So, I have good news: I got an internship at The Reader Organisation (TRO)! Well, I’ve been there for 2 weeks now but I’m still incredibly excited to be part of an amazing and inspiring organisation. TRO is a charitable social enterprise working to connect people with great literature through shared reading. Their mission is to build a Reading Revolution where they envisage a world where everyone has access to literature that can enable great discussion and personal responses. To me, reading has always been important. It’s a way to relax and escape, but also reading has always been an amazing topic of conversation. Have you ever been reading the same book as your friend and then had that great discussion about it afterwards when you’ve finished, the one where it leaves you thinking about the possibilities of the book and what it all meant? Well, that’s the type of feeling TRO creates in a shared reading environment and I’ve had the chance to see the shared reading groups first-hand (but I’ll talk more about that later).
I first heard about TRO from Sophie Povey, (the ‘Reader Places’ manager at the organisation) when she came into PC World to buy an iPad about nearly 2 years ago. Fascinated by what TRO did, I looked them up but was unlucky, as there were no intern vacancies available. However, as Sophie had said, I kept checking back to the page in case the chance to apply came about. About 4 weeks ago, I was having one of those days where you just apply for jobs; like where you write about a dozen cover letters and fill out numerous application forms until you’re bored of talking about yourself. Something told me to check TRO’s website, so I went into my ‘Favourites’, selected the reader and was lucky enough to find an application for the Communications and Development internship and I had just under a week to fill out and perfect the form.
After I had my interview, I wasn’t completely sure if I’d been successful. Unlike other interviews I’d had recently, I relaxed, took my time and thought about my answers and most importantly I was completely myself.
The following day I had a phone call before it was time to head out on the shop floor at Currys (I have now moved to a Currys store) from the Literary Learning Manager Casi who told me I had been unsuccessful in getting the Communications and Development internship as they has a stronger candidate. However, Casi quickly raised my spirits by offering me a new position as Market Research Intern on the Literary Learning team because she believed I had a good eye for detail and of course I accepted. I cut my hours at Currys to just weekends and started at TRO the following Monday 🙂
I was greeted by Michelle (People and Support Administrator) who showed me around, introduced me to everyone, and gave me my induction programme for the following 2 weeks. I had lunch with everyone which is a Monday tradition where everyone brings something to eat and everyone has lunchtime to catch up with each other,which I thought was lovely idea. I was scheduled for several meetings throughout the week with other members of staff which was good because I could then figure out who everyone was and what their roles were within the organisation. I also needed to get to grips with my own role and what Casi expected from me.
- to research individual courses that are coming up and to find how that theme for that course can appeal to a particular market.
- to review commissioned courses since 2008
- to monitor the evaluation of courses
Over the two weeks I attended several shared reading groups. The first was at Toxteth Library, where I joined a really friendly reading group. A lot of the groups are with people who don’t necessarily read at home and enjoy reading in a group. The facilitator began the story aloud and as it began to unravel, more and more discussion surrounding the story developed and a couple of the group read aloud (I even had a go!). When I left, I felt really good. It was such a great way to read. English at university had been reading and discussing but not like this. Here participants take the take the text at face value; tell you how it makes them feel, if it feels like something that has happened in their lives or if they’ve read something like that before. It’s all about those personal responses to reading aloud. I went to another group on the Thursday of all women, who crochet for fifteen minutes with a cup of tea before reading (they’re reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro at the moment). I went to another reading group for children under five which was so much fun. I had the opportunity to make boogie puppets and sing ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ all before lunchtime. I then went to another group of just two men who were making me laugh for the full hour as they related the story to their own personal ghost stories at home. The reading groups have been a great opportunity to see the work of TRO directly and it’s such a good feeling to come out of the reading group feeling like there has been a great enjoyment of the literature involved.
I’m really looking forward to my next few months at TRO. I’ve already had a great two weeks there, everyone is lovely and welcoming. It’s a job I’ve never had to do before which is challenging, but a good challenge. A challenge that I can learn from and realise my potential.