Friday, May 24, 2013

Arts Intern-tips

See what I did there? If you'd like to learn a bit more about me, aside from my undying love of puns, before diving into content, please check out my background.

Through this blog, I hope that by sharing my thoughts on the performing arts, technology, and what these fields can learn from one another, that I can encourage discussion with colleagues and friends, brainstorm new ideas, and experiment with some of the better ones in the field.

Before I get into the tips, here's a sneak peek at some upcoming topics:
  • What the live arts can learn from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 
  • Millennials donate, but not the same way their parents do
  • Tales of an American theatre intern in London (a summer series)
  • Adventures in acappella with my group, Ladies and Tramps (social media links coming soon!)
  • Thoughts on performances I really fall in (or out) of love with #artschick
  • Occasionally nifty gadgets #techchick
  •  And fashion #chick, and feminism #chick
Without further ado, the tips!

The list below is the result of informal interviews (ie. cornering them in the hallway, or on the subway, or after class...) with fellow arts interns and arts management graduate students. I've added in a few tips of my own too, based on my first internship experience at New York Theatre Workshop.

During the internship hunt...
  • Take the time to make a list of 5 things you'd like to work on during the internship. These can be skills or experiences. Do you want to plan a gala? Solicit donations? Use social media to market a production? Be as specific as you can.
  •  Small or large organization? It depends on the work environment you're looking for, and the challenges you'd like to tackle. At a smaller organization, you might be given greater responsibility, but they might have limited resources to allow you to pursue new ideas or approaches to problems. At a larger organization, they might have the resources, but they might also have enough permanent staff to handle the most interesting work.
  • Look up the organization on GuideStar and check out their recent 990 forms. The organization's financial situation will affect your experience.
  • Cookie-cutter cover letters don't cut it! (I did warn you about the puns). Tailored cover letters are a MUST. Mention specific programs and don't be afraid to share your opinions honestly.
  • Ask questions in the interview about the organization and the specific position you're applying for. This will show the interviewer that you're really interested and will help you determine if it's the right opportunity for you. Take a look back at your list of desired skills and experiences to help you create questions. 
  • Don't automatically jump on the first internship you're offered. Take a few days to consider the experience they're offering against other options. 
While you're working...
  • Keep an open mind about what you can get out of it, you may be surprised by what you learn. Ask questions. Pitch ideas. 
  • Ask for what you want. An internship should be an equal exchange. Remember you're not getting paid! To put it another way, you're being paid only in the knowledge you gain through the experience. If you're not learning enough, speak up.
  • Request a weekly or bi-weekly check-in meeting with your supervisor. Everyone's busy, and it can be difficult to find time to follow through on the previous tip. Dedicating 20 minutes to honestly discussing your needs as in intern and theirs as your supervisor/sponsoring organization, can make the difference between a great experience and a mediocre one.
Have a tip to share? Post them in the comments below, tweet them to @artstechchick with the hashtag #interntips, or email them to me and I'll post them for you, anonymously.

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