Written by Guest blogger
Clara-Mae Turrall is a BA (Hons) Music & Sound Production Technology student and has been on her placement at Vibration Design and Production in London. She’s taken the chance to be a guest blogger for us and to tell you all about the highs and lows of her placement experience.
It’s not often that students get the opportunity to work alongside big companies like this. This is not to say that every student will get this type of experience, and it has not always been a walk in the park for me during the placement – but I have been particularly lucky with the experiences I have gained, in many aspects.
I study Music and Sound Production Technology, and with this course, there are so many routes you can take – I wanted to do a placement in Live Sound as this is an aspect of the music industry which is absent from my course. So, for the past 40 weeks, I have been working in London for a company called Vibration Design and Production, as a Production Assistant, which I saw advertised on MyCareersHub. The Vibration Group owns venues such as Printworks London, Magazine London, Exhibition and The Drumsheds, as well as many other smaller venues.
My placement has had many ups and downs – my role as Production Assistant involves tasks including working on new business enquiries, creating client quotes, placing orders with suppliers, generating AutoCAD plans and managing general administration. This is the boring side of Production, but the reality. There have also been so many exciting highlights of my time here, such as working on the largest event that Printworks had ever seen: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Global Conference for Media Freedom. I did have some concerns over the first few months, what with being a music student and finding that I wasn’t doing any Live Sound. I was worried to bring this up as I did not want to seem ungrateful for the job I was given; but I did, and found the benefits of doing so; the following jobs I have found myself having a major role on the sound team: 1 Finsbury Avenue Launch Party, Need for Speed: Heat Hustler’s Market Launch, The Body Coach January Workout, Huawei Developer Day, Jumpers for Goalposts Festival, FinTECH Talents 2019 and many more. This job has required me to work a lot of overtime, which can be very tiring at times but most of the time worth it, considering what I have been exposed to.
Another problem I encountered was fitting in with my colleagues – after joining the team at the busiest time of the calendar year with back-to-back events, I found it hard to find somewhere to fit in; all the colleagues were really stressed, and at one point did take out their anger on me. This was a hard thing to overcome, and it made me consider quitting. It was only about 5-6 months in that I felt like a member of the team, once I was given more responsibilities and started to get to know my colleagues more. This helped me with my confidence, as now I feel as though I can speak freely.
During my time at Vibration, I have managed to partake in a lot of training courses, including Avolites Lighting Desk Level 1, Yamaha QL Sound Desk training, and also gaining my IPAF 3A/3B license which allows me to operate mobile machinery, such as a scissor lift – which is something not all music students can say they have. I have also become quite an expert on AutoCAD 2D, and hope in the coming weeks to complete a course in AutoCAD 3D or SketchUp, software that would allow me to draw and plan out any production plans needed.
I have agreed with Vibration to come back and stay on when there are events or it is busy in the office over the summer and throughout my final year, and now I have now got a contact to gain some experience in Theatre Tech, and I will be helping out on sound at a small festival in July.
My advice for students who are thinking about doing a placement is – do it. It’s not always the easiest to find one, but if you put in the effort to really make your CV and portfolio appealing to employers, then you have every chance in getting one. Try and get a ton of experience and student roles that will make your CV shine – I was student rep for two years, a PAL Leader, made contributions to Nerve Radio and Magazine, and also worked for the Technical Team for the Old Fire Station, and this all definitely helped me to get a placement.
My mindset is that a placement can offer a world of opportunities and can expose you to a life you could live after you graduate. It’s a way to gain contacts and confidence and experience, a practice run to the real life.