ArtsForce Treks Are Back and Bringing New Artistic Experiences to Students


ArtsForce members have a meeting. (Courtesy of ArtsForce)

By Whit Fuller and Alfonso Belloso


The student-led organization ArtsForce has relaunched its Career Treks Program, which connects students in the arts with experiences and career opportunities from a number of local organizations, including Salt Lake Acting Company and Ballet West.

Treks on the Force

The workshops, programs and other events provided by ArtsForce help to facilitate the expansion of creative and professional opportunities for undergraduate students in arts disciplines as they prepare to transition to a career outside of college. Treks aren’t limited solely to students in the College of Fine Arts at the University of Utah — many are open to students regardless of their area of study to encourage exploration of the arts on and near campus.

ArtsForce programs are led in part by members of the Emerging Leaders Internship Program. The program was created to provide fine arts students with the opportunity to become leaders in their campus community. Students take on leadership roles to help their peers gain experience in different career experiences while also engaging with various creative mediums. 

“Regardless of what specific fine arts discipline you’re in (I happen to be a Film and Media Arts major), there’s value for everyone in every trek,” said emerging leaders intern Duke Ross in an email interview. “While it’s maybe not the most professional way to put it, at their core, our Career Treks are like collegiate extracurricular field trips.” 

ArtsForce has organized treks to several fine arts institutions in the Salt Lake area, including SLAC and Rise Up School of Dance. The Rise Up School of Dance trek offered students the opportunity to learn what it takes to start a nonprofit organization, tour the school and speak with recently graduated alumni about their experiences. SLAC is a fixture for many campus events and organizations. The company’s University Professional Theatre Program provides additional opportunities for students studying all facets of theatre and its performances are marketed around several campus locations. The trek allowed students to learn about careers in art administration and tour workspaces while speaking with artists and other professionals. 

Worth the Trek

Most recently in March of 2022, a trek to Ballet West marked a return to in-person and more involved treks after the pandemics’ worst points. “Although everyone is sick of hearing this particular sentiment, it’s great having the opportunity to host events in person again,” Ross said. “This year alone we’ve hosted treks to Utah Symphony, Utah Opera and Impatient Cow Productions.”

The ArtsForce’s most recent trek to Ballet West included a look at the behind-the-scenes production process for one of the most prestigious ballet companies in America, according to the description on the ArtsForce website’s event page. The trek provided insight into production and performances for students. Ballet West offers additional opportunities for students to connect and network via internships at the company in a variety of positions.

“During my time with ArtsForce, I have learned many of the skills that are necessary in the professional world but are not always taught in classes,” Ross said. “I’ve noticed that there is a notable absence of soft skills and general rules of professional conduct being taught to fine arts majors, and I really admire how ArtsForce has made an effort to instill these qualities in both its interns and the CFA student body as a whole.”

These and other programs make ArtsForce an important part of undergraduate experiences on campus. ArtsForce interns are able to get leadership experience and networking opportunities with their peers and others. Whether or not they personally have an interest in artistic disciplines, it is still a valuable resource for students interested in gaining professional experience. 

Joining the ArtsForce

Among the ArtsForce treks and networking events, involvement comes with a myriad of benefits and memorable experiences. “This role has completely changed the way I thought about getting a career after college,” said emerging leaders intern Cayden Turnbow in an email interview. “More specifically, establishing the importance of networking and the tools available to students to maximize their experience here on campus.”

Being a part of a leadership role in the ArtsForce provides students with experience in collaboration, promoting academic social activities and ultimately building an inclusive campus community for students interested in an art career. The collaborative atmosphere provides students with hands-on experiences coordinating and organizing campus events. These events provide students with a better understanding of what a career in the arts will look like after college. “My favorite ArtsForce memory is probably when we held our networking event this spring,” Turnbow said. “We had so many people show up and they actually wanted to learn more about how to build up their network. It made it even more satisfying knowing we put so much work into the preparation of this event and it actually was helping students.”

The program interns are responsible for organizing and planning annual events for students to attend. “I had a larger role organizing the career trek to Impatient Cow Productions last fall,” Turnbow said. “It was a whole lot of emails back and forth with the location deciding what we would do, when we would do it and how it aligned with our goals as an ArtsForce team.” There are a multitude of choices to be made and possible directions to be taken for incoming students when crafting the college experience that fits them best. For those interested in a career in the arts, it is important to consider the support and encouragement provided by the ArtsForce community.

Career in the Arts

ArtsForce has been hosting events for students since 2013 and has grown into a year-long series of student-organized events. Past events include artist budgeting and personal money management programs, the annual networking event and luncheon as well as seminars on how to plan and execute goals as an artist. These events are joined by guest speakers who share their first-hand experiences in their careers as artists. Establishing a presence as an artist can be a challenging field to navigate and ArtsForce is available for students by providing resources and support at every step of the way. There are also resources such as Handshake, which connects students with employment and internship opportunities that can be tailored toward a specific career search. Connecting with students and employers is the first step in creating a network of creatives that share the same interests. Students who are intent on a career in the arts, connecting with students and having administrative opportunities should join ArtsForce. It’s a student-led organization that provides ample opportunities for its members to take part in programs and events, connect with students and generate real-life experiences which can be beneficial for life after college. 

The ArtsForce Canvas page will provide frequently updated information regarding upcoming career treks, Instagram live events and internship or job opportunities. Students can find more information on how to join ArtsForce on their website.

The ArtsForce program wants students to succeed and can be a significant opportunity for students to connect with mentors, artists, businesses and organizations. The goal of the program is to assist students in developing personal skills that will help them succeed in their arts careers after college. ArtsForce interns have been enthusiastically grateful for the opportunity to learn and connect with both artists and organizations in the community. Turnbow concluded with a passionate call to action — “Join ArtsForce!”


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