In September, the Arts Extension Service will be holding a Fall Arts and Humanities Internship Fair in collaboration with the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and BDIC. As a way to answer commonly asked questions about the internship process, we profile pairings resulting from our internship program. In this article, we profile Live Arts Magazine Director Amanda Herman and UMass Amherst Media Management and Production major Laura Sui. Now entering her senior year, Laura and Amanda worked together in the summer and fall of 2016.
Occurring every fall at the Academy of Music, Live Art Magazine is Northampton’s only art and music magazine created for the stage. It’s a one-night-only, pop-up performance of contemporary art, music, dance, poetry, and prose. The next Live Art Magazine will be on October 20, 2017.
How is an internship different from a job?
This is a commonly asked question and, as seen in previous articles, the big difference is that internships are primarily learning experiences. This doesn’t mean that interns can’t do “work,” but it does mean that they will need your guidance in learning how to do what you are asking them to do – and you will need to consider what learning objectives you have for them, in conversation with them (which is a best practice with employees as well!).
At her internship, Laura was in charge of social media outreach for Live Arts Magazine. She maintained their Facebook and Instagram accounts by posting regularly, and researched and planned the posts carefully to align with current events. But Laura didn’t do this work in isolation – she was given mentorship and an opportunity to be a part of the event’s planning process. “We met weekly to discuss [our work] along with other media ideas – where to put posters, how to promote on air and in print media and ideas of cross-promotion with other events and organizations," said Amanda Herman. “Laura helped to enliven our online presence and make it relevant to younger audiences. Additionally, she assisted in reaching out to area artists to get them involved in the event.”
I work from home. Can I work with an intern from my home office/studio? What is best way to structure an internship in this situation?
Interns can work from home offices and studios. Some simple paperwork is required, so let AES know when you submit your internship posting. Depending on the location of a home office or studio, many internship pairs find it convenient to work from a space along the bus line from UMass. According to Amanda,”We set up a standing one-hour meeting at a local coffee shop, the same time and place each week. We’d go over the plan for social media, discuss the other challenges and deadlines coming up for general production of the event. Then, we’d usually check in via email or text once or twice in-between our meetings. This time I set up a shared google doc that listed our strategy and deadline dates for tasks, which seemed to work well for us both.”
What was the best moment of the internship?
Great internships create relationships that least beyond the internship itself. Witnessing your intern’s skills and passions and figuring how to provide space for them to fully express them is fulfilling for everyone involved. In the case of Laura and Amanda, they shared a similar best moment. According to Laura, “One moment that really stood out to me was when Amanda actually asked myself and my good friend Alisina Saee-Nazari to perform at the event! I really didn’t expect to get that incredible opportunity from this internship.”
In recalling the same moment, it is clear that the decision to ask Laura to participate in the event was an easy one for Amanda. “Laura was a joy to work with, always positive and excited about the work. In each meeting, she brought in new ideas and innovative ways to think about promotion. After learning she was an accomplished singer, I asked if she’d like to perform on stage as part of the event, since part of our mission is to support young artists. We featured Laura and Alisina in one of our podcasts with NEPR, and Laura successfully promoted her participation to her vast network online. It was awesome to see their nervous excitement in the green room of the Academy of Music before the show, then to watch them onstage in front of more than 600 people - many of whom she helped get in the room thanks to her savvy Facebook posting!”
Do you have any advice for those thinking of taking on an intern?
Amanda had several fantastic pieces for anyone considering taking on an intern:
- A strong structure is essential. "I am constantly learning how to be a better intern provider – how to offer enough structure (so I’m getting assistance with things I need to get done) while at the same time, providing enough room to allow the interns to be creative in their participation. I found that weekly in-person meetings are key, along with a set schedule for posting/outreach and other tasks.
- Get it down in writing. “Most organizations would benefit from an intern – provided they have the time to clearly determine the intern’s tasks and responsibilities before the exchange begins. The first year I had an intern I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been and I’m sure they found it frustrating as I tried to figure out what work they could do during our meetings! I learned to write up and provide a more formal intro/orientation to the organization and an intern."
- Be flexible. “Patience and understanding is key, since each intern is juggling school work and often work work, so I learned to be flexible. But setting up clear expectations from the beginning – especially about the importance of timeliness and follow through for example – are key.”
- Make time for your intern. “Build in time to discuss and answer questions - a weekly in-person meeting works well.”
- Create space for your intern to be creative – because creative space leads to engagement. “Allow your intern to be creative and bring to you what they might be most interested in pursuing.”
For more information on becoming an Arts and Culture Internship Provider, read our Internship FAQ and Current Internship Postings page. Also, consider joining us at our next Fall Arts and Humanities Internship Fair on September 14
ABOUT THE ARTS ENTREPRENEURSHIP INITIATIVE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
As part of the AES Arts Entrepreneurship Initiative launched in Spring 2014, the Arts Entrepreneurship Initiative Internship Program promotes and supports internship opportunities with artists, arts businesses, and art organizations that provide UMass students with real world experience in the arts and culture sector.