Diary of a CA intern: Lauren Warner

Q&A with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra intern Lauren Warner

Posted on July 2, 2024

Welcome to Diary of a CA Intern, the series where we dive into the career journeys of the newest talents in the creative industries, placed in internships by Creative Access. We’re delighted to be spending time with Lauren Warner, a marketing and development intern at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO)!

Lauren started her 6-month internship at the symphony orchestra in April this year. After graduating in 2021 with a degree in Psychology, she spent the last few years working as a teaching assistant in schools and volunteering at music organisation Kente Club. At 26-years-old, she said “I can’t do this no more!” and applied for new roles, including RPO’s internship through Creative Access which she is now over halfway through. In our chat, Lauren reflected on her memorable moments so far, how she’s learning to say ‘no’, and how proud her Granddad, who belonged to the Windrush generation, would be of her now. 

CA: Hey Lauren! How would you describe your internship in three words? 

Lauren: Concerts. Challenges. Laughter.

CA: Laughter’s a great one.

Lauren: Everyone in the office is hilarious. There’s a group of young women in the office and we all have that sort of, ‘I’m just a girl moment’ so it’s good vibes. For the longest time, I thought I’d never be able to work in an office.

CA: How has the internship shifted your perspective of working in an office?

Lauren: The flexibility of being able to work from home has opened up so much for my mental health. And I’ve adjusted to the office space culture now. At first I didn’t know what to wear, how many cups of tea I could make in an hour, silly stuff like that. But now I know you just do your job and go home. 

CA: If you could go back to March and say to yourself, ‘Don’t worry. Wear the clothes you want to wear and drink however many cups of tea you want to drink.’ Is that what you’d say to yourself? 

Lauren: I’d say, relax into it. When you are changing environments and you are making a transition like that, you feel very on edge. But relax, because you’ve earned your space. Just take it, don’t overthink it, and enjoy your cups of tea. 

CA: So did you always have your eye on the creative industries while you were working in schools? 

Lauren: I’d been working with a collective called the Kente Club; writing their press releases, helping with creative content and photo shoots. I wanted to segue into something creative, and I saw this opportunity and thought, it’s different but it’s music, marketing, content creation and it’s all the skills that I already sort of do, so why not just try!

CA: Do you think your previous experience is what made you stand out as a candidate?

Lauren: Not to toot my own horn, but I think they liked that I have a lot of experience! I’m a more mature intern at 26. I’ve worked in restaurants, I’ve worked in kitchens, I’ve worked in schools. I’ve also been doing voluntary creative stuff around work for the last four years so I’d used Canva and editing tools before. 

I also did a lot of research on RPO as a brand. I think when you hear ‘classical music’, you might think of stuffy, posh people who don’t really connect with outside society at all, but I researched RPO and saw how much outreach they do, and whether it’s with their education programmes or their music with stroke survivors, they’re actually amazing. 

CA: Hospitality, retail and education gives you so many transferable skills for the creative industries!

Lauren: Exactly.

CA: For those of us who don’t know what a marketing and development intern gets up to day-to-day, what’s a typical day like?

Lauren: Within the marketing team, our main goal is to sell the tickets for concerts. That could mean making promotional content (programmes, flyers, brochures), reaching out to people, video editing, copywriting, proofing and scheduling social media content.

As for development, that’s all to do with fundraising. RPO is a registered charity so we have different schemes and levels of giving to encourage donations. That could look like talking a potential benefactor through the process, their benefits, and how we can incorporate them into the culture of the orchestra. So I work across both teams which is fun. 

CA: How do you find being in a training opportunity across not one, but two teams? 

Lauren: I think it’s amazing, I’m having a chance to learn so much. I was already interested in a marketing career but fundraising and business development is an area I didn’t know much about. I’ve gone from being sure I wanted to do marketing for a charity or NGO I really care about, to thinking that these places obviously have staff and need to be funded somehow, so perhaps I’ll work in fundraising. 

I actually had the opportunity to make a partnership proposal between RPO and a donor and I managed to secure funds, which I’m still sort of processing! I thought, I’m actually doing this job! It felt really good.

CA: Sounds like one of those special moments in an internship where your self-belief grows a little more.

Lauren: Honestly, I went home and said to my Mum, ‘I don’t know how to feel.’ She was asking what was wrong and repeating that I’d done a really good thing, but I thought ‘It doesn’t feel real?’. My brain was really struggling with it and I think it’s because previously in my work, I was often underpaid and underappreciated, just by way of the public sector being the way it is. So when I was sat down and told, “Well done! This thing went through. You did really well. It felt surreal. [she gasps]. But I’m still passionate about education – I tutor English at the weekends and run a classical literature club.

CA: It’s giving: high achiever. Do you think being such a hard worker is why you are where you are?

