"I am more certain that I’d like to work to preserve cultural forms such as the folk and traditional arts-- now I have to figure out the best path for me to take in order to fulfill this goal."
Program of Study: Anthropology & Sociology
Internship: Maryland State Arts Council
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Briefly describe your internship and your responsibilities as an intern.
My internship at the Maryland State Arts Council was through the Governor’s Summer Internship Program (GSIP), a program at UMBC’s Shriver Center that aims to give Maryland college students experience in state government. At the Arts Council-- which distributes the state’s funds for the arts to artists, companies and organizations-- I worked specifically on their folk and traditional arts initiative, Maryland Traditions. I was kept busy helping to coordinate their biggest event of the year; I also researched on/for ongoing projects, wrote articles for their website, helped design a publication, set up a Facebook fan page, met with partner organizations, and completed a fieldwork project (from making contact to meeting and interviewing to summarizing my findings and creating a final project) on a topic of my choice. I also did Arts Council-related business such as updating spreadsheets, preparing materials for their Annual Report, etc. A big part of the GSIP program is the policy paper. All interns, although working at different state agencies, must work with a group to identify a policy problem in Maryland, research the topic, come up with a set of solutions and present these to the Governor. I spent many hours at work and at home working on my part of this project.
How did you find your internship?
I saw a link to GSIP on the CDO webpage while I was studying abroad.
What resources did you find particularly helpful in your internship search?
Because I was abroad in the spring, I relied on the internet to do pretty much all of my research. I used the CDO webpage as a launching point to finding internship opportunities. I’m indebted to Skype because I conducted some interviews from Denmark that way!
Why did you choose your internship? What factored into your search and applying?
This program aligned perfectly with my interests and availability. I knew I wanted to be in Baltimore over the summer so I only looked at programs and organizations in the area. I then looked for museums, nonprofits, and arts organizations because I’d like to work in that sector. Upon hearing about the GSIP program, I applied out of curiosity about government work and thought experience in this field would be interesting. I could not have been happier with my placement at the Arts Council because it combined my interest in (folk and traditional) art with state government-- and the schedule, pay and location were all ideal.
What were you most apprehensive about going into your internship?
I was nervous because I had no previous policy experience whereas many of my peers in GSIP were public policy or political science majors at their respective universities.
What did you hope to gain from your internship experience?
I wanted to see how a state agency such as the Arts Council operates, how they go about distributing funds to all the state’s artists. I certainly saw and experienced this first-hand by working on one of their programs.
How did your internship experience influence your academic and career interests/goals/plans?
Although I am still not 100% positive about what I want to do after I graduate, my internship showed me what working as a folklorist (something I’m considering) would be like on a day-to-day basis. I am more certain that I’d like to work to preserve cultural forms such as the folk and traditional arts-- however, I have to figure out the best path for me to take in order to fulfill this goal.
What were the most challenging aspects of your internship?
Conducting the fieldwork process (namely, interviewing and interacting with someone in the field) was a big challenge for me because I felt like my limited experience would make me clumsy and awkward. The fieldwork went pretty well, thanks in large part to my supervisor. A huge challenge for me was approaching the policy paper without any background or experience. It was difficult to conduct this line of research and writing--and to feel confident about it-- but was very rewarding in the end.
What were most rewarding aspects of your internship?
The most challenging projects-- fieldwork and the policy paper-- were both extremely challenging. It is great to see the final products (a video and a published booklet) and know the work that went into them.
Any funny/ embarrassing things happen during your internship?
Presenting to the Governor was a pretty odd and surreal experience, but luckily it wasn’t too embarrassing.
How do you feel your internship prepared you for the real world?
Besides giving me hands-on experience in arts administration (which was very valuable!), this internship really exposed me to the details of state government-- working in it, supporting it, even just understanding what they do.
What advice would you give to students to help them make the most of their internship experience?
Keep an open mind because you never know what you’ll end up doing and who you’ll end up meeting at your internship site. Trying new skills is always tough but can be so rewarding.
How do you utilize the skills you developed in your internship experience in your job now?
Additional administrative experience helps in my work in a few offices on campus currently. I hope to use similar networking methods, research tools, marketing strategies, and follow the same goal of cultural preservation in my future career.