How to ... make Arts Award work for you

Doing your Arts Award gives you a whole range of experiences and teaches you new skills. You need to make sure that when you are writing your college/university or work application that others can see what you have learnt.

How to ... make Arts Award work for you

Don't just put 'Arts Award Silver' or 'working on my Arts Award Gold' on your CV or application, take some time to think about what you did and what you learnt.

Employers and colleges/university often want the same thing - and if you look at job descriptions they often contain these phrases:

  • working in a team
  • self-motivated
  • responsible/reliable
  • good communicator
  • committed
  • good time management/organisational skills

Many of the things you did and learnt doing your Arts Award are classed as 'transferable skills'. This means you can apply what you did to other situations.

Take a minute to brainstorm everything you did for your Arts Award. Grab a piece of paper or your phone, and write EVERY thing down you did and thought about for each of the sections of your Arts Award.

Now take a minute to think of the skills which sit behind that which might interest an employer/university/college.

Let's say that for your arts practice and pathways on Silver you decided to develop your skills as a photographer.

  • You identified your strengths, weaknesses and aspirations
  • You developed a challenge which would could be assessed
  • You developed and managed your action plan
  • You set targets
  • you monitored & recorded your process
  • you developed your skills
  • reflected and shared work with others

In terms of transferable skills you:

  1. had excellent time management and organisational skill as you did this while you were studying for your GCSEs/A Levels/apprenticeship/part time job etc
  2. created SMART (sustainable, measureable, achievable, realistic and timed) goals
  3. researched what your challenge would be -how did you do this - did you look at professional photographers that you admire, did you visit shows, desk based research (using the internet)
  4. communicated this effectively in your portfolio so that your advisor and the moderator could check the work you were doing
  5. were responsible for your own learning and managing your own project

Can you see all of the really useful skills that you learnt there? - and this is only scratching the surface too! Spend some time with your friends who have done Arts Award with you to really develop this list for all parts of the Arts Award.

The arts leadership section will have many more examples.

Arts Award also gives you great things to talk about in interviews as well, but make sure you think about it in advance!

Some of the things which are often asked in interviews are:

  • can you tell me of a project you have been involved in?
  • what did you learn?
  • what would you do differently next time?
  • what are your strengths and weaknesses?

Think of these questions now and write down the answers.

I have been involved in lots of projects and they often can give you great anecdotes to share with your interviewers. Things go wrong in projects, the important thing is to think about how you solved the problem, what you learnt from it, and what you would do differently next time.

For example in one of my projects we were preparing for a large festival and I asked a teenager to clean the new dance floor I had just put in while I did something else. When I came back there was a huge mountain of bubbles on the floor! He had used half a bottle of washing up liquid and panicked when the bubble kept on growing.

I had assumed his level of knowledge when I had only just met him. If I am working with new people now I always take the time to check that they know how to do the task, as well as understanding what the task is.

Think about what you have learnt about yourself doing Arts Award - I am sure you can easily spot your strengths. But what about your weaknesses? It is important to think about what you can do to counteract your weaknesses too - this shows awareness of yourself and how you are always looking to improve too.

If you take the time to think through all of the different aspects of the Arts Award you will be able to put it to work for you in your CV, job/college/university applications and interviews.

Jen Farrant is an arts manager, writer and Programme Manager Arts Award for Royal Opera House


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