Work experience at the ROH: Not a tea-making duty in sight
One Student Ambassador reflects on a week with the digital teams at the ROH.
At the end of the Student Ambassador scheme last Season I was lucky enough to be offered a week’s work experience at the Royal Opera House.
I was immediately struck by how vibrant and exciting the Royal Opera House is, even out of Season. Everyone has a passion for what they do which really shines through. Plus, you never know who you might bump into down a corridor: a Principal dancer warming up for Don Quixote rehearsals, a crew setting up for the GQ Awards, or one of the world’s top directors heading to the Main Stage for a rehearsal of Les Vêpres siciliennes. At some organizations, the height of responsibility for those on work experience is making a cup of tea – not so at the Royal Opera House!
As a Computer Science student I was really interested to know more about the digital side of the Royal Opera House. How do they create the vast array of content for their website and social media? What do the technology team have in place to cope with sudden influxes of website visitors on booking days? And how does it all tie into the artistic side of the organization?
I spent the first two days working with the Digital Development team who design and maintain the website and internal computer system. They also develop tools like the new ticket search on the homepage: a great way to find bargain tickets for upcoming productions. I also got to see them working on the system scheduling rehearsals in all the studios around the building – you definitely don’t want that to go down in the middle of the Season!
Moving to the Digital Content team, the emphasis moved over to the content side of the website. I was amazed at how much diverse material the team creates in-house: from blog posts and email campaigns to video trailers and much more. I helped on a couple of projects, using my interests in both technology and content to help shape the design of some future features – very exciting stuff!
I happened to be working on first Student Booking Day, when the first batch of 10,000 tickets allocated just for students were released and gave feedback on the email informing students, saw how the website was boosted to cope with the extra load, and watched the conversation on social media in real-time as tickets were snapped up. This was a great experience, especially after being involved in discussions shaping the scheme throughout last Season.
I think the most amazing thing about working at the Royal Opera House this week is that you never know what you might end up doing. One minute I was writing a piece on Joyce DiDonato performing at the Last Night of the Proms, the next I was assisting on the production of a trailer for Les Vêpres siciliennes, then I was off to meet a Jette Parker Young Artist to discuss ideas for future blogs. A work experience placement at the Royal Opera House in an invaluable experience for anyone wishing to work in the arts. It’s rewarding, opinion-forming and valued by employers. I thoroughly recommend it!
Find out more about work experience at the Royal Opera House and our Student Ambassadors scheme.