I asked a group of colleagues to give me their best piece of advice for interns working in arts and arts management.
You’ll see some big recurring themes in their answers, including:
- Asking questions.
- Shaping your own experience.
- Being proactive.
- Communicating with your supervisor.
- Finding a mentor.
What did they miss?
What advice would you give to an intern about making the most of his/her experience?
“Ask questions. Observe operations and then figure out where you can fit in… and then put yourself there if you can.”
“Strive to make a good impression on everyone you meet. Theatre is a small world, and the same people you meet during your internship will continue to come into your life in many other contexts. You never know when you could be talking to your future boss.”
“Sometimes your supervisor doesn’t have the time to mentor you. Instead, consider the resources of the organization you’re working for. Pitch a project that you know you can do and follow through. Don’t wait for someone to hand you an opportunity– the internship is the opportunity; now use the resources available to you.”
“Always be looking for opportunities to observe the work in action. Your mentor won’t always have the time to instruct you but you can learn a lot just from watching.”
“Keep a little pocket notepad during the internship to keep a log and notes of things that were done throughout the day, or notes on certain policies and/ or procedures. This is always a nice thing to do because later they can be reviewed and it will better remember it for later on. I know how it gets with so much information going on, it’s hard to try and remember it all.”
“If given the opportunity to write pretty much anything, take it.”
“Meet and talk to as many people as possible and learn about them, not just about their jobs. Find out how they got here and how a career with an organization like Center Theatre Group is satisfying not just in the salary-and-benefits sense, but in the way it nourishes the soul. As a corollary: see every show you can, both on our stages and with the companies that are run, staffed and peopled with the colleagues they meet here at CTG, and then talk to people about the work. This is an amazing opportunity to build a network and to further develop the foundation and vocabulary of a creative professional career.”
“Take every opportunity thrown your way!”
“Talk to EVERYONE willing to talk to you about what they do, why they do it, how they do it – especially the aspects of the company you’re either not interested in or know nothing about (they may surprise you). Use the internship as an excuse to learn as much about Los Angeles as possible. Find all the hidden gems of art throughout the massive metro area (I know for a fact there were many I missed out on due to time constraints and distance and blah blah blah… It’s my biggest regret). Even if they’re an LA native (or maybe especially if) there are going to be all kinds of people and places to get to know.”
“Read everything! Whenever you’re asked to make copies or file things, you can learn a ton just by reading all that stuff. Ideally the intern experience won’t ONLY be copying/filing, but since that’s probably a part of it, make it useful.”
“Do informational interviews, ask for big projects, be proactive. Also, keep a learning journal!”
“Take initiative, work quickly and accurately. The more proactive and engaged you are, the more you’ll benefit.”
“Ask lots of questions!”
“Don’t be intimidated and always ask. Ask tons of questions and want to know the answers. Be proactive.”
“Have an expectations talk with your supervisor. Make sure you share what you ‘expect’ from him/her and the internship in addition to hearing what is expected of you.”