Summer Work Experience

An opinion piece published by The Guardian Blogging Students.

Summer Work Experience: Why You Should Give It A Go

When you’re older it’s much harder to change career direction. But for us students it’s easy. This is the one period in our lives where we can try different jobs, even if just to satisfy a curiosity.

That’s why the summer is your best opportunity to get work experience and try something new.

The idea of trying out a career might not seem as fun as the thought of going on holiday with friends, but once we graduate everything changes. The opportunities we have as students disappear, and time to experiment or work for different people shrinks dramatically.

Even placements that don’t turn out how you expected can be beneficial – they give you direction for the future.

Adam McGhee, a photography student at Falmouth University, secured an internship with a famous fashion photographer during the Easter holidays. He started feeling confident that this field suited him, but finished realising “the large and fast paced world of commercial and fashion photography wasn’t a path I wanted to take.”

Despite this, the internship was still a useful experience. He says: “I left with a clearer understanding of where I want to work.”

Bad internships aren’t bad; they are often blessings in disguise.

Harry Johnston, a geology student at Exeter University, won a competitive internship at an oil company last summer. This was a well-paid position that almost guaranteed a job after graduation. But the experience didn’t turn out quite as expected.

Johnston says: “I thought this would be the dream placement, but despite the money, working in a large corporate business wasn’t something I enjoyed. It was too impersonal for me.”

This experience completely changed his plans after graduation. “It forced me to reassess where I was going and reconsider some options I had previously ignored.”

Sometimes perfect internships do occur, and the working world meets our expectations or even surpasses them.

Laura Baggott, a textiles student at Falmouth University, completed an internship with a high-end fashion brand during the holidays. She says: “The work placement provided a clear insight into the industry, and helped confirm that I definitely want to work in fashion.

“Experience helps you better understand specific roles in the industry you are graduating into – which helps you decide where you want to be, and equally importantly – the roles that may not be for you.”

When students experience industry first hand it’s often not what we expected. It could be better or it could worse; but the ideas in our head usually don’t match the reality. The only way to confront those misconceptions is by entering industry, and trying it.

Choosing a career path is a decision that will affect the rest of our lives, and once that choice is made it becomes increasingly difficult to change it. We only have a few long holidays while at university, so we should use them wisely.

The Font: ‘The News A User’s Manual’

A short interview with Alain De Botton about his latest book, The News: A User’s Manual.

The News: A Users Manual

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The latest book by author and philosopher, Alain De Botton, is an inquiry into how ‘the news’ affects our lives and how we can avoid some of the negative consequences. I interviewed Alain about the book and his motives behind it.

Q. Why did you decide to write this book?

A. To make sense of one of the most powerful sources at work in the world today.

Q. If you were an alien what do you think your reaction would be to news consumption?

A. I’d be most surprised not by the fact there is so much news, but the way that we don’t prepare people for how odd this is. We don’t train people in the consumption of news. Yet there’s no more powerful force in modern society than the news. It shapes how we see the world, what we judge to be good and bad, important or silly, right or wrong. And yet too often, we don’t see the extent to which the news is forming our mentalities. Once our formal education is over, the news is the teacher.

Q. Do you think many people have an awareness of the psychological affects of reading the news?

A. We don’t interpret things at all. We let them wash over us. It’s like a cult, like a religion… In the developed economies, the news now occupies a position of power at least equal to that formerly enjoyed by the faiths. Here, too, we hope to receive revelations, learn who is good and bad, fathom suffering and understand the unfolding logic of existence.

Q. As far as habits of consumption, do you have any recommendations?

A. We should go a little easier on ourselves when it comes to indifference to the news – and recognise that we’re one of the first generations to have to deal with the torrent of information about things very far removed from our own lives. The modern idea of news is pleasantly flattering. Yet it’s really quite strange. We keep getting information that isn’t really for us to know what to do with. No wonder we’re sometimes a bit bored.

Q. Do you think the news will continue to define our societies virtues?

A. Yes, but hopefully, it will take its responsibilities more seriously. There are few more influential jobs out there…

Folk Radio UK: ‘Blue Rose Code – Interview & Video Session’

An interview with Ross Wilson, published by Folk Radio UK.

Blue Rose Code – Interview & Video Session

Blue Rose Code

Ross Wilson of Blue Rose Code runs his hand repeatedly through his thick lumberjack beard, gripping it roughly as he shakes his head in obvious frustration. His pursed lips shift into a wry smile before he opens his mouth and lets out a short Scottish chuckle, obviously amused at the simple question: Are you enjoying your tour? “Nothing irritates me more than hearing musicians complain about doing the thing they profess to love” Ross says “bedwetting musicians moaning about touring, it’s high class problems. For me, I love it”.

