Students in creative fields highlight internship differences and difficulties – 71Bait

With the beginning of the spring semester, the campus-wide internship search for students begins. While many students interested in fields such as business and technology may already have secured internships, the job search process can present unique challenges for students interested in creative industries.

“Consulting is definitely that big, and since creative roles aren’t that big, does it feel like I should?” said Mary Bibbey ’22, who recently did an internship with a Brown graduate for a nonprofit graduated that supports the use of sustainable textile practices.

For the 2020 class, 47% of freshman year post-college graduates said they had jobs in finance, consulting, or technology. Communication, media and arts students accounted for nine percent of the total. This imbalance results in a significant presence of recruitment events for consulting, computer science and finance, while recruitment for the arts is ambiguous, according to Aixa Kidd, deputy director of the university’s CareerLab.

“We’re dealing with an issue of student population and student interest,” Kidd said, citing the relatively lower popularity of internships in the arts. “We have a smaller population at Brown interested in these opportunities, and that’s impacting employers who want to hire here because they want volume.”

Recruitment season for summer jobs in finance, technology, and consulting typically occurs in the fall, with employers often hosting events and interviews with students. According to Kidd, students in these roles typically receive job offers in December, nearly three months before most creative fields start posting vacancies.

CareerLab is aware of the cultural dynamics surrounding on-campus internships, Kidd said. “Unfortunately, we’re under peer pressure,” she added.

“I’ve had conversations with people that when you go to a school like Brown, you have this expectation of striving for the best,” Bibbey said. “When consulting and business roles are seen as the best next step, then it feels like people crave that elite role when it doesn’t align with what they should be doing to be most fulfilling in life.” be.”

Despite the social pressures on campus, many students still choose other paths. “You have to be confident in what you’re doing,” said Natasha Poster ’23, who has twice interned at Los Angeles record label The Darkroom.

“I also had a moment where I thought maybe I should have become an economics major,” Poster said. “But I know that in the long run I’ll be happier doing what I love (rather than) chasing after what everyone else wants to do.”

Ensuring funding is another complicating factor for students finding internships in the arts. Unlike business and computer science internships, which often pay full salary for the job, according to Maddie Groff ’23, art students often receive small stipends that pale in comparison to the cost of living in media centers like New York or Los Angeles. Groff has found several remote internships through BrownConnect and has worked in three different roles over the past summer to explore her interests and afford living in New York City.

“I didn’t want to spend my entire summer in Los Angeles without getting paid,” Groff said. “But during COVID I had more freedom where I could work on multiple things.”

To support students with low and unpaid internships, CareerLab offers its Summer LINK program, which, according to its website, awards around 120 summer scholarships to students doing unpaid or low-paying internships. An often-misunderstood feature of the program is that students must secure work before applying for LINK grants, Kidd said. Rather, all they have to do is apply to a low-paying job to meet the requirements.

Adding to the difficulty of finding an arts internship is a shortage of students from arts and media organizations, Kidd said. While big companies have the resources to send recruiters on campus, art students often have to reach out to organizations themselves, Kidd added.

Media and arts organizations “do not recruit like (computer science), consulting or banks do. They don’t have money or staff, so we did the public relations for them,” Kidd said. CareerLab regularly communicates with alumni in the arts to set up Bruno Internships, roles that require two of the final candidates to be Brown students. Previous opportunities have included jobs at local film festivals, art museums and media organizations.

“Brown Resources were helpful in finding internships,” said Groff. “But I wish they would be further promoted. The resources are there, but I don’t think they’re doing enough to help students (in the arts) the way they do STEM students.”

“At a high level on campus, there might be a greater presence of the paths you need to take to find these other opportunities,” Bibbey said. “There is such a dominant presence of business roles on Handshake and BrownConnect.”

Other students find more success managing job outreach efforts on their own. Poster got her first internship in the music industry by sending cold messages to a high school alumni who ran The Darkroom, the label that signed Billie Eiliish. She has also benefited from the connections she made in Los Angeles to pursue other internships.

“I made those opportunities happen by showing that you’re passionate about something and by continuing to follow up even when you’re annoying,” Poster said. In addition to messaging alumni on LinkedIn, she also keeps in touch with colleagues doing similar work at other universities.

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For younger students without existing networks, CareerLab offers an internship matching program for students who want to work in media in Los Angeles. Students apply and are then matched into internships at documentary, film and audio production companies, Kidd said.

“We’re trying to spread the word that there’s a lot of opportunity in art — it comes later,” Kidd said. “Connections are key to finding open opportunities in media and arts, and we have focused primarily on alumni and parent connections.”

Students have said that the dynamic nature of creative work often makes it difficult to provide structural support to students. For example, theater groups may not know how many interns they need until several months before summer performances, Groff said.

“I think it’s good practice because the nature of media and art is that you never really know what you’re doing,” Groff said. “It’s always going to change when you’re creative, so the silver lining to this work is looking for an internship that’s exhausting, that’s what life after college is like.”

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