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Internship with Dance/NYC

Published on
May 13

Last spring, I was the Special Event Intern with Dance/NYC, a non-profit organization that bolsters infrastructure within the New York City dance community, organizes advocacy initiatives and carries out research to make data-driven recommendations to policy makers and to the field as a whole.  I obtained the internship through the Columbia Arts Experience program, which is sponsored by the Center for Career Education and the Columbia Arts Initiative and offers semester-long internships specifically in arts-related and not-for-profit organizations.

The internship was a perfect introduction to non-profit administration and gave me a foothold in the professional world.  I worked closely with the small and close-knit staff to plan, promote and execute events that have a large impact on dance artists and managers.  I was entrusted with crucial and comprehensive projects that were incorporated into the organization in a sustainable way.  My first and largest project of the semester was preparing and executing the 2012 Dance Symposium, the city’s only all-day conference for the dance community.  The Symposium was significantly larger than that of the previous year in terms of programming, speaker participation and venue logistics, so I worked to identify over 50 volunteers.  I oversaw much of the event communication between Dance/NYC, speakers, the venue and volunteers via email lists and our website.  After the Symposium, I did much of the same for multiple town halls, which were comparatively smaller events open to the public.  I also promoted events on our website, monitored press releases, and emailed our constituency with program updates.

My time at Dance/NYC was also a great networking opportunity.  When New York dance companies asked Dance/NYC staff members to write financial and artistic grants for them, the staff instead directed the New York dance companies to me for grant writing services.  As a result, I have two clients who turn to me for grant writing as needed.  I should note that I had not written grants before this internship, but after seeing the grants to which Dance/NYC applies and receives, I took on the challenge with the support of the staff.  It was an exhilarating experience, having a part in the financial makeup of companies supported by Dance/NYC.

I encourage those of you interested in pursuing arts-related fields to investigate the internships available through the CAE program.  The program and my time with Dance/NYC has been an invaluable educational and professional experience, informing me about my preferred work environment, the specific difficulties facing the dance field and, on a larger scale, the inner workings of a not-for-profit organization which fights for the arts as a cultural necessity and the policies needed to sustain these fields.  All the while, the CAE organizers were incredibly supportive, providing instructive sessions for the CAE interns in which we could learn from other interns’ experiences in their internships and ask for advice on handling specific work situations.  Whether I choose to go into arts administration or not, I have a strong set of professional and personal skills that can be transferred to many fields and will help me succeed in future internships and career exploration.