Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Learning From Our Predecessors

Next on our journey we decided to go straight to someone who has seen it all in the internship world.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors established the Arts Internship Program (which provides internships for nonprofit performing, presenting, literary and municipal arts organizations). The purpose of the County's program is to provide undergraduate students with meaningful on-the-job training and experience in working in nonprofit arts organizations, while assisting arts organizations to develop future arts leaders.

Some of the stated goals of their program are that students:
•Develop a deeper understanding of the work involved in nonprofit arts administration;
•Better understand the role of the arts in a community;
•Develop "real life" business skills that can be put to use in their future careers.

During the ten-week course of the summer internships, participating organizations gain the assistance of extra staff to help with special or seasonal projects. Participating organizations also play an important role in molding and shaping potential new workers in the arts sector who may go on to arts leadership positions on staffs or boards.

It was very helpful to hear what challenges there are in placing students in various organizations including:
•Each student has highly personalized career learning needs and interests;
•Organizations are at varied levels of readiness to create an intern experience that is rich and satisfying to both sides;
•Students and participating organizations need a high level of ongoing support to ensure placements are successful.

Angela specifically mentioned the outcry from graduate students desiring this type of formal internship since currently their program is only open to undergraduate students. It seems our assertion could be correct that graduate students are craving this type of placement internship.

We hope to have past LA County interns in our focus group because they have uniquely experienced a successful internship placement and we want to get their input on how that experience affected where they are now.

The LA County Arts Commission fosters excellence, diversity, vitality, understanding and accessibility of the arts in Los Angeles County. The Commission provides leadership in cultural services for the County, including information and resources for the community, artists, educators, arts organizations and municipalities.
There are over 2,800 arts organizations and 150,000 working artists in the County of Los Angeles, creating the largest concentration of arts activity in the United States.

1 comment:

  1. As a participant in the focus groups and a past LA County intern myself, I would agree that looking toward this model is necessary in crafting this new intern initiative in discussion. I had a wonderful experience with the LA County Arts Commission internship program and believe that it did for me the various things listed in this description, particularly as it allowed me to gain deeper understanding and experience working with a non-profit arts company in LA. It also allowed for a greater feeling of connection to the LA arts community on the whole. What more, it allowed me, particularly because I worked in a small company, to have hands on business experience doing specific tasks that I might be responsible as a future art leader. The opportunity to have actual responsibility and my name and hard work on projects made me feel like a necessary staff member of the company for which I interned. I think moving forward with this graduate student intern program, that is the most important factor to consider. It is incredible to get insight from talented professionals in the field, however, what more, it is equally as valuable to be given projects and responsibility. The internship program should be as much a learning process as a doing process because for me, I have learned the most in my undergraduate career from actually applying my skills and doing the work itself.

    I think there is a great opportunity for the CTG graduate intern program to be a smashing success, it is just important that the ultimate right combination of desired elements as discuss in the focus groups are met. There is so much potential, if all elements are touched upon, for this program to be an incredible learning environment for an emerging professional to gain insight and experience.