This summer, Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books has hosted a Santander University SME Internship. This Santander programme works with Newcastle University’s Careers Service and other universities around the UK to fund student and graduate internships with small to medium-sized enterprises.
I asked our Santander University Intern, Hannah, to tell us more about her time at Seven Stories.
Hi Hannah! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Hannah, I study English Literature with Creative Writing at Newcastle University. I’m going into my third (and final!) year.
Why did you approach Seven Stories about undertaking a placement?
I have visited Seven Stories many times and I am particularly passionate about children’s literature. I wanted to see how it works from behind the scenes, to get some experience and to see what it would be like to work there.
How did you secure the Santander University Internship?
I emailed Seven Stories to see whether I could do a few weeks’ work experience there. I was ecstatic when they said yes! A few weeks later I found out that I could do it as a Santander University Internship and be paid for it!
So what have you been up to during your internship at Seven Stories?
I started off with two weeks at the Visitor Centre. I spent a lot of time in the Studio helping children make kites, finger puppets, masks and paper boats! I got to chat with children and their families about their favourite books and characters, it was so much fun to get excited about Roald Dahl and J.K Rowling with them.
When things were quieter I surveyed people about their experience of Seven Stories and helped to tidy up the galleries. I got to help out with the Storycatchers’ activities too, including the Daydreamer performance, Little Gallery Explorers and Sensory Stories. It was great seeing how Seven Stories aims to give the best experience to all of their visitors and that they genuinely care about being an inclusive organisation.
The highlight of my time at the Visitor Centre was getting to be Mog the Forgetful Cat! It was hilarious trying to climb into the suit, and seeing the children so excited to meet the ‘real’ Mog was so entertaining. It’s an experience I’ll never forget!
I also had the fantastic opportunity to spend two weeks in the Seven Stories archives with the Collection team. On my first day there I let it slip that Michael Morpugo is one of my favourite authors. Next thing I knew I had been given a box of his letters to sort through!
There were letters from Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Philippa Pearce and all sorts of other famous and exciting people. It was fascinating to learn more about Morpurgo as a person and I was inspired by the way he has used his influence as a popular children’s writer to actually make a difference in children’s lives, both through campaigning and through the charity ‘Farms for City Children’.
What have you learnt from your Santander University Internship?
I’ve learnt how a museum or organisation such as Seven Stories actually works. I hadn’t considered before that there were so many different tasks involved in the running of the museum, and thus so many varied career opportunities.
It also taught me that I really thrive off working with people. I absolutely loved exploring the archives and the things I got to look at blew me away, but I did miss the interaction with the families that I had at the Visitor Centre.
I also learnt that I’m not as bad at origami as I thought!
What impact will your Seven Stories placement have on your studies at Newcastle University?
My time at Seven Stories has helped reawaken the magic of books for me. Sometimes when you’re studying literature you forget what an incredible experience reading is, it sometimes gets lost in all the analysis.
Spending time listening to children chat about their favourite books has also helped me better understand what children want to read. As I study Creative Writing, I’m hoping to write a children’s fantasy story for my dissertation. I have been thinking a lot about the lack of protagonists in this genre with a disability and this is something I wish to examine through the story and the essay that accompanies it.
I have now seen the immense wealth of unique material that the archive offers for research purposes, and can see how examining items from the Collection would bring a new dimension to my writing.
Do you think we should offer a Santander University Internship again in the future?
Definitely! The Internship itself was absolutely incredible and the financial support from Santander made it possible for me to do a longer placement. I have learnt so much and had an amazing time, so I’d definitely recommend it being offered again!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Just thank you so much for this opportunity; I can’t describe just how brilliant it’s been.