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Apprenticeships - Case Studies

 

Read what our apprentices say about life at the Royal Opera House:

Tommy Judd, Scenic Metalwork Apprentice

When Tommy saw the apprenticeship advert he was just about to finish a two year, BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Engineering at Thurrock Technical College (now part of South Essex College). Prior to that he had studied a BTEC Level 2 in Engineering for two years at school.

Where did you see your apprenticeship advertised?
In the Thurrock Gazette

Why did you apply?
I had just come out of college and was looking for an engineering apprenticeship.  I saw this apprenticeship advertised and thought it would be a good opportunity to further my career with such a good company.

Is your apprenticeship what you expected?
I didn’t know what to expect when I started but once I got into the flow of things I realised I’d made the right choice.

Can you describe a typical day?
It’s sort of different every day.  You’re never doing the same thing.  We spend a few weeks building one production and then when it’s finished we clean down the workshop ready for the next one.  But the work on each production is never the same.

What’s the best thing about your apprenticeship?
It is not boring!  I don’t feel that coming to work is a chore!

What do you see yourself doing after your apprenticeship?
I would really like to stay within the industry if at all possible.  Otherwise I’d definitely like to stay within the engineering.


 

Georgia Butler, Exhibitions Apprentice

After leaving full-time education, Georgia worked in childcare and in recruitment before applying for the Exhibitions Apprenticeship at the Royal Opera House. Georgia had always loved the arts and doing an apprenticeship has given her the qualifications and skills to pursue a career in the industry.

Where do you see your apprenticeship advertised?
The Royal Opera House website while I was looking for tickets for the ballet.

What does an average day involve?
My average day working day involves event planning, working off-site in Kent stores, installing exhibitions, condition-checking items front of house, and planning and organising projects.

What is the best thing about your apprenticeship?
The variety of work I get to be involved in and working in a friendly team.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Working within an Arts organisation.

Opera or Ballet – which do you prefer?
Ballet although I have learnt to appreciate opera too!

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?
The apprenticeship is everything I expected and more. I expected the ROH to be a great place to work because of the reputation of the ROH but I didn’t expect it to be so friendly and open. It has provided me with so many learning opportunities.


 

Louisa Troughton, Costume Apprentice

When Louisa applied for the apprenticeship at the Royal Opera House, she had returned to working full-time in retail after completing an introductory course (level 1) in tailoring at Newham College. The apprenticeship has allowed Louisa to support herself while gaining vocational training and further qualifications in tailoring.

Where did you see your apprenticeship advertised?
I saw the costume apprenticeship advertised on the Royal Opera House website. There was plenty of information and the scheme seemed to be really well run. I downloaded the form and the application just seemed to write itself!

What does an average day involve?
My days are always varied and I get the opportunity to spend time in different departments: Ladieswear, Men's Tailoring and Performance Support. An average day can involve anything from attending a costume fitting with the designer, performer and pattern cutters, to making up the garments with the help of the team, or preparing fabrics and trimmings. Sometimes I even get to watch one of the general rehearsals of a new production!

What is the best thing about your job?
One of the best things is getting the chance to work with and learn from the experienced and talented people who work in the costume departments at the Opera House. The days can be hard work but there's such a sense of achievement when I finish a piece of costume and know that it could be part of a ROH production for many years to come.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?
The apprenticeship has already given me a lot of confidence in my abilities and, even though I've still got a lot to learn, I feel sure that a career working in costume is right for me. I'd like to have a lot of different experiences but I think it will always be an ambition to come back and work at the Royal Opera House as a fully-fledged member of staff.

Opera or Ballet, what do you prefer?
I've always really loved ballet - the costumes, the music and above all the amazing skill of the dancers and choreographers make it such an experience. Before I started the apprenticeship I didn't really know anything about opera and thought it wasn't really for me. Recently though, I got to see a production of an opera here, Written on Skin, and it was amazing, I couldn't stop thinking about it!

