Interning at the Buxton International Festival

Our book intern, Shakshi Singh shares her experience of working with the Buxton International Festival team and outlines her top tips for succeeding as a festival intern.

I distinctly remember the day I received a call from Lucie De Lacy, the outreach officer at the Buxton International Festival, informing me that I had not been selected for the position I interviewed for. I was about to have the saddest walk home in my entire life when she told me that they had created a new position for me in the team. I was now a ‘Book Intern’ for the Buxton International Festival. For 20-year old literature student, this was a dream job and it turned out to be even more adventurous than I thought it would be. In only a couple of weeks I was introduced to a bandwagon of the brightest and most artistic minds I have ever met. The team at BIF is a collective of individuals who are masters in their fields, each day in the office feels like well-choreographed opera performance where everybody moves in sync with each other. The office has an environment that helped me push my boundaries and be the most productive I could be each day. Moreover, each member graciously offered me their knowledge and skills to help me learn and deliver my work efficiently.

The three must have qualities to be a successful intern at Buxton International Festival, I feel, are the following:

Be hands-on

it is essential for you to be on your feet and be readily available to do any task that you are given. The key is to do all tasks you are given with same rigour be it helping in setting up a promotional bookshop window display or call a hundred schools and invite them to the festival. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how well a team-player you can be.

Working without supervision

You should be capable of working independently. The BIF team is a small and efficient one, which means everyone is pushed for time in order to deliver a stunning festival each year. There will be times when you will have to rely on your judgements as it is not possible for the other members to guide you through every single task.

Be approachable

The Buxton International Festival is deeply embedded in the social life of Buxton. Therefore, throughout your time you will interact with a lot of important people. I was able to overcome my social inhibitions within weeks of working for the festival and to be a successful member of the team you need to be able to interact and converse with all kinds of people.

In the three months of working for BIF, I have inhaled knowledge and ideas like air. Victoria Dawson, the Book Festival Director and my boss, has been a delight to work for. Every week we drive down to the office together talking about everything under the sun and believe me when I say that each conversation can be made into a really entertaining individual podcast. Up until now, I have rolled into closing train doors, mastered the art of spreadsheet making, stolen flowers from a church garden, and devoured the best reads of all my life with her. I actually call her James Bond for her ability to execute mighty tasks with unbelievable panache. This in turn makes me the PA to James Bond which in my opinion is an excellent job title for a twenty-year old.

Working for the Buxton International Festival has been the most rewarding experience of my life and I can confidently say that apart from professional accomplishments, it packs a lifetime of stories I will keep recounting no matter where I go next.

With only a week left for the 40th Buxton International Festival, the office is full of mad energy with art directors walking in and out, posters and props arriving in large numbers. While I my excitement for the festival is growing exponentially by day, I am particularly looking forward to experiencing the Eugene Onegin and The Orphans of Koombu shows. I am also really excited for Alan Powers and Dr Tanya Harrod’s talk on the Bauhaus movement, Peter Moore’s Literary Salon, Kate Devlin’s talk on Science & AI, and the foraging walk by John Wright. I am certain it is going to be another fantastic festival this year and I cannot wait to see you all there!