Learning through actions: my internship experience - By Tegan Enright

Queensland University of Technology – Bachelor of Creative Industries (Interdisciplinary) After enjoying a unit in visual display within the arts, I was inspired to seek an internship position at an art gallery to expand my knowledge of display and curation. Having experience within the retail industry and a passion for art, I naturally thought that a commercial gallery would be perfect for me. Impressed by the quality of not only the art, but the customer service as well, I was drawn towards the Red Hill Gallery.

It is the aim of the internship programme to provide students with the opportunity to not only experience working within their field of study, but to transition and relate learnt knowledge into a workplace environment. During my time at the gallery, I found myself learning much more than I had anticipated. Mirroring Elizabeth A. Smith’s (2001) notions on the role of tacit and explicit knowledge in the workplace, the gallery offered me the opportunity to learn tacit knowledge by providing me with face-to-face and ‘hands-on’ methods which conveyed industry knowledge and ‘know how’.

Within my proposed role as a gallery assistant, I contributed to the day to day running of the gallery. As a practical worker, I was pleased to discover how hands-on the duties were and found that I learnt a lot about retail galleries by participating in practical tasks. In learning from Action: A Conceptual Framework, Miriam Hutton (1989) explores the notion of learning through action and states that during her search to create a strong educational programme, she ‘wanted an approach to learning which could enable people to act and to learn at the same time’. This strongly related to my experience as I learnt a lot from my actions and was able to relate and use my academic knowledge within a practical environment.

Not only have I learnt that there is a lot more to a commercial art gallery than I initially thought, I have discovered my own views of selling art and strengthened my professional confidence. I immensely enjoyed my time at the gallery and I am pleased to say that I was successful in reaching my aims of increasing my knowledge of local artists and developing my visual display skills. I would like to thank the ladies of the gallery for providing me with such a warm and educational experience, thank you.

References:

Hutton M 1989. ‘Learning from Action: A Conceptual Framework’, in SW Weil & I McGill (eds), Making sense of experiential learning: diversity in theory and practice, Milton Keynes, The Society for Research into Higher Education and OUP, pp.50-59.

Smith EA 2001, ‘The role of tacit and explicit knowledge in the workplace’. Journal of Knowledge Management, ProQuest Central, vol.5, 4, pp. 311-321.