University of Birmingham Internships

Sampad works regularly with the University of Birmingham and has acted as a host organisation for several of the University’s internship and placement schemes.

These include the Cultural Intern scheme, which offers a paid six-month work placement with great opportunities to gain high-quality work experience at leading cultural organisations in the West Midlands.  You can find out more about the adventures of our interns below.

Keep an eye here and on our social media channels for news about future opportunities.

Katy Wade: Cultural Intern 2011-12

Katy Wade working on Sampad’s My Route project

“I started my cultural internship with Sampad, fresh from completing my MA in Heritage Management at the Ironbridge Institute. I applied as Sampad was offering the chance to work on a dance leadership scheme for Moving Earth, a large-scale production which was part of the Cultural Olympiad. I had hoped to gain some experience in outreach and budget management… but what I got was a whole lot more!

Due to my background in history, I was lucky enough to be asked to help write an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new Sampad project called My Route, which explored the migration of residents along Stratford Road in South Birmingham. The development of this application, alongside the running of the leadership scheme, gave me a chance to build up invaluable hands-on experience and acquire a range of relevant, new skills within the arts & heritage sector. Sampad put a lot of trust in me and spent their time helping me to refine and develop my experience – something which is essential for graduates these days, if they want to gain their footing on the employment ladder.

After finishing my internship, I stayed with Sampad to write the second round application for My Route, while assisting with some of their other performances such as Midday MantraMandala and Bollywood 100. After finding out we had successfully secured funding for My Route, I then had the pleasure (and challenge!) of helping to co-ordinate and run the project; one of the highlights in my career so far.

At the moment, I am still delivering heritage projects with Sampad part-time, and I also work as a Community and Learning Engagement Officer in Malvern on my other days. I will be eternally grateful to Sampad for helping me to start my career, and can’t recommend the internship scheme enough. Apply!”

David Richardson: Cultural Intern 2014-15

“I joined Sampad on the Cultural Internship scheme in September 2014, having previously worked with them on a placement as part of the University of Birmingham’s Reaching Out from Higher Education public engagement training. During my internship I was primarily working on the My Route exhibition, specifically the heritage trail which was assigned to me to develop.

The most valuable experience I gained during my internship was learning how to manage and oversee a large project to a specific budget and timeline, and learning how to implement this for the heritage trail project. This involved working with a number of different stakeholders, photographers and designers in order to create a concise and visually engaging document that reflected the post-war history of the Stratford Road in an even geographical spread across Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Hall Green.

Having recently just completed a PhD in contemporary British history, it also gave me the opportunity to undertake historical research into the area, and it was fascinating to apply my experience in this area to the different fields of local and social history. I also used this research to develop a satellite exhibition in Sarehole Mill, showing a visual representation of the changes in trade and industry in the area, and to contribute two chapters to the My Route publication.

After the internship, I stayed on as a Project Officer at Sampad until the end of the My Route exhibition, and one of my highlights was definitely developing the heritage trail into a walking tour, after consultations with Ben Waddington of Still Walking Festival, and a trial run of the walking tour as part of Jane’s Walk. These walking tours ran throughout the festival in June and July 2015. Again, leading these allowed me to develop new skills, along with the experience of project management and event delivery.

I currently work at the University of Warwick as a Community Engagement Officer, working with postgraduate students. This allows me to combine my own experience of being a postgraduate with the skills I developed during the internship at Sampad. It was therefore an ideal role to take on immediately after leaving academia, and extremely beneficial and rewarding.”

Zoe Hawken: Cultural Intern 2015-16

Collider Exhibition Launch Event at the Science Museum, London, where Zoe now works

“It was great to work in such a diverse organisation and learn all about what it takes to go from initial idea to fully fledged project. Working with different people with different approaches to fundraising was a particular highlight for me and has been invaluable in my current role. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of how fundraising works in the cultural sector and my time with Sampad couldn’t have been more perfect, with conversations live with both the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council!

Since my placement at Sampad I have continued to work in charity fundraising and am now a Senior Development Executive at the Science Museum in London. I proactively seek out new funding opportunities as well as managing the relationships with existing partners. It has been fascinating seeing how a national Museum works and it’s been great to be a part of so many exciting galleries and exhibitions!”

