Interested in Theatre Design, Theatre Production and Art Directing?


Rhiannon Newman Brown talks about life as a freelance Theatre Designer, Producer and Art Director.

How did you get your job?

I’m a freelance Theatre Designer, Producer and Art Director. I have built up 10 years of experience and contacts enabling me now to thrive as a freelancer. I have always tried to take jobs which really interest me, be it the story, the company or the type of production, each project has to build on the last and develop my CV. It is hard work so if you are not really interested in a project or know why you are doing it, it is very hard to achieve it.

How did you decide what you wanted to do?

From way back when I took my A-levels I knew I wanted to do something arty for a living but was not sure what. I chose a history of art degree because I thought it would give me a solid, broad base from which I could specialise once I had figured out what I was going to do. Then while at university I did work experience with an interior design company to see if that was for me and I also got involved in the stage musical company at university. It turned out that theatre was the thing for me, and when I left university I got a job as an assistant stage manager for an opera company so that I could learn more about how a theatre worked and all the roles. I then applied for and did a 1-year postgraduate course (using my mostly unspent student loan to fund it) in theatre design. Following that year I worked on as many projects as I could, often small scale and not very well paid, but I built up quickly a good network of contacts and a number of directors with whom I worked repeatedly.

How relevant is your degree to your job and how do you use your degree within your job?

My degree is still very relevant to my work. Part of my degree was about the theory of aesthetics and how people interact with an art work. This theory is something I apply to every visual output I create, and it also applies to any audience experience of a production of many different kinds. I also have a great collection of books that I built up during my degree which I use regularly.

What are your main work activities?

When designing a show I spend slot of time researching ideas and the context of the piece. I spend time drawing and model making as well as consulting on how the sets are built and costumes made. When production managing and producing there is a lot of emphasis on budgets and schedules and lots of meetings with the various different parties involved in the production.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Juggling many projects at the same time and diary management to fit it all in, giving me enough space to be creative.

Career highlights and best moments?

L2012Ceremonies (1)L2012Ceremonies (2)

London 2012 ceremonies as a props Production Manager. Opening ceremony being on the field of play as part of such a massive show. The opening of Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future, a huge outdoor production that I produced.

Where do you want to be in 5 years time ?

Have my own successful creative consultancy and production company.

Rhiannon is Founder and Creative Production Director of Ninth House Creative

James and the giant peach show pics 015Road Rage (24)

Contributed by Careers in the Creative Industries

Want to leave the world of medicine?

Whether you’re a medical student or a foundation trainee, the prospect of divorcing yourself from a world you’ve (heavily) invested in is a huge one.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

In order to be sure of making the right decision in the first place, Year 11 and 12 students spend time finding and completing work experience to test their assumptions about becoming a doctor. Once at medical school, the question of which specialty they see themselves in begins to loom. Then in Foundation training, the pressure is really on to decide which of the 60+ specialties is the right one.

So, after all this intense decision-making in the direction of Doctor, Doctor, Doctor, what should you do if you begin to think, as a student or as a trainee, that it might not be for you?

Know yourself, know your reasons for leaving

Be clear on the specific reasons for leaving, is it stress, working hours, the pull of
another profession? If you’re finding it hard to specify what your reasons are, perhaps try writing a reflective journal including the highs and lows of each day. Write down questions that occur to you about your uncertainties. Try the reflective exercises in this resource on Career Change Toolkit (this will be more helpful to trainees).

Talk to someone

  • in the profession – a supportive tutor, a friendly peer in the year above (at medical school or in Foundation training) or a more senior doctor. Their insights might help you establish what it is you’re unsure about, and what you need to do to confirm or allay your fears. This is all about selecting the right person, if you feel someone might frown upon your thinking then they may not be the best counsellor.
  • in your family – this is a difficult one. Often the biggest investors in our futures are our families, especially parents or guardians. This may put you under extra pressure if they’re following your studies/career excitedly. However if you have really thought about your options and are certain about leaving medicine then try to be brave and talk with them; show them you’ve researched your options and explain your reasons for moving on.
  • neutral – speaking with a careers consultant will bring you an impartial, neutral space to house your discussions. Careers professionals are trained in helping people establish what’s important to them and making decisions that are right for them as an individual. Check your university’s careers service if you’re studying or check the services from your Local Education and Training Board (LETB) if you’re an F1/2.

Test your reasons for leaving

If you are interested in another profession, then could you arrange to do some work shadowing? If you’re concerned with the idea of taking exams until you’re 30+ then (as above) talk to people further down the line than you in different specialties;
find out how onerous it is and how they cope with it.

