News Story

Hi Jess! Thanks for telling us about your time working here. Firstly, how did you find out about Edinburgh International Festival and the traineeship?

Being an Edinburgh local, I was already very aware of the various Edinburgh festivals, including the Edinburgh International Festival. When I was younger I had flute lessons through my school, and my teacher signed me up for the Young Music Pass which is an International Festival music initiative offering free tickets to see classical music in the Festival’s programme, this was my first experience of the Festival. I found out about the traineeship shortly after I graduated from dance college as I was looking for work on the Creative Edinburgh website, which is where I saw the opportunity advertised.

What attracted you to the traineeship?

When I graduated from university, I did not feel ready for the professional world. Most of my training was completed online and I think having a more limited experience meant my confidence took a hit. I was really looking for an opportunity to work professionally but in an environment where there wouldn’t be an expectation that I knew what I was doing. I felt like I still had a lot of learning and development to do before I felt ready to take on something with more responsibility. The traineeship was the perfect opportunity for me, because I have always had an interest in creative engagement, and this role allowed me to work within that sector while also learning how the sector works.

A group of 20 young people stand on stage smiling in a group photo. Their backs are facing the empty auditorium.

Jess with the Alvin Ailey Youth Ensemble and Director Ronni Favours

What were you expecting before you joined?

I tried to go in without too many expectations. The only role I had previously which was related to this role was assisting in dance classes, which felt quite different to the job description for this role. I was hopeful that the traineeship would give me the opportunity to work across art forms, and that I would have the opportunity to learn and develop enough to feel confident in working professionally when I had completed my contract.

And how was it different?

I could not have predicted that my traineeship would become the amazing experience that it has been for me. I didn’t expect that I would have the opportunity to work so closely with world-renowned artists, or that I would have the opportunity to go on secondment to some fantastic organisations, or that I would have the opportunity to travel both locally and internationally for work!

What did you enjoy most?

I think I have to give two answers for this as I can’t pick a favourite! Firstly I really enjoyed having the opportunity to go on secondment to Capital Theatres, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Ballet. Experiencing new organisations and new projects was a great learning experience and really boosted my confidence as I was very nervous about going to new places.

Secondly, working with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was a real highlight for me. As a dancer, having the opportunity to work with their Rehearsal Director Ronni Favors to create a fantastic opportunity for young Scottish dancers was incredible. I made memories for life working on this project and I am still in touch with everyone who was involved.

A group of 8 people stand on a sandy beach smiling. The sky is a soft blue behind. They have their arms around each other

Jess with the Scottish Ballet Engagement Team in Stornoway

Did anything unexpected or unusual happen?

Having the opportunity to travel was very unexpected for me. I had the opportunity to travel to The Hague in January to see ‘The Rite Of Spring’ before it came to the Festival in 2023, which was very exciting for me as I hadn’t travelled internationally since I was very young. I also had the opportunity to fly up to Lewis and Harris with Scottish Ballet to assist in delivering their engagement work in June. I had never been to any of the Scottish islands before so this was really exciting, and getting to assist in delivering work in a new place was a really fun experience.

How would you describe Edinburgh and the Festival to someone who hasn’t been before?

Edinburgh is my favourite place in the world (though I’m from here so I would say that). Despite the fact it gets very busy during the festival period, it is such a wonderful place to be. People come from all over the world to celebrate the arts, share their passions and their cultures, and to create new and exciting work. There really is something for everyone in the Festival. I feel very lucky to be in a city where there is so much access to the arts and creativity.

What lessons learnt can you share? Is there anything you’d do differently if you did it again?

I think the most important lesson I learnt was to take every opportunity. Sometimes I was asked to work on things which took me out of my comfort zone, which made me very nervous, but I went for it anyway and I ended up having some of the best experiences. Also I learnt that it’s important to create opportunities for myself, I enjoy looking for opportunities outside of my role to be involved in the arts, currently I am a member of the SCO and RSNO’s Youth Assembly which is a great way to connect with others.

What advice would you give to someone applying for a similar opportunity?

I would advise them to be honest in their application. Your past professional experiences are valuable, but it’s important that you show your personality and passion, that is what will make you stand out against other candidates. The arts is such a competitive industry, so when an opportunity presents itself, grab it.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like share about your experience working at Edinburgh International Festival?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the Edinburgh International Festival, and fortunately my time with the Festival has not come to an end, as I have recently started in a new role as the Audiences Assistant. I have had a fantastic time working with the Learning and Engagement team, and I am looking forward to working on new projects as we get ready for Festival 2024!

This traineeship was supported by our Learning and Engagement Partner, Baillie Gifford Investment Managers