Lauren: It’s fulfilling, and I have a very hard-working mum and family, period. This internship will open up so many opportunities for me, to say that I’ve worked in this organisation and to have done the things that I have done already in such a short period of time. So that’s just what it needs to be right now. Working hard until I don’t need to work so hard!

CA: Have you come across any challenges or hurdles in your internship so far?

Lauren: Yes. Saying ‘No’. 

I’m trying to cram in as many experiences as I can because I want to soak it all up. I’m also learning to say I don’t have capacity to complete something because I’ve got other things on my to-do list. You know, high achieving kids don’t really like saying, ‘No I can’t do that’. 

I remember that I don’t have to do every single thing that they ask, because they’re not expecting me to, they’ll only ask me if I can because they need it done, not because I have to be the one that gets it done.

You have to learn to sell yourself. Not through an AI-produced CV or cover letter, but through authentically being yourself.

Lauren Warner

CA: What’s your most memorable moment so far?

Lauren: Every concert that RPO has, we get two free tickets, so being able to take my mum to her first ever orchestral show was the cutest thing. She said, ‘I don’t know when to clap!’ And I said, ‘Just follow my lead.’ She got to meet the managing director and it was a wow moment, because it’s not just a dream come true for me, it’s a dream come true for her. 

Nothing that I do is just about me – which is even the nature of working in a team – but me being here is not just about my own personal career development, it’s also about my family who are mad proud, which is a great thing to feel. 

Even my Gran back in Barbados, she says “You’re working where?!”

CA: What does your Gran in Barbados think about your internship?

Lauren: She loves it, but I think because she’s of that generation, if you say ‘royal’ she gasps. But I will not be meeting the King anytime soon. 

CA: On the topic of your family, did you get your love of music from them? How deep does the music gene run? 

Lauren: Funny story! I told this in my RPO interview which may also have been a selling point. 

When I was born, my parents were in that pop-psychology time around the late 90s, and child development was big (praises, fads, that sort of stuff). So my parents used to play me a lot of baby Mozart and baby Beethoven music videos when I was fresh out of the womb, and now that I look back, that was some weird stuff to be playing to a kid! I later asked my mum what she was thinking, and she said they said it’s meant to stimulate parts of the brain… And I sometimes recognise a piece.

CA: Do you ever announce “This was my favourite sonata when I was 2 weeks old”?

Lauren: Yeah I’m like, ‘This is my jam’. [laughs]  We used to listen to them up until I was like three or four, and then it seemed so insignificant, but now I’m here.

CA: You’ve talked about how you made yourself stand out, but have you got tips for others trying to land an internship?

Lauren: I’ve been telling everyone I know that is looking for work to go to Creative Access. I didn’t know that you could get a job like this. It changes people’s lives and I don’t think there’s enough recruitment organisations that are actually moving the needle in the direction that it needs to be moved, but you guys are. 

As for advice for future interns, you have to learn to sell yourself. Not through an AI-produced CV or cover letter, but through authentically being yourself. That means taking your life experiences and making them into something that someone should care about, because we all have a story. Those stories need to relate to a role, even if it’s something as far away as relating working in a kitchen to working in classical music. Working in a kitchen teaches you how to work under pressure and how to have a quick turnaround of orders and checks. Things like that do make you stand out because you’re able to think about how you can use what you’ve learnt in something that is completely different. And if they can see that your mind works like that, they’ll probably think you know what you’re doing.

CA: At Creative Access, we know that everyone has a unique perspective to bring to the table. Have you had any learnings, so far, on how your identity intersects with your creativity and work, now you’re in the industry?

Lauren: My grandparents came here in the 50s in the Windrush generation. My Granddad was working at the railways, and if he was alive and could see me now, and see the leaps that generationally my family have made, just through work – because that’s all it’s really been – it would make him very proud. The thing about being working class is, even though now the postcode I’m working in is very middle-upper, the home that I live in now would be considered middle-upper, I don’t feel middle-upper, because I’ve still got to work my butt off to get where I want to go. 

So as for my place in the world, how I feel like I identify; I’m a working-class girlie living middle-class lifestyle.

But I know where I came from, and I know where the people who helped get me here came from too. 

CA: Thank you so much for sharing that with us, it’s a pleasure to hear your story. Final question, do you have any plans, projects or career hopes on the horizon? 

Lauren: At the moment, I’m still working with the Kente Club so I’m shouting them out. I write poetry as well and my poetry project will be out in October. In Jesus’ name, it will be amazing! I am also helping to develop a series of events with a lovely lady called Cherise under the name shadeINDIGO and we will be supporting up and coming artists who make interesting and unique music.

Stay in touch with Lauren’s career and follow her work on:

LinkedIn: Lauren Warner

Instagram: @chezlaurenn