Friday, 22 July 2016




This is a time of mixed emotions for many of my cohort (myself included) as we say goodbye to a taste at professional life. I think it is safe to say most of us had amazing internship placements and the generosity of our host supervisors was instrumental to our success. That being said, there is an all-to-familiar feeling that this great experience has ended and that the looming student-life has crept back into our lives.

All of us on our last day #don'tforgetme. Source.
Since my 12-week placement at Canada's National Ballet School (NBS) was an amazing experience, I felt it was best to 'check-in' with a few more of us to find answers to one simple question:

What is the biggest takeaway from your internship?

Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities! It’s amazing how supportive your colleagues can be when you show interest in a project.
- Khristine, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

I would say that one of my biggest takeaways from my internship is that it's important to take advantage of opportunities, or to create opportunities for yourself as much as possible.
- Anja, Toronto Ward Museum 

One of my biggest takeaways is the importance of using the resources available to you, and never being afraid to ask for help or guidance. I found the majority of the people I brought questions to were open and helpful, could always point me in the right direction, and were genuinely interested in supporting me in the projects I was doing.
- Taylor, City of Oshawa

My biggest takeaways are that it takes more than one department to successfully put together an exhibition, and that working in a small museum gives you more opportunities to work in areas that you've never experienced before.
- Tammy, Markham Museum

Working at Open Studio has emphasized the importance of collaboration and community for artist run centres. No task is too small and everyone pitches in to make sure each project is as successful as it can be. I've enjoyed the diverse set of tasks I've been able to do, thanks to the small size of the institution, and have come out of this internship with a better understanding of fundraising, print sales, public programming, collections management, database management and how to write for different medias.
- Bridget, Open Studio

There is no such thing as consistency in collections/record keeping. Make notes about what you're doing (aka leave a paper trail) even if you think it is super obvious; future generations of confused people will love you for it.
- Christine, Museum of Vancouver

I think the biggest takeaway is how important it is to know your audience. This sounds so redundant, I know. But I never saw how crucial it was until I started planning events here and realizing how much we plan events around donors and their preferences. This is also applicable to the museum setting - because you cannot have an effective museum audience for events and openings if you do not learn how to steward the people and make them want to join in  your cultural organization's events. The people and what they want are the key to audiences, donations and success. 
- Danielle, Canada's National Ballet School 

My biggest takeaway is that every aspect of running an arts centre or gallery is more intertwined than one would interpret from looking at the organization of our course. Departments aren't necessarily silos, especially at a smaller-sized institution, and every task counts towards achieving bigger picture results. During my internship I worked on tasks involving public programs, engagement, social media, writing copy for web content, gallery assistance, and more. I had the opportunity to work with amazing people in various positions, who were all working closely together to deliver meaningful programming.
- Emma, Koffler Gallery

You are stronger than you think. Yes you might be an intern but you are capable of more than you realize. So when someone throws you a daunting project: take a breath, and dive right in. If you don't think you will have time, or feel up to it, there are people that can help you along the way as well.
- Hayley, Canada Aviation and Space Museum

No matter how many times you've spell checked or fact checked your reports or labels, it's always worth another read - you will find something almost every time. Your supervisor is there to help you learn and grow as an employee/EMP, so take their advice and their criticisms. No matter how great you are you always have ways to improve! Don't get defensive when presented with constructive criticisms.
- Kate, Bytown Museum

One of my biggest takeaways is the importance of remembering to stay professional, especially in stressful situations. The way you treat your colleagues is just as important as the work you do.
- Rebecca, TIFF

Every job is important, and if you're willing to look, there is something to learn from every task no matter how mundane.
- Brenna, Open Studio

I will say farewell to this column with my biggest takeaway...

An internship is almost entirely about networking. Initially, I wanted my internship to be a formidable learning experience to build my resume for a full-time job after graduation. The reality is that my internship was a learning experience – but it has first and foremost been a networking opportunity. I have realized that professional connections are how I will get ahead in my career and I now appreciate the value of building these relationships.

Good luck to anyone still in their internships and incoming students - if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask!

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