Since the release of his debut album North Ten in February, Ross has been busy: he’s clocked around sixty gigs, played the summer festivals, taken an exclusive trip with the BBC to Nashville and recorded two EP’s. So with the live tour soon coming to an end, what’s next? Wilson grins excitedly at this question “We’re going into the studio in December” he says rapping the table emphatically, “after that there’ll be no more live dates until the Album launch in May next year”.

Despite the buoyant progress, anyone who is familiar with Blue Rose Code’s more melancholy songs knows there’s a darker story behind the recent success. Now a recovering alcoholic, Ross struggled with addiction for years, eventually ditching music entirely during 2009 in an effort to dry himself out. He suffered for eighteen long months before gradually returning to music, but the purge did little to stem his drinking. For such a passionate musician, how did he manage without it? Ross lowers his head, shaking it at the same time “I thought it was going to save me” he says with steady eyes and childish honesty “I thought I’d be able to take myself out of the music business and that would help me drink safely”.

Checking himself in for treatment, Ross slowly managed to re-gain self control, weaning himself off the bottle. Several years later he’s teetotal, bringing his coffee mug up to his mouth his brow furrows and he kneads his temple as he considers the question: What was the decisive moment? “Either I was going to be a musician, or I wasn’t” he says slowly, leaning forward in his chair, placing the coffee mug on the table “and here I am, on licensed premises. It’s fine for me to be around drink because it’s not what I want to do anymore”.

With the dark days steadily receding, Blue Rose Code has been quickly gaining attention in the British folk scene, he has shared stages with the likes of Lau, King Creosote as well as the legendary Bert Jansch. Selected by the BBC for a recent showcase in Nashville, Ross and other emerging UK musicians performed in the international event, “It was great fun, amazing” he smirks modestly, his thick beard nodding up and down.

Later that evening Ross walked casually onto the stage, smiling and greeting the audience with his affable Scottish charisma, in the darkness the chatter quickly became subdued and all eyes focused on this hairy man in the tartan shirt. Performing solo, he was without the harmonies, double bass, banjo and other elements that make his album North Ten so thick and rich. But despite this, he was still a demanding presence. From the up beat ‘Julie’ to the eerie ‘Acquainted with the Night’ his solo presence was sublime, holding the audiences attention fixed for the full hour and half which was no small feat in such a cosy bar. After the encore he set down his guitar, stepped to the mike wiping his brow and looked out at the shadowy faces, “I’d like to thank you all. I’ve had a wonderful evening, you’ve been lovely”. The applause erupted.

There’s something particular about Blue Rose Code that resonates strongly with certain people. A word that perhaps nails this down, a word that appears in reviews of his album from time after time is ‘authentic’. Ross doesn’t disagree, tilting his head knowingly, “What groups everything together, what underpins it all” he pauses for effect “is me. The experiences I’ve had”. With lyrics covering his depression, addiction, heartbreak and love, everything is raw and visceral. “If I’m not being authentic”, Ross continues, spreading his arms wide, “then why would anyone want to plug into what I’m doing? First and foremost music has to be from the heart, it has to be authentic”

So with the tour winding down, how does he think his new album is going to turn out? Ross’s face cracks into a wide smile “All musicians say this”, his eyes light up and he pulls his chair towards the table, “but my next record will be even better than the last”.

‘Boys Will Be Girls’ – Pig House Pictures, Edition IV

In the small fishing village of Falmouth, what started as photographing friends in bedrooms dressing up, became living in the drag capital of the world, following the biggest queens in business. Working for Madam JoJo’s as staff photographer, Harriet kept her Polaroid and Hasselblad close, and captured life in the prized Tranny Shack competition. Invited behind the curtain, she saw and recorded, boys being girls

A substantial body of work, this first sparked into life as a second year project, with a few portraits of Falmouth students dressed as queens. As final year at University dawned and students were tasked with one final assignment, Harriet took the early idea and ran with it. Missing lectures, she hustled contacts and entered London’s glamorous drag world. Working at the notorious Madam JoJo’s, she became part of the thriving scene, “for one month I was there every Monday, Thursday and Friday.” She followed the queens night and day; made friends and gained trust. As the weeks passed rolls of film began piling up, and from the thousands of frames she found the edit which turned into a book.

