Before I started my internship with Contraband, I had zero knowledge of the corporate entertainment industry. My background up until that point was almost completely irrelevant and so was my work experience. Because of this, I felt anxious and nervous about working there, but the opportunity was too invaluable. Add into the mix that I’m disaster prone when it comes to punctuality, and you have a mindset which is not ideal. Within the first week, however, all of my fears were swiftly replaced with excitement. I was warmly welcomed by the wonderful (and tolerant) Contraband team and made to feel at home instantly. Instead of being given boring work with no quantifiable impact, I was treated the same as any of the team members and assigned a fairly important project. From the professional experiences I’ve had up until now, I can say that this is probably the most important thing about an internship – being made to feel like you really are contributing ;closely after this is working in an environment which fosters a productive yet comfortable atmosphere. This is where the ethos and management of contraband must be commended and deservedly praised. What I loved most about the office was that the culture was so relaxed yet simultaneously professional; every team member was trusted to perform and left to their devices (the open plan office really helps as well!). The absence of standard formal corporate management/human resource management practices is intentionally there and seemingly one of the key elements of having such a successful and close-knit tea
Now, to move on to a little bit about my work at Contraband – I was given a long term project at the start of my internship, which was intended to last the entire duration of my stay. Apart from occasional discussions and meetings, I was left to proceed with the project as I saw fit. Note to any interns reading this: use this as a chance to bring something different to the table and if you’re like me and have no experience in the industry, don’t see it as a negative/disadvantage, but rather an opportunity to repay the faith being shown in you! Remember, your employer can only do so much to help you – what you get out of an internship is dependent on the effort you put in. That’s another wonderful thing about Contraband – perspective is appreciated and welcomed. Back to my work – the big project dealt with the expansion of the business. Effectively, I was helping create a completely new section. The great thing about this project was that it gave me a chance to experience several different aspects of the business and industry. Importantly, it was enjoyable. It was the little bits of encouragement and positive reinforcement I regularly received which gave me confidence. Throughout the process, I was given invaluable feedback and constructive criticism. Another note to interns: be sure to appreciate this kind of environment, it’s not often that you come across such a fantastic boss, let alone such a wonderful team!
I was fortunate enough to be so quickly trusted by the entire team, which was important because it created more experiences for me. There were several smaller projects interspersed throughout my internship. They ranged from learning about a completely new element of business (search engine optimisation) to experiencing dealing with clients directly (sales) to creative (putting together bespoke packages) to even a bit of legal work! Keep in mind that this was all within a three and a half month span – the team at Contraband really does everything possible to ensure you learn as much as possible regardless of the time you spend with them.
Lastly, I’d like to share a little bit about the social side of working for contraband. One of the coolest perks of the job was being invited to several events – from exhibitions to venue openings to the prestigious Event Magazine Awards. This was one of my fondest memories of my time at Contraband as it gave me a chance to interact with the entire team outside of work and see a slightly less formal side to everyone. By this point, I had only been with Contraband for a month, but when we won an award on the night, I felt as proud as anyone else on the team – that’s a testament to how included everyone made me feel. All the mini celebratory events in the office (birthdays, anniversaries, etc) and occasional attendance of work related events culminated in the annual christmas dinner, which happened to coincide with my last day. This was yet another wonderful experience with the Contraband team. One of the more interesting things I noticed about all these outings was that with everyone on the team, it’s ‘what you see is what you get’ – apart from being a little more adventurous outside the office, everyone was exactly the same. It might just be me, but this provided an oddly calming feeling and helped me relax and open up a bit more.
All in all, my time at Contraband will be looked back on with great fondness; I’m still in touch with the team. A word to my fellow interns, both current and to-be: if you’ve landed yourself a position with Contraband, count yourself as extremely privileged and make the most of it!