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Temp Stories: Jyotsna Shelley - Arts Temps as a lifeline to alumni during the pandemic

Arts temp jyots
Arts temp jyots

Written by
Arts Temps
Published date
08 January 2021

Jyotsna Shelley (Jyots) has worked for Arts Temps since she started her Foundation Diploma in 2012. Now that Arts Temps has extended its offer to all alumni, regardless of graduation year, Jyots has been able to take advantage of the service, a particular lifeline in these difficult times.

We spoke to her about how coming back to UAL through working for Arts Temps has helped her during this time and how it has benefitted her career.

Hi Jyotsna, I understand that you’ve worked quite a few jobs in Arts Temps?

Throughout my university experience, I’ve continuously had Arts Temps jobs here and there. I started, think on my second day of Foundation, when I was invited to be a student ambassador for an open day. That first job was great, it was something I could put on my CV that wasn’t just retail experience. I went onto work as a library assistant at London College of Fashion and that was really interesting to get other creative perspectives of different practices and other colleges.

So when I graduated, I knew that I could only work with Arts Temps for a year or two. I worked on a few widening participation events in the Summer. This mainly involved advising GCSE and A-Level students on what Foundation is, how to apply, how to prepare a portfolio, things like that.

So, what have you been doing since graduating?

Since graduating I have worked so many jobs, most significantly I got a job as the Young Artist Programme Coordinator at the Royal Drawing School where I worked with young people – building on the outreach work that I started in Arts Temps.

By the time COVID hit, I was working freelance as an Engagement Coordinator for Create Jobs, A New Direction. I was visiting job centres and gave young people 1-2-1 mentoring sessions about getting into the creative industry. It was great working with disadvantaged young people and prospective students, as it was a challenge to talk about their creative paths. Mostly, they would love to work in the creative industries but didn’t quite know how to go about it. I had been working freelance for about 6 weeks and then we got hit with the whole COVID situation, which like a lot of people, meant that I was out of work for a bit.

Sorry to hear about that, how has it been finding working during the pandemic?

It’s been tough. As I was out of work, I decided to sign myself up to Arts Temps again, as they had just opened up to allow all UAL alumni to apply for jobs. It was actually a bit of a lifeline and a shot in the dark, because I finished UAL in 2017 and thought it was too late for me now, but I’m so glad it’s now opened up!

I got a job through Arts Temps with the Disability Service, supporting a couple of students to help to remove barriers to their study. It’s been absolutely amazing, one is doing a BA and the other is studying a Masters. I have enjoyed taking on the role of ‘supporter’, particularly with issues that have arisen from learning remotely. It’s also added to my skillset at this uncertain time, something that I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to if I’d been working a usual 9 to 5.

One of the students studied at the Royal Drawing School whilst I worked there, on the very course I was managing, so it was almost a full circle moment for me as it’s been nice to have common ground with a student. This time I’m providing support, but we are also learning from each other; he’s on a course using 2D and 3D animation applications that I find really interesting for my own creative practice and strong interest and passion for animation.

It’s great that you could come back and work at Arts Temps again, what is it like being back at UAL?

It was so thrilling to work with UAL again, because it’s such a creative hub that you just want to be a part of - you’re surrounded by so many different creatives and creative ideas. It’s also great to have access to so many different opportunities, with Arts Temps. I find it incredibly exciting and easy because you can gain a lot of skills and have access to the creative industry.

Continuing my relationship with UAL through Arts Temps is also great as it’s a transactional relationship; I feel like I’m developing my skills and I’m taking advantage of everything on offer, in order to become more resilient and better prepared for whatever the industry throws at me.

How has coming back to work at Arts Temps benefitted your career?

As well as giving me the work opportunities, it has also given me the time and security to work on my own practice. I studied Fine Art at Camberwell, focusing on drawing, but now I’m really interested in going into animation. Having this range of opportunities and different experiences has helped me realise what I actually want to do and how I want to fit in to the art world as a creative but also as a supporter – someone who can provide knowledge and assistance to those who need it.

It’s also brought me back into the UAL fold. Shortly after getting the temp job with the Disability Service, I was offered a job in the Partnerships Office at LCF. Working at UAL is amazing because I am able to do my full-time job and balance the Disability Service work around it, to ensure I can still support my students. UAL is a treasure.

That’s great, it sounds like you’re in a much more secure place now?

Yes, the experience has been invaluable, but it’s also been a real lifeline being able to get work at this time. I think it's really needed right now to protect alumni, with reducing opportunities out there it’s really hard in the creative sector. Also, by hiring graduates, employers get high-quality candidates with the wealth knowledge and experience from studying and experiences from years outside of their university too.

I tell everybody I studied with to sign up to Arts Temps, I actually just told my friend who was recently made redundant. She does a lot of video work and I saw an Arts Temps job advert for a video producer; and I was like “just apply for it, it's so simple set up your account and then it is so quick to apply!”

That’s great, I hope she was successful and it’s great to hear you recommending the service to your friends!

You can check out Jyots’ work on her website and make sure to check out all the great opportunities available with the Arts Temps.

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