Every player in this vibrant world is unique; there are Londoners, foreigners, young and old. “Some of them are hilarious, but some are really promiscuous. And you wouldn’t be able to tell if they were a man.” Each blurs their sexuality differently, but the women they become are constructed with precision. Larger than life in all areas, Harriet was surrounded with names that demanded attention: Ruby Wednesday, Dusty O; Snow White Trash; Matilda Von Mattress; Bourgeoisie; Miss Red. These are big names for big characters, and all of them were looking to perform. “It was never a problem for me photographing them, because they loved the camera.” Near bursting out of the frames, they flocked to the camera with glamour and poise.

Past the loud posing and glitzy names, there is another reality captured, more striking and honest. For the audience, they only see the glamorous powdered front – a striking woman in a tightly fitted dress – and buried beneath is an everyday guy. But in between, somewhere in the middle, in a lonely bedroom or a busy changing room, there is a period of transformation: Faces layered in makeup, body parts strapped away, buzz cuts covered, voices raised, expressions changed, walks altered. This twilight period lasts maybe an hour at the most, and only a few are privy to it. “When I arrived at the beginning of the night I would see them as themselves and then they’d put their makeup on they’d change into a different person. It was the strangest experience.” From mundane to fabulous, and fabulous to mundane, Harriet caught the shedding of their skin.

Contrasting with these candid and intimate moments are the series of classic studio portraits. Shot solely in Falmouth, these men are the local student queens. We have no drag scene here, and no businessmen with money, but the performance still continues for them in a similar glamorous manner. In the controlled environment the aesthetic naturally changes: Fleeting poses become formal and gazing eyes more vulnerable. Without an audience, in a quite room, these men reveal different things to the camera. “I like working in the studio, but it’s just the studio: White background, lights. There’s a lot more you can work with on location, and shooting in an environment like Madam JoJo’s there was so much going on.” How would the London queens, raucous and wild, have reacted to the clinical studio? Probably with ease. They are performers after all.

Through the body of work, with some frames in particular, you can see the influence of Nan Goldin. Their themes connect on some level: rich intimate moments in other worlds. And their styles overlap at certain points, with raw shots surrounded in blacks and deep reds. Harriet is conscious and respectful of this link; “I used her work aesthetically as a reference point, for my images to develop around. Aesthetically she was really important to me.” How she got there though wasn’t the same: Nan pointed a camera at her life, Harriet entered the lives of others and brought the camera with her. But the frames she came away with are close enough to pay tribute, and far enough apart to be her own.

The big thick book, ‘Boys Will Be Girls’ is printed and a University exhibition is close on the horizon, so this bold project seems to be over. But perhaps, there may be hope for more. Graduation is complete, and Harriet’s moving to the capital to start assisting in industry. “I’m going to try and carry it on when I’m in London because I’ll be close. I’m going to try.” We hope you do.

Cash Boy & Selector: Against All Odds

WHEN you drive past Okahandja, down a long dusty road lined with prowling warthogs and baboons, you eventually reach the Osire Refugee Settlement.

Founded in 1992, the camp has accommodated tens of thousands of men, women and children fleeing from conflict in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Despite aid from the UN and the Namibian government, life is harsh in this environment and many still struggle for their daily existence. But out of this adversity, Lusamba Bertin and Kawaya Jean have beaten the odds by pursuing their dreams of making music.

Performing under the stage names of Cash Boy and Selector, the 22-year-old cousins are just starting to hit their stride.

After dominating all talent shows around Okahandja, they were invited to perform at the Osire refugee camp for African Children’s Day which led to a stint of radio airtime.

In 2011 they became registered artists with the Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM), since then they have been performing regularly at expos and events in Okahandja and Windhoek.

This chain of events all began in 2007, when Bertin and Jean first started making music during a Grade 10 class at the Osire settlement school.

“We just started drumming and rapping during music class, and eventually we started getting better. It all started from there,” said Bertin.

Now living together in Okahandja, the artists practice their music every evening after a hard days work. Both still study and work full time. Jean is at the University of Namibia (Unam) and runs his own woodcraft business whilst Bertin is taking electrical classes at the Katutura Youth Enterprise Centre (Kayec) and is a cellphone technician at AD General Dealer. They record in every spare moment, keeping their dream alive.

Currently working with Okahandja producers DK, Maximillian and Creative Madness, Cash Boy and Selector are collaborating with a variety of local talent. Giving back to the community that made them, they have plans to stage a talent show in Windhoek during July, with a cash prize going to the winning group.

They’ll be performing for the local crowd but they won’t be competing, those days are over for the Osire rappers.