After a couple of semesters in your fine arts program, you may come to realize that you want to pursue a specific career. But, how do you know if it's going to be a good fit for you? One of the best ways to do this is by gaining work experience. Spend a summer or semester doing an internship in your area of specialization may not only lead to career opportunities, but it will help you decide whether it is the right avenue for you!
Internships have become more prevalent in the past decade for undergraduate and graduate students in the United States. Each year hundreds of students will apply for any one internship opportunity where only a select few are chosen. The competition may seem daunting, while the process is very similar to applying to college. Fine art internships are especially competitive in the US as this is a typical requirement for many academic programs. Upon graduation, many companies will not even consider an applicant if they haven't completed an internship.
Students should not be intimidated by the internship process. Most art internships are fun and allow you to extend your creativity into new mediums you may never have thought possible. The sole purpose of internships is to give students the necessary skills needed for full-time employment after graduation. The experience will also provide students with invaluable contacts and references that will be needed once students enter into their respective professions.
It is important to note that there are a variety of fine arts internships in the US. Some opportunities can be found locally, but most can be found nationally or internationally. International students must make sure that an internship opportunity is open to non US citizens before applying. Undergraduate internships are usually focused at a specific grade level, usually juniors or seniors, with the occasional internship being open to underclassmen. When searching for internships, students should make sure they qualify and meet the specified deadlines. They should also take note what time of year the internship takes place. Most occur in the summer, but there are some that are available during the school year.
Searching for art internships may seem stressful, but the process is easy and it is important that students choose something that they really enjoy. There are many different types of internships, but most come down to paid or unpaid positions. Those opportunities that pay usually offer a stipend or salary. However, most internships will only pay money to cover transportation and food. While unpaid internships may not seem appealing at first, it is important to note that there are still benefits. Some businesses will offer discounts, tickets to shows, or their own products to entice students to intern for them. Whether you get paid or not, students should also inquire about receiving college credits for their internship as well.
Below are three different types of internship programs international students can consider. The specifics of each opportunity are unique to that internship. Keep in mind that there are many different types of internships for any major and that these are just specific examples:
Unpaid internship in the fashion industry
The fashion industry can be very competitive and as such it has become a requirement to participate in an internship before you can obtain a job and begin to build your reputation. Most internship opportunities are found in New York City or Los Angeles, but other opportunities exist throughout the US. Designer Kenneth Cole offers an unpaid internship in NY and NJ. Students are reimbursed $10 a day for transportation, 40% discount on products, free meals on site, and can receive college credit. The internship takes place 3-5 days a week. They are looking for students with knowledge of fashion trends, who possess creativity, understand qualities of fabric and who have strong drawing skills. Students can apply to work in marketing, design services, licensing, and many other opportunities. This particular internship is offered during the fall semester.
Paid internship with a museum
Working in a museum is another great art internship opportunity. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY offers both paid and unpaid internships. There are currently 41 paid internships for undergraduate and graduate students. The Summer Mentoring Program is an internship specifically for college juniors. The purpose is to encourage diverse students to pursue museum careers. A student is assigned a department and works closely with a supervisor and their mentor to complete assigned projects. The projects include researching ancient objects, assisting in photo shoots, and writing condition reports on museum objects. Students also assist the information desk and present special topics tours two days a week. For the first two weeks they attend a MuSe seminar where they learn how to curate and educate guests as well as the operational structure of the museum. The internship is full time (35 hours a week) during the summer and students are paid roughly $9.29 an hour. You will need to check with your school and museum about any visa restrictions that may apply as an international student.
Educational/paid internship with a university
Small and large companies are a great place for international students to seek an internship, but they should also consider universities. Juilliard provides a professional intern program in technical theater and arts administration. The program offers hands-on experience in costumes, electrics, props, scene painting, stage management, wigs, makeup, orchestra management, and vocal arts. Intern performances are monitored and given evaluations. Students have the opportunity to work with alumni, build contacts, and realistically find out if they are making the correct career choice. The program is nine months long and lasts from September–May. Interns receive a stipend of $315 per week, but are in charge of finding their own housing (in NY). It is also important to note that the program is full time.
As you can see, there are a variety of fine art internships in the US. Keeping this information and deadlines in mind, students should apply to as many internship opportunities as they can. Whether it is paid or unpaid, an internship will provide them with invaluable information and experience that is sure to benefit any student's future.