: I truly appreciated the kindness of the Seven Stories team for being so warming, making me feel comfortable and answering on any questions that I had. Thank you!

Author: Rachel Pattinson

The Vital North Partnership is a strategic partnership between Seven Stories and Newcastle University, supported by Arts Council England. The partners share the goal of achieving excellence in the field of children's literature. I provide project management, development, co-ordination and communication functions to facilitate the Partnership's work.

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