Three people smiling for a selfie.
From left to right: MJ, our outgoing trainee, Sarah, a previous trainee, and Harry, Programme Co-ordinator all attending No Limits Festival in Berlin.

Five things my year at Unlimited taught me

Last week, we said a sad and virtual goodbye to MJ, one of our outgoing trainees. Before she left, she compiled this list of lessons learnt throughout the year she spent working with us. If you’re interested in applying to be one of our new trainees, don’t miss out on MJ’s insight!

When I interviewed for the role of Unlimited trainee at Shape, I asked the team ‘what does a typical day at Unlimited look like?’ and they told me there was no such thing as a typical day at Unlimited. I think that’s the best way to describe how my traineeship has been, no two days were the same. I’ve learned so much this past year, too much to be condensed into a single blog, but I’m going to try and give you the top five things my year at Unlimited taught me.

  1. Confidence

Working with Unlimited allowed me to see my own strengths. Within the first three weeks of being on the team, I was asked to speak on a panel for Unlimited Connects. At first, I second guessed myself; I was in a new role and I wasn’t as experienced as the other people at the panel. But after I spoke on the panel, I realised my lived experiences were just as valid as others’ and what I had to say mattered. I grew more confident in voicing my opinion and knowing that it could hold just as much weight as anyone else’s in a room of important people.

  1. Access

When I first joined Unlimited, I was asked what access requirements I had and honestly, I didn’t really know. They let me know that there are systems in place like Access to Work which make working with a disability easier. Helping to produce events like our access rider workshop allowed me to see how other disabled people advocated for their access needs. Being given the space to think about what accommodations would make me more comfortable allowed me to start asking for them at work and in my personal life.

  1. Rest is integral

Late last year I went to a festival in Berlin called No Limits. The festival had a symposium that explored the concept of crip spacetime. The symposium was in a relaxed venue with the option to lie down during the panel discussions. It was different for me to see rest prioritised outside of my own bedroom. I felt too shy at first to even lie down but the thought of my back on those rigid plastic chairs made any fear I had evaporate. I think it really helped to be in a room surrounded by disabled people, it felt like I didn’t have to pretend to be comfortable anymore.

  1. What happens behind the scenes

One of the most invaluable experiences I had working at Unlimited was taking part in a selection panel for our micro awards. It felt like someone was allowing me to peak behind the curtain and see how the machine of Unlimited worked. It was exciting to see what was taken into consideration in applications and how close to the wire it can be between two artists. These experiences have helped me see that it’s not as daunting as it seems to apply for funding for my ideas.

  1. What working in the arts could be like

Unlimited taught me what it should be like to work in the arts, in a space where inclusion is front and centre in the work they do and a part of their core values. Where you can talk to anyone on the team, from the top of the organization to the bottom, and where your contributions are seen and valued. If you’re reading this and thinking about applying to Unlimited for the traineeship, I say: just do it!

When I first started this traineeship I had no idea how much I’d learn and experience. If you’re thinking about a career in the arts and you want to be a part of a team that offers you genuine support and the opportunity to grow, then you should definitely apply. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to be part of the Unlimited team and I’m excited to see what the future holds!

We are currently recruiting for two new Unlimited trainees. If you enjoyed MJ’s reflection on her time with us, why not apply now?