Charlotte Yuen is an English Literature and Music graduate. She describes her work with the National Dance Company Wales and her current role with Askonas Holt, a leading arts management agency.
Almost immediately after graduating, I got a temporary position with Cardiff
University's public relations and communications department and worked with the web team on revamping the university's website. It taught me some useful skills, particularly how to use a CMS and very basic html; these skills have come in handy in my subsequent jobs.
I only spent four weeks with the web team as I was lucky enough to get a position with the National Dance Company Wales (formerly Diversions) in that time.
At NDCW, I was Executive Assistant. I was actually very close to not applying for it as the job description implied that it was not for a fresh graduate. I did not even tick all the boxes under 'essential skills and experience'! However, I am interested in dance (I started ballet lessons aged 4.5 and only stopped when I went to university) and thought I had nothing to lose. It just goes to show that it cannot hurt to try. (My former lecturers will probably tell you that I am not one to admit defeat easily!)
NDCW was a great company to work for, but after a while, I realised that I wanted to go back to a musical environment, so I started looking at and applying for jobs again, this time concentrating on London. I wanted to stay in Cardiff when I left university because a lot of my friends were there, I knew the city and it was cheaper to live there than to move immediately. For music, however, London really is the epicentre. There is also more competition for good jobs; I think it took me 6-7 months to land one, but when I did, I knew it was the right one. So, after 18 months at NDCW and 4.5 years in Cardiff, I moved to London to join Askonas Holt, a leading artist management agency. I've been here for nearly three years.
My jobs both involve going to performances, which I enjoy doing immensely. It is always a privilege to see artists at work, and sometimes I feel spoilt that I get to see world-class performances and get to know the people behind the artistry.
The job also involves quite a lot of travelling and few things are as exciting and heartwarming as witnessing a young artist's debut at the Vienna Musikverein, playing the Brahms concerto of all things
More specifically, at NDCW, the highlights were definitely being part of the company's 25th anniversary celebration. At AH, I started taking on more artist management responsibilities around 15 months ago so I would consider every achievement in furthering an artist's career a highlight.
The job also involves quite a lot of travelling and few things are as exciting and heartwarming as witnessing a young artist's debut at the Vienna Musikverein, playing the Brahms concerto of all things! It sounds cheesy, but it is immensely uplifting to share in an artist's happiness after a successful performance. These can sometimes take on a pseudo-religious dimension; the first ever performance of Schubert's String Quintet at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms comes to mind.
One of the best things about the School of Music is that there are always
opportunities. I really wanted to perform a piano concerto before leaving
university, and when I decided to put on a charity concert to make that
possible, I received a lot of support and encouragement, be it from students (a lot of whom were and still are good friends), the teaching and support staff (the porters and librarians were life-savers!) and, of course, my piano teacher Chris Williams. This was admittedly a very mad thing to do in one's final year, but the opportunity was there and I would have kicked myself very hard had I not done it.
It probably comes as no surprise to hear that I was a Lunchtime Concert
Co-ordinator in my second year. It certainly kept me busy but it also
allowed me to get to know a lot of the students better.
Academically, the highlight has to be the process of researching and
writing my dissertation. It was very satisfying and illuminating to really
delve into a topic I wanted to know more about. The amount of knowledge
within the School is incredible, and it was wonderful to be able to explore
my chosen topic with the teaching staff, particularly my dissertation tutor
Professor John Tyrrell. I am proud of what I achieved, but in a way, I also wish the word limit was not 10,000...
University is what a student makes of it. If a student likes what he / she reads in the prospectus and forms a positive impression from a visit (on an open day or otherwise), then by all means, apply! I am slightly old-fashioned in that I think one's time at university should primarily be about education, so the academic side of things should take precedence, and the School is a place which recognises and rewards hard work. It is also when you completely immerse yourself in the environment that you can discover what opportunities there are.
Describe the School in three words?
Friendly, knowledgeable, busy!