Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Metropolitan Opera Internship Diary - Part 4, Interview

While I was away in New York, I was interviewed by my university (London College of Fashion) for their student news page on what it was like to do an internship abroad. Here is the full interview - I hope it gives you a little more insight into my experience and advice for other costume students. 

Which company are you working for and what is your role?
I am spending five weeks in the Costume Workshop at The Metropolitan Opera, New York. My role is to assist production supervisors, assistants, shoppers and visiting costume designers.
What made you want to take work experience abroad?
I wanted to take the opportunity to explore a city, other than London, where I could see myself living in the future. The Metropolitan Opera is one of the most famous and respected performance venues in the world. Award-winning designers from all over the world come to work at this large and busy theatre, producing costumes for a huge range of productions. In the short space of one month, I would not only learn a lot but be introduced to so many people in the industry – it was an opportunity I just couldn’t refuse!
How has the LCF Careers team supported you in securing this opportunity and throughout your work experience?
I first heard about the internship at the Metropolitan Opera through LCF Careers. When I started the application process I needed to write my CV and Cover Letter and the team were an incredible help. My application was transformed from boring stereotypical CV to unique and memorable – I don’t think I would have stood a chance without their help!
What has been the highlight of your work experience so far?
As an intern, I was able to watch dress rehearsals and evening performances of the operas. Seeing the costumes hanging in the workshop that I had been working on come to life on stage is great. I saw “Die Fledermaus”, a new Met Opera production which was absolutely, incredibly beautiful, and was then able to talk to the designer’s assistant at work the next day - that was amazing!
What has been the highlight of working abroad?
The highlight would have to be meeting so many new and inspiring people who are so welcoming and supportive. I was so surprised to meet people from London too, who I hope to work with again in the future. This experience has been a massive boost for my confidence and has given me even more drive to succeed.
How do you think this experience will help you develop?
Any internship or work experience is the best way to learn. Being in a professional environment in one of the busiest places in the costume field definitely threw me in the deep end! My confidence has grown and I am beginning to understand what the life of a costume designer is really like. This is helping me to define what I want from my career and how I can make it happen.
How does your work experience build on the learning you’ve done as part of your degree?
It was great to see skills that we have been developing in class used in a real work setting. Even little things like seeing the same equipment or books used is really interesting and most of all seeing how an expert has tackled the tasks you are given at university is really inspiring and motivating.
What are your professional ambitions for the future?
In the long run my dream is to become a costume designer. I am not sure if I prefer film or stage, but this experience has educated me in which direction I would like to go in. The first step after I graduate would be to start assisting designers, and this internship has given me the contacts to go ahead with that.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt so far?
The most valuable advice I was given when I was on my placement was to stay open, positive and determined. Keep working hard towards your goal, make sure you share this and talk to the people around you. Ask questions, learn from them, make connections with people and hopefully they will help you on your way.
Why did you want do your placement with this organisation?
The Metropolitan Opera is a world-class venue. Although I did not know a whole lot about opera, the Met is known for its grand costumes and scenery, many productions by my favourite designers. I knew that going there would be the best place to find inspiration and make the connections in the industry that I need to take me further.
What is your top tip to students looking for professional opportunities within the industry?
Most of all, be open and willing to share your dream, desires and enthusiasm with others. You never know who you could be talking to, or who they know, so just one sentence to say that you are enthusiastic about something can change your path forever.
What is your top tip to students who want to take work experience abroad?
Make sure you research the role that you will be given and the logistics of doing an internship abroad – visas (wait time and fees), accommodation, travel expenses (not just flights!). Of course, grab hold of the opportunities in front of you, they are so exciting! But make sure that you don’t get any surprise last minute stress!

You can see the interview in context on the London College of Fashion website.

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