How do you find the work/college balance?
The work/college balance works really well for me, it's flexible in that my tutors understand there might be times when I'd like to be at the Royal Opera House more if there is something there I need to focus on. It's also nice to be part of a student community, making friends and sharing experiences with people who are also learning.

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?
I think it's even better! I was surprised at how involved I get to be in the work going on in the departments and that I'm trusted to work on important projects. I also get a great amount of support from the team who run the apprenticeship scheme. I feel like they really want to help me succeed, which is a good feeling. The Royal Opera House is such a lovely and welcoming place to work and I feel very lucky to be doing this apprenticeship.


 

Sam Harding, Education and Tours Apprentice

Where did you see the apprenticeship advertised?
On the ROH website. A friend had seen the apprenticeships advertised.

What made you apply for the apprenticeship?
I have always been interested in the theatre, and had considered acting. I was drawn to the education role as I wanted to learn more about backstage at a theatre, and how a venue is run.

Describe a ‘typical day’ as an apprentice at the Royal Opera House?
Every day is different! When I get into the office I usually start by checking my emails, then sorting out any resources that are needed for events happening that week. I spend a lot of time making sure that I am liaising with the right people to get the right things in the right place at the right time for an event to run smoothly.

How do you find the workplace/college balance?
My apprenticeship is heavily workplace based. I usually spend 1 day per fortnight on college coursework.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
The fact that every day is different!

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?

I have been surprised and pleased by the level of responsibility that I have been given, so I feel I am getting a lot more out of the experience that I would have expected.

What would you like to do after your apprenticeship is completed?
To stay working within theatre or the Arts.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship at The Royal Opera House?
Go for it! There is no reason why it can’t be you.


 

Ally Friedman, Scenic Capentry Apprentice

Where did you see the apprenticeship advertised?
On the website – I’d been looking for a carpentry apprenticeship in a creative industry for a while with no luck. I was applying for a different job at the Royal Opera House when I saw that they offered apprenticeships. There were no vacancies at the time but I signed up to the job alert emails. Five months later, there was a vacancy and I applied.

What made you apply for the apprenticeship?
I’ve always enjoyed making things and theatre but I never really thought I could combine both into a career. It was pretty much the perfect opportunity for me.

Describe a ‘typical day’ as an apprentice at the Royal Opera House?
There is no ‘typical day’! One day you might be building 5 metre long scenery flats for a new opera, the next day you’re taking apart and repairing the set for a ballet that’s just come back from Japan. In the workshop, we’re normally building sets for three or four different productions at a time. Every day is something new. It’s an amazing place to be an apprentice because you see such a variety of methods and styles of scenic construction.

How do you find the workplace/college balance?
I go to college on block release; this means that every couple of months I have a two week long period at college. We cover a lot of things we might do very often at work so I get to learn a wide range of carpentry and joinery techniques. I didn’t do that well in school when I was younger but I’ve found that now I’m studying something I really enjoy and understand, I love being there and I’m having no trouble keeping up with the workload.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
The pride in seeing something we’ve been working on for months finally on stage, to be seen by thousands of people. Knowing that I’m at the beginning of a career I love.

Is the apprenticeship what you expected?
I had high expectations and it’s exceeded them. Especially the amazing support and the opportunities offered to us.

What would you like to do after your apprenticeship is completed?
I’m not really sure yet! I’d like to keep working in theatre and to spend time at different workshops to expand my skillset. Now I’m also considering a different path - further studying bench joinery and maybe even fine woodwork. Fortunately, I’ve got a while before I need to worry about what I’m going to do with my life…

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship at The Royal Opera House?
Ask questions. As apprentices we’re here to learn and everyone wants to help us do this. Since I first walked in the workshop, I’ve been asking endless questions about absolutely everything and I’ve learnt so much. The time passes much faster than you expect, so you have to make the most of it.


You can find out more about the Apprenticeship scheme on our FAQ page.