What is your background?
Fine Art degree and then work experience in top UK auction houses and temping for media companies. PA and administration work.
What initially attracted you to your job?
The reputation of the company and the variety involved in the job specification.
Define your job?
I look after international students who are studying in the UK for one year. My job entails handling students who are far away from home and who may not speak English perfectly, although most of the students are from the USA. Good people skills are essential in this role. I organise European excursions to art fairs, academic board meetings and other meetings, excel examiner’s spreadsheets, the student induction week, transcripts, events etc etc
Can you walk me through your day to day activities?
A typical day would involve making sure that the programme runs smoothly. In term time this means assisting lecturers with the set up of the lecture theatre and PP presentations, ensuring that the timetable is correct so that students know where they should be. Sometimes I can sit in on lectures as well which is a good perk to the job. In the afternoon the students have seminars and so again it is making sure these run smoothly. I answer at least 20 questions from students on average per day- both enrolled students and students who are interested in applying for the programme. This can be anything from where are the local sectors surgeries to academic issues. I organise a meeting on average once a week which could be a small departmental meeting where we discuss what is coming up in the timetable and plan for future events, or it could be a large meeting whereby lecturers and consultants come in to discuss the programme and we make improvements to the course.
How has your job changed in the last 5 to 10 years?
I have only been in this role 3 years
What are the key issues facing your sector?
The weak dollar. On the plus side, a booming arts market worldwide.
How does government legislation affect your job?
We are a private company so it doesn’t.
What impact has technology had on your job?
Minimal impact since I have been here. Nearly all lectures are Power Point lectures where as in years gone by slides and notice boards would have been used.
What are the best things and worst things about your job?
The best things are the travel opportunities. We take students to art fairs in Europe and we go to other exhibitions in the UK. Also the fact that it has led to me having friends all over the world. The ability to have my ideas listened to and implemented. It’s a creative and intellectually stimulating environment in which to work.
The worst thing is the pay and the office politics.
What attributes do you need/ what are you looking for when hiring someone in your role?
People skills, charisma, tolerance and an open mind. We deal with a range of students from all over the world and students must be made to feel like they can approach you, however busy you might be in the office. A passionate interest in the art world is also key. The salary is low and so it is important to have an interest in the field to compensate for this fact, and take advantage of the perks of the job as a substitute for a high salary.
What are your tips/ advice for those starting out?
Go to Private Views/Exhibitions/ Art Fairs. You must self educate yourself about the art world on a regular basis as it changes so quickly. I would recommend taking a BA in an arts subject as well as interning for an auction house or a private gallery.
What are your three favourite websites?
Face Book – students love it!