You’re an artist and you want to get some work experience in your field, so you’re going to apply for an arts intern position. That’s great, you’re on the right track! An internship is a perfect testing ground for your potential arts career. You’ve done your research, contacted your school’s career center, and now you have some applications in front of you.
How are you supposed to know what will make your application strong and successful?
Since 2000, I’ve hired and supervised over 20 interns, in my role a Education Manager at Ryman Arts. I’ve read hundreds of applications, and given dozens of interviews. Furthermore, I work with alumni from Ryman Arts to help them to apply for internships at other organizations. I see some wonderful, glowing examples of promising youth out there! I also see some of the same mistakes over and over again. Let me start by assuring you that you are fabulous and someone would be lucky to have you as an intern, but let me give you three tips that all arts organizations really want arts intern applicants to know:
If you submit an application that has typos, that uses lowercase i and misspells the name of my organization, that mixes up to and too, what does that say to me? It says that you aren’t careful, that you aren’t very interested in this position, that you aren’t detail-oriented, and that your education up to this point has been weak. I’m wracking my brain for an excuse to turn in an application that isn’t proof-read, and I can’t think of any. Re-read your submission carefully before you turn it in, and have the best writer you know read it with instructions to be very critical. If you turn in sloppy work, you will look sloppy. If you turn in flawless work, you will look flawless.
2. Be confident in yourself.
Maybe you haven’t had a job, or the jobs you’ve had seem unimportant to you compared with the rad internship you are applying for. Most people aren’t expecting interns to come in with experience, so don’t feel badly if you don’t have any. I guarantee you that you have a good side to show! For any responsibilities you have had, find an honest (no embellishing!) way to portray them as work experience. Dog walking, babysitting, school leadership, team sports, church leadership, building an online community – all these things can be on your resume as relevant experience. Also, you probably have some special skills that don’t seem special to you because you take them for granted. Are you fluent in a language other than English? That’s gold, make sure you put that on there! Do you know how to edit photos, or code, or sew? Put it in there! It may be more relevant than you think, and even if it’s not, it gives your application personality and tells the story of who you are. Speaking of which…
3. You’re an artist? Look like it.
One of my pet peeves is when a resume states graphic design as a skill, but said resume was clearly done in a dull-as-dirt Word template. Resumes and cover letters should be first and foremost easy to read (remember that reviewers are usually reading many of these at a time, be concise and legible), but it can only help to also look interesting. You’re an arts intern applicant after all, so express yourself visually, choose your font carefully, use color, design your own logo, be beautiful!
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