Cameron Meldrum, Arts Coordinator for Arts at University of Southampton, looks back on his journey through university, and explains how he ended up where he is today – almost by chance!
If you’d told me five years ago that I would be working as part of the University’s arts team I’d have called you mad! I came to Southampton to study Politics and International Relations in 2013 and at the beginning I thought my path would be relatively straightforward. Go to uni, study politics, get a career in something politics-y, and go from there. Years later, it hasn’t turned out to be anything like that in the slightest.
In my second year I ended up getting heavily involved in the student-run radio station, Surge. This opportunity was completely on a whim – I just thought to myself ‘why not? I might as-well give it a go!’. As the year progressed, there were times where I effectively lived in the studio! The following year I joined the committee and got involved in the student union’s other media departments in such a way that it meant I was spending about 75% doing Surge, and about 25% of it actually doing my degree. I did leave University with a high 2:1 though, so for those of you worrying that extra-curricular stuff ruins your degree, it wasn’t the case for me!
In my final year I took another stab in the dark and ran in the Union spring elections for the position of Vice-President Democracy and Creative Industries; a full-time paid Sabbatical role that lasted one year. I absolutely loved my time as a VP, supporting and promoting the Union’s media and performing arts societies (and for some reason also leading on the democratic processes – something I never quite fully understood) and I took a lot away from it. It was through my role as ‘VP DCI’ I got my first experience working with the team at Arts at University of Southampton. When my term at the Union ended, I was offered the chance to intern with the Arts team and I leapt at the chance!
My role at Arts at University of Southampton mainly involved communications and marketing: working on social media, newsletters and general promotion to make sure we’re always improving on how we get the word out to everyone. I also work on a variety of projects such as our coming soon ‘How-to Guide’ for Performing Arts societies or anyone interested in putting on a performance event and launching our new voluntary pilot scheme Arts Ambassadors scheme (which, by the way, you should definitely apply for!).
I’ve learnt so much through the extra-curricular things I did at University, so much so that I think it’s what I did outside of my degree that will end up setting me on my career path: Surge gave me good communication skills and was a great confidence booster; my sabbatical role further cemented these and allowed me to expand on them. My time at Arts at UoS has tested and pushed me to improve my writing and organisational skills and has equipped me with the tools I need to see me into the future.
I think it’s important to point out that I did all this whilst studying for a Bachelors in Social Science and not a typical arts degree. I could say that not studying for an arts degree has almost been beneficial, as I’ve been able to use my perspective to try and open up Arts at University of Southampton to people who wouldn’t typically see themselves as ‘interested in arts’. Hopefully my journey shows that arts really is for everyone, because it is something I truly believe in.
I’m immensely proud to work with such a fun, inviting, and creative bunch of people and I am hugely grateful for all I have been able to take away from my experience here.
If you’re a University of Southampton student inspired by Cameron’s journey and interested in getting experience in the arts, check out our Arts Ambassadors scheme.