Vaiva: my placement year at the Leeds International Piano Competition

Hey there, I’m Vaiva, Philosophy, Politics and Economics student currently doing a year in industry. This year I have been on an exciting journey of working at The Leeds International Piano Competition as Campaigns Coordinator. To save you the trouble of trying to google what that title means and what responsibilities it encompasses I’m going to tell you everything starting from the beginning.

I knew I wanted to do a year in industry before the start of my studies here at Leeds University. I had a couple of family friends who studied in the UK and later joined various organisations and companies ranging from non-profits to finance industries, yet every single one of them said that they noticed a difference of working together with people who have previously taken on a placement year and those who haven’t. They said that people who took a year in industry were more structured, experienced, and had the relative skills needed for their graduate role. My main motivation doing a year in industry was to discover myself and have the opportunity to try out a field I was interested in working as a graduate. And since I’m studying PPE and my career options are quite wide it sometimes can be difficult to navigate and make a choice as to where I would like to end up working in the future. One very important criterion for me was to have aligning values with the organisation. My moral and social beliefs are what defines me as a person thus I couldn’t imagine myself working for something I didn’t agree with. I think that was a huge reason why I mainly applied for charities and non-profit organisations.

Although I know this can be considered late by others, I started applying for my placement around January/February of my second year. Because COVID-19 had just hit at that time, a lot of companies I was interested in weren’t sure anymore if they needed interns and the application process was quite stagnant. There were many applications I never heard back only to found out months after anticipation that the internships were cancelled due to the pandemic. At some point in the process of sending out applications, I was about to give up and simply continue with my third year of studies. It can be quite demotivating to hear so many no’s and put your energy into something that’s not giving you a return. But my advice is, not to give up and keep pushing yourself to apply! I heard from my current placement at the start of August and it’s been an incredible experience to work together with such a creative team.

My role is Project management and administrative support of The Leeds fundraising strategy, including management of memberships, programmes, and production of fundraising events. Just some of my tasks include: Helping to identify potential patrons and new corporate supporters; Managing a portfolio of supporting members and building relationships with individual donors; Contributing to the creation of promotional materials and digital communications to support fundraising campaigns. When I was accepted for this position, everyone still thought that we could do in-person events and organise projects on the ground. However, as the year went on and the UK stepped into second and third lockdowns, we continued to work from home. Although of course, I would have loved to experience what it’s like to work in the office together with the rest of the team, I think the pandemic also brought some positives into the role. As an organisation, The Leeds was compelled to explore a different income stream and find possible solutions on how to continue raising money without having a physical audience. We had the opportunity to experiment with creating various projects, adapting and pushing our boundaries to the fullest. We held online events, cultivated incredible partnerships with other charities and organisations as well as developed our digital platforms at rapid speed. I feel so much gratitude for all the things I learned in the organisation and continue to learn daily. Wish everyone the best of luck in their process of applying!

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Vaiva Paulauskaite
Hi everyone! I’m Vaiva and I’m from Lithuania. I’m currently doing a placement year, between my second and third year, at Leeds International Piano Competition working as a Campaigns Coordinator....
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