Research your options

If you’re an F1/F2, firstly remember to explore specialties that might minimise or even avoid the areas of medicine you aren’t enjoying (for example consider public health if the clinical work isn’t for you). If you’re not already familiar with them, visit the NHS Medical Careers specialty pages.
Beyond that, being trained medically is a huge asset to a number of jobs. The skills and knowledge lend themselves to a wide variety of roles: medical journalism, publishing, medical law, NHS management to name a few. Additionally, think beyond the medical sphere; management consultancy, civil service etc.

Resources, career ideas and case studies

NHS Medical Careers – Alternative career options for doctors. Great list of options with descriptions.

BMJ Careers – Moving on from Clinical Practice. Article about why people leave medicine and a diverse set of case studies of doctors who have left practice.

Medical Success – Alternative medical careers. Information on medical careers beyond the hospital and GP settings.

Medical Success – When can I leave medicine? An interesting case study about an F1 trainee who embarked on a new career path.

Careers Tagged – Options and Career Choice. Resources on choosing careers, employers, and options with your degree.

Vicki Tipton, Careers Consultant, Careers & Enterprise Centre, Queen Mary University of London 

Rock Physics and Scilly Birds: Exotic vacancies this week

Firecrest 091014 Regulus ignicapillus by Flickr user davethebird used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We’ve a bit of an exotic, international flavour to our jobs this week. Whether you’re interested in changing the world, studying the world or just working in a beautiful part of the world there’s something for you amongst our 3,027 vacancies on JobOnline.

Here are our picks for this week:

Thousands more jobs can be found on JobOnline.

Firecrest photo by Flickr user davethebird used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Career tips from an Editorial Assistant at the Royal Opera House


Royal Opera House by Flickr user photographyburns used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Paul Kilbey, Editorial Assistant at the Royal Opera House, shares his experiences in Arts publishing.

How did you get into your role?

I’ve wanted to work in publishing for a long time.  I studied music at university but was always more interested in writing about it than performing or composing, so I gravitated towards jobs where I used language.  After a while teaching English as a Foreign Language abroad, I moved to London and was lucky to be able to do a couple of internships, building up my professional experience.  There were then a few years working in and around classical music for startups, and I got my current job in the Royal Opera House’s Publishing and Interpretation team a couple of months ago.  I am also a freelance writer specializing in classical music; I write for a few magazines.

Over the last few years I have written a lot of articles for a number of predominantly online publications.  This has been really important for developing my writing skills, although it hasn’t always been the same as a conventional grounding in journalism or publishing – it has all been fairly off the cuff, and online is totally different from print, both in terms of how it works and also the standard expected.  All the writing made me well qualified for my current role – I’m an Editorial Assistant – but I still have plenty to learn.

What do you do day to day?

It’s very varied, and the workload changes depending on what projects are coming up.  There is always work to do preparing for future productions, although of course it gets busier in the immediate run-up to a show.  I have work to do in a number of areas including writing, proofreading, liaising with advertising clients and also working with publishing software.

What are the best things about working in your role?

My colleagues are very nice, and it’s an exciting place to work, with the rehearsals and performances happening all around us backstage.  And after a few years with very small companies, I am still hugely enjoying the perks of working for a major employer – cafeteria, IT support, payroll department, etc. Most of all, the job is an ideal mixture of my interests – classical music and publishing.  I’m lucky to be able to work in both at the same time.

What top tips would you pass on to a student interested in this type of work?

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that any sort of office experience is good.  Employers want to know that you can be trusted to correspond with people in a professional manner.  I had done very little office work on graduation, and this probably set me back a bit.

As for writing online – there can be huge benefits to doing this, but only if you’re serious and sensible about it, and aware of its limitations.  Blogging can lead to all sorts of interesting things, and so can writing for the many websites out there that will take your content, publish it, and not pay you.  But, unsurprisingly, doing this can also be very unrewarding, both financially and professionally.  You shouldn’t confuse success in these media with professional experience in journalism or publishing per se.  My advice is that if you’re considering writing for a blog or another website, it’s crucial to remember the value of what you’re doing.  This means two things: firstly, that you know what you stand to gain from your writing, even if you’re not being paid (are you gaining useful experience? Exposure? Nothing at all?); and secondly, that you only write things that you’re confident are good enough to merit publication.

Contributed by Careers in the Creative Industries

Royal Opera House by Flickr user photographyburns used under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Fat cats on tap! The Graduate Labour Market in 2015

Fat cat

A Fat Cat with a tap yesterday, contemplating the results of the survey

Photo credit: Mark De Freitas

There are a number of key themes arising from High Fliers “Graduate Market in 2015”, which surveys the UK’s best known graduate employers:

The graduate job market is improving:

  • The number of graduates hired in 2014 rose by 7.9% compared with 2013;
  • Vacancies are predicted to rise by a further 8.1% this year;
  • This takes the number of vacancies beyond the pre-recession peak.