Peter Christian: Cultural Intern 2017-18

Peter using data visualisation in The People of Partition in Birmingham exhibition

“I came to Sampad for a work placement while I was studying my BA History degree, part of the History and Culture Professional Skills Module, where students gain real-life work experience over the course of a year. During my placement, I was mainly involved with a project which commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India and aimed to discover its lasting impact on the people of Birmingham today.

One of my first major tasks was to research original photographs from the Library of Birmingham archive. I was pleased when these were chosen to be a major part of the exhibition, which showed me how valued my work was. In this initial part of my placement, the impending launch of the exhibition made the office a hive of activity, with staff and volunteers working hard to meet the many deadlines. This was my first experience of such a fast-paced office environment, where thinking on your feet is a key skill. The busyness was a valuable experience, though I enjoyed the contrast of a quieter period towards the end of my placement when I was able to get creative to design a children’s activity trail for Sampad’s People of Partition in Birmingham exhibition. This helped engage younger audiences with a challenging and traumatic period of history.

Overall, my placement with Sampad gave me an ideal balance of experiences for working in the arts and heritage sector, as well as generally developing my transferable skills. I found my time at Sampad highly rewarding and eye-opening to the multitude of elements there can be to complete creative projects, and I’m proud to have been part of the delivery of an exciting exhibition.”

Shazelle Punjabi: Cultural Intern: 2019-20

“I worked at Sampad for 6 months as a Trainee Producer. This was part of the University of Birmingham Cultural intern scheme. 

As someone who has always had a passion for heritage and the arts, this internship was an amazing experience where I was able to develop my knowledge and skills in a culturally diverse space. I was able to immerse myself in exciting projects which celebrated the diversity of the city I call home. For the longest time, as a South Asian woman I felt like my culture and heritage wasn’t represented in most creative spaces. Joining Sampad showed me the beauty of the culture I come from and how my heritage can be celebrated in innovative and artistic ways. 

One of the main projects I focused on was producing a walking tour along Stratford Road in Sparkhill, which is a culturally diverse part of Birmingham, and one I know very well. It was refreshing to see an organisation put so much time and effort into connecting with local communities in the area and narrating their stories that would have otherwise remained untold. That was a fantastic learning experience for me and enabled me to develop a number of my skills, most prominently my communication skills as I was working with such a wide range of communities. It was also amazing to see how open and welcoming these locals were to the Sampad team, as if no one had ever asked them their story before. 

My experience with Sampad taught me about the need for meaningful diversity, the kind that values and nurtures the voices of those less heard and doesn’t fall into the trap of tokenism. This is something I now try to bring to all my roles. The human-centric approach of Sampad which focuses on celebrating everyone’s stories is crucial in making a difference and bringing about positive change.”

Zarah Alam: Cultural Intern: 2020-21

Zarah Alam

“My internship at Sampad has been so enjoyable and creatively fulfilling, and has provided me with experiences I would not have had otherwise, such as conducting an interview and leading my own social media campaign!  

Even though I was new to the team, all my suggestions and ideas were heard and responded to, I felt like part of the Sampad team straight away! I was surprised and delighted to find that my Sampad 30 for 30 idea was well received and that I would be able to lead it. I was not expecting such leadership opportunities and responsibility but I am so grateful for it, as it allowed me to grow my skill set rapidly and confidence in my abilities. In addition, seeing the project to completion and having a public record of my work is a huge source of pride and achievement, and something I can look back on fondly.

This internship has allowed me to strengthen many vital skills, such as project management, creativity and communication, and thus has enhanced my CV and future career prospects. Before this internship, I struggled to answer certain interview questions, such as ‘tell us about a time you took on a leadership position.’ However, I now have clear examples demonstrating my range of skills. This internship has definitely increased my confidence and feelings of preparedness in entering the job market and approaching employers in the future. I’ve also built up a network of connections who work in the arts industry and learnt from their rich experiences.   

As a South Asian woman, I have not seen myself represented in the arts industry. I’ve previously volunteered in an art gallery but have not seen anyone who looks like myself. So, it was really inspiring to see that both Piali (Ray, Director) and Sabra (Khan, Executive Director) have achieved so much and grown Sampad into a thriving organisation! I also love how Sampad promotes cultural diversity and engages with a range of communities, dancers, writers and so many more, which reflects the diversity of Birmingham and promotes tolerance and understanding between communities.”