Arts Internships Offer Students Community


Sydney Stam

(Graphic by Sydney Stam | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Whit Fuller, Arts Writer


Arts internships can be intensely rewarding and enriching to the students who participate in them. These internships can provide opportunities for career exploration, academic enrichment and personal growth as an artist.

However, internships can be difficult to balance with a full course load and other commitments, and the stigma associated with career exploration in the arts can add to the burden that students often face in an already stressful environment.

Arts Interns Speak

Ailleen Norris — a former Queer Spectra Arts Festival intern — offered an account of her experiences to the College of Fine Arts and the insights that she gained into finding enjoyment and personal stability as an artist.

“As artists, we get to experience squiggly, often unconventional, sometimes roundabout careers,” Norris said. “I find it to be equal parts frustrating and exciting, but it can be freeing to sit with both of those emotions side by side. Take comfort in your peers, in your communities and in the things that make your craft worth it for you. Those things above all will keep you grounded. And don’t forget to laugh — with others, by yourself and sometimes at yourself.”

A former intern for New Langton Arts in San Francisco, California, Camille Washington stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion within internships. She also encouraged students to be mindful of their rights as workers.

“Queer, cisgender, white men are everywhere in the arts, but that doesn’t absolve the institutions — big to small — from needing more diversity,” Washington said. “Be skeptical of any place or person who says otherwise. Human resource departments exist to protect the businesses/institutions, not the employees. Get to know your rights as a worker.”

Additional student testimonials stress the importance of understanding one’s worth as an intern and prioritizing mental and physical well-being over the demands of any internship. The importance of learning from mistakes, being open-minded to new experiences and remembering one’s individual artistic goals were particularly important highlights.

Community and engagement with creative content often prove beneficial for student artists. Showcasing work in galleries on or near campus, hosting community art nights or even networking with fellow art interns through social media can make a world of difference.

Former Utah Grizzlies intern Vihnson Pham suggested that interns stress less about their skills and focus more on community and encouragement among fellow interns.

“Any skill is a good skill,” Pham said. “I’m in my senior year and I just started this internship. Don’t feel pressured if you don’t get one right away. If you do, that’s perfect! If not, don’t sweat. If you do get a similar internship, go in with an open mind. I know this area of study can be competitive, but everyone here is your team. Help each other and succeed together.”

Arts Advice From Faculty

Kate Wolsey, the Internship Coordinator for The College of Fine Arts, was able to provide encouragement for students who may have a desire to pursue an internship within the college but aren’t quite sure where to start. One of these opportunities includes a past success story of a previous Arts Administration intern.

“It’s invaluable for College of Fine Arts students to participate in an internship,” Wolsey said. “Not only do they get real-world experience, but they are also able to bring their passion and creativity to organizations, providing a mutually beneficial opportunity. There have been many students who have had influential internship experiences. One such example is a School of Music student who was interested in Arts Administration and was able to land an internship to get more hands-on experience. Through this internship, she was able to network with other Arts Administration professionals that would ultimately help launch her career. This is just one of many examples.”

With or without the stigma of pursuing the arts professionally, there are programs and opportunities on campus that can help students achieve their artistic goals. One such program is Arts Force. It offers students the opportunity to attend workshops and form close relationships with professionals and fellow student artists as they pursue their professional and personal goals as artists.

Artistic Vision

Whether a student has access to programs such as Arts Force or the necessary time to allocate toward a professional pursuit such as an internship, art is inherently shaped by the artist. There are always opportunities to grow artistically and personally, but they should never come at the expense of a student’s physical or mental health.


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