The importance of work experience

  • Previous work experience continues to increase in importance:
  • 31% of graduate positions in 2015 are expected to be filled by graduates who had work experience with that particular organisation;
  • Nearly 50% of the employers surveyed warned that graduates with little or no previous work experience at all are unlikely to gain a job with their organisation.

Many employers are likely to re-open recruitment later this year:

  • Over 700 graduate positions with top employers were left unfilled last year.
  • The Careers Group and your University of London College will help you contact these employers. For example, watch out for the Spring Grad. Fair (sponsored by Wikijobs) on Wednesday, 18th March

Contributed by The Careers Group’s Graduate Outcomes group

Assessment Centres: Civil Service Fast Steam


© All rights reserved by UCL Careers

Following on from a recent post about preparing for assessment centres, here’s an insight into the assessment centre for the Fast Stream (the graduate scheme for the civil service) from one of the Careers Group’s own Careers Consultants who was invited along to observe.

Our ‘spy’ watched three of the activities for the day: the group exercise, leadership exercise and interview. As part of the day, there was also a policy recommendation exercise which each candidate wrote individually.

Group Exercise

What it is: the candidates were given a fictitious scenario where they had to negotiate the best outcome for ‘their’ department and for the group as a whole. The candidates had some time to prepare and then discussed the scenario as a group.

The exercise is designed to test whether the candidates can make effective decisions, work collaboratively with others, lead and communicate and deliver value for money.

What the good candidates did well: Didn’t take charge, but helped keep the group on track both in terms of task and time. Stuck closely to the instructions given beforehand. Listened to the points of views of others and actively encouraged involvement from the whole group.

Leadership exercise

What it is: Each candidate had to brief a manager on how they would take on the role of team leader in a fictitious team which is facing a number of issues.

The exercise is designed to test whether the candidates can see the bigger picture, change & improve, lead & communicate, collaborate & partner, build capability for all, manage a quality service and deliver at pace.

What the good candidates did well: Gave their briefing a clear structure. Included consideration of risks. Included details of their plan, not just a general outline. Kept calm when asked some really tricky follow up questions from the manager.


What it is: one to one competency based interview

The interview is designed to test whether the candidates can manage a quality service, deliver at pace, collaborate and partner and build capability for all.

What the good candidates did well: Answered using the STAR format (giving details of the Situation, Task, Action and Result). Focused their answer on what they did in each situation. Gave a range of examples from all areas of their life: study, work, personal interests. Didn’t assume the assessor had read their application form (they hadn’t!)

Policy Recommendation exercise

What it is: the candidates had to analyse a file of papers and decide which of two solutions to an issue to recommend to ministers.

The exercise is designed to test whether the candidates can see the bigger picture, change and improve, make effective decisions, lead and communicate, deliver value for money and achieve commercial outcomes.

What the good candidates did well: Thoroughly reviewed all the evidence presented (including the stats!). Recognise the merits of each path of action. Made decisions based on the evidence presented on the day rather than their personal experience.

Awards Season and Diversity

Hollywood sign by Florian Klauer - public domain

Awards season is upon us with all its glitz and glamour.

But amongst the sequins, plunging necklines and star studded selfies, has emerged a more serious issue; that of the lack of diversity in British filmmaking.

In an article for the Independent, Chris Bryant, shadow minister for the arts described the almost complete absence of black actors and directors at the top of the industry as an ‘insulting throwback to a bygone era’.

Worryingly, according to the Taking Part survey, there is a 10% gap between white, and black and ethnic minority participation in the arts , which shows an under-representation in this industry more widely.

Does this impact you as students or recent graduates looking to break into the creative fields?

Be sure to take a look at our events calendar available via the Reach website as we often advertise schemes, internships and events that can help you with your initial steps.


Space: It’s open for business.

Think Space. You thought of rockets launching amidst explosions and astronauts floating about in zero gravity right? Now, scrap that and let’s start again, because the Space industry is so much more than that and has a lot to offer to students and graduates.

Room to grow

According to the UK government’s Space Growth Action plan (2013 – 2030), the UK Space industry will grow to have a £19 billion turnover by 2020. Year on year, the industry grows by 9% and it is estimated that up to 100,000 skilled jobs will be developed by 2030. It’s hoped that by 2030 the UK will hold 10% of the global space economy.

This sounds promising, but what does the industry look like and what type of career paths might be available to graduates to be?

Space calling Earth: applications of Space technology on Earth

Traditionally, the industry is split in two main sector categories: upstream and downstream. The upstream sector is about the building and launching of satellites and sensors to space whereas the downstream sector is all about the applications and services using the data generated by the upstream activities. The growth of the industry and an increase in the application of space technology to everyday life (e.g. knowing when your next over ground train is going to arrive) means that there has been an ever-growing number of businesses (global and local, small and large) that are now catering for these needs.

Again, in the Space Growth Action plan, it’s reported that some of the fastest growing markets are:

Security & Safety

  • disaster & emergency response
  • secure satellite communications (e.g. miliatry; remote locations)
  • maritime (e.g. pollution monitoring; illegal fishing)
  • geospatial services
  • space weather

Game changing services

  • low-cost access to space
  • space planes & tourism

Climate & environmental services

  • agriculture and food security (e.g. crop monitoring)
  • weather forecasting
  • environmental services (e.g. monitoring deforestation; monitoring climate change)

Public Sector

  • transport management
  • smart cities (using data to change the way cities operate, can affect decisions on urban planning)
  • energy infrastructure


  • satellite broadband (for remote areas; broadband to ships and aircraft)
  • location based services (gaming)
Mapping forest structure from space

Mapping forest structure from space

Mapping forest structure from space: taken from European Space Agency


With the growth of downstream services, which are more user focused, there are sub-sectors such as a Support Services. In this sub-sector you can find roles involving: data interpretation; sensor calibration; development of products using software and algorithms, data interpretation and visualisation. Finally, some more specialist sectors include space insurance; space journalism and space law.

Getting a job in the Space industry

I recently visited the 2nd Space Industry Careers Fair where I’ve seen presentations from 11 industry leaders. Some of the skills they mentioned and are looking for in a recent graduate include:

  • sales skills
  • bid writing
  • data analytics/science
  • problem solving
  • innovation
  • collaborative spirit
  • flexibility
  • Mathematical/logical skills
  • software skills (Java, C++, IDL (Interactive Data Language))

Where to look

Sector information

UKSpace –



UK Space Agency –

Catapult –

G-Step –



SpaceJobs –

SpaceCareers –

Space Job Centre –

European Space Agency, Graduate Trainee programme –


Contributed by Melanie Christou, Internships Coordinator for Science at Queen Mary University of London.

Get into Teaching

Teach by Flickr user liquidnight used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Do you know your Premier Plus, GTTR, SCITT and QTS? Those who do, teach. With so many changes to graduate routes into teaching, it can be difficult to know which route is best for you, what other options exist and what support you may get. Thankfully there is support even before you begin to apply.

On 7 March 2015 there is a teaching road show taking place in QEII Conference Centre. The event, run by the Teaching Agency, will give you an insight into the different types of teachers, the qualification routes and how to apply. According to the event website, you will benefit by:

  • speaking to our teaching experts at the National College for Teaching and Leadership stand; they can give you one-to-one advice on your training options
  • attending our application form clinic for personalised advice from one of our experts; ensure you register for a time slot when you arrive
  • meeting initial teacher training (ITT) providers from your region, who can tell you about the courses they offer and their entry requirements
  • meeting School Direct schools within your region, who can tell you more about the places they have on the School Direct Training Programme
  • meeting with professional associations to hear how they support subject teaching in schools and to get more information about the scholarships on offer
  • talking to current teachers in the ‘Meet the Teachers’ area

This is a great opportunity to explore what is an exciting career path for many graduates . One route,  Teach First, is now the UK’s largest graduate employer. There is also the new Premier Plus route for students expecting a 2:2 or higher and interested in teaching secondary maths, physics, chemistry, languages, computing or design and technology. And there are still some generous bursaries out there:

  • Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Computing – up to £25,000
  • Biology – up to £15,000
  • Modern Languages – up to £25,000
  • Geography, Design and Technology, Primary Maths Specialist – up to £12,000
  • Other priority subjects – up to £9,000

Experience is important when applying for teaching qualifications. It can be hard to get because of the CRB checks required by schools but you should make use of the work experience programmes available through the Teaching Agency.

For more information about careers in teaching visit Careers Tagged.

Teach by Flickr user liquidnight used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Reviewing visas for International students…..

This week I was fortunate enough to go to the Houses of Parliament, to attend the launch of a government report on international student post study work opportunities.  The Shadow Immigration Minister, UUK, the British Chambers of Commerce, Labour MP Paul Blomfield and Conservative MP Richard Bacon spoke at the launch, backing the findings of the report.

The report argued for a need to review the current visa routes for international students once they graduate.  It stated that the current system (since post study work was abolished) is damaging the reputation of the UK, reducing the numbers of international students studying here and failing to allow enough international students to stay on and work after graduation.

The report recommended a new visa route, whereby students would be able to stay in the UK for a year after graduation to build their skills and experience, in order to be stronger competitors for jobs which would sponsor them under the Tier 2 licence after the 12 months are up.  It also recommended a review of the Graduate Entrepreneur route, the Doctoral Extension and the Tier 5 temporary worker.

Read more here in the Times Higher Education article 

Contributed by Abi Sharma of the International Futures group.