Arts Intern Insider: Armory Center for the Arts

Connie Martinez Career Advice, College, Student Resources, Visual Arts

The summer season may bring on the heat and the long awaited vacation from school, but for many high school graduates and college students, summertime also means job applications and internships. For first timers, this can be a nerve wracking time. But don’t fret, the Artzray Arts Intern Insider is here to help!

The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA is a non-profit community arts organization hosting multiple interns this summer several of whom offered their inside scoop on their #internslife.

Armory summer interns in our featured photo collage include clockwise from left: Getty Exhibitions intern Emily Rose; Getty Communications intern Andrea Cenon and Flintridge Prep photo intern Abby Webster; Summer Studio Intern, Julienne Fusello; Armory staff  Onya Hogan–Finlay (center) with John Muir intern Estela Zarate (left) and CalState LA intern Andrea Salazar.

Summer Studio Intern

13450252_10154460665104305_1800015654459240190_nDo you have any tips for student’s who are just out of high school or in college that are looking for internships?

Julienne Fusello, UCLA Art Department graduate – Never hesitating to apply to something. Even if you don’t think you’ll get it, or you aren’t sure if you want the position, it doesn’t hurt to apply! I think you will always learn from each job you apply for, and that you can put what you learned from that process towards the next application. You also learn a lot about yourself with either application! The first interview I ever had in my whole life was at a really high end gallery, and it went completely terribly! But that’s okay, I learned from it, and took what I learned and used it in my next interviews.

When do you recommend getting an internship?
Early! If you think you can handle it, try getting an internship your first summer after college! The more experience you have the better, and the more you know about what you’re interested in, and also what you’re not.

What do you think is the biggest benefit from having an internship?
I think one of the biggest benefits is being able to get a taste of what it is like to work somewhere, without the long term commitment. For example, when I worked for X-TRA, a really small non-profit art publication, I soon realized that I was quite disinterested in working for a publication. But now I know that, and I can refocus my job searches and ideas away from that line of work. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t tried it. I also learned that working for free is really hard, and I would not usually recommend it. I would only recommend it if you really really enjoy doing it, you would be doing it anyways, but overall, I believe that people should be compensated for their work.

Having worked at the Armory for over a month now, I have learned a lot about how non-profits function, and have learned that I really appreciate them, and can see myself working at another institution like this one.

NOTE: Good things can come from internships – Julienne was just hired by the Armory as a full-time Studio Registrar!

Visual Communications Intern

12662718_10207595411657527_6934767956181258378_nWhen do you recommend getting an internship?
Andrea Cenon, student at Cal State University, Los Angeles – Right now! Apply for everything and anything. It’s good to get yourself out there and start learning now. Don’t wait to be the “perfect candidate,” just go for it.

What do you think is the biggest benefit from having an internship?
There are tons of benefits with internships. Some internships will be amazing and others won’t be, that’s just the nature of being an intern. The most beneficial aspects of being an intern that I’ve experienced over the years (in different internships) has been what I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve built. Don’t burn bridges with old bosses, and maintain healthy and fun friendships with people you meet along the way. I’ve learned a lot of skills within my field, but also character-building experiences. Internships take you out of your comfort zone and stretches you in a way that a classroom simply will not.

Do you advise getting an internship that is in the same career field that you’re going to pursue, or choosing something out of your area to gain experience?
Yes and yes. You definitely need to get an internship in your career field, so you gain an understanding of what you’ll eventually be doing. However, be open to other internships that are within the vicinity of your career. For me, I’m studying design, but I wouldn’t shy away from a marketing or business internship. The more you know, the more valuable you are to an employer.

Gallery Assistant Intern

IMG_8540Should people always look for a paid internship? Or are unpaid just as good?

Emily Weiss, University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design graduate – I have worked both paid and unpaid internships, and found my experiences on both sides to be extremely enlightening for different reasons. During a paid internship, you feel like a real member of the team you are working with because your time is being rewarded financially. Paid internships generally foster more trust between intern and employer; you’re less likely to want to call in sick for a paid internship, and you will be motivated to be on time and active throughout the day if you are being paid for your efforts.

Of course, unpaid internships can be just as rewarding, especially if you are involved with an organization or cause you are truly interested in and excited about. At the end of the day, it is up to you to make the decision to work for free and receive nonmaterial rewards, or to receive a paycheck. I greatly enjoyed working my unpaid internship last summer at an art gallery in Culver City, but I made sure that opportunity opened more doors for me than another paid internship could.

Do you advise getting an internship that is in the same career field that you’re going to pursue? Or choosing something out of your area to gain experience?

I think it is important to commit yourself to an internship that you feel will be valuable for your personal growth and understanding of where you want to be in five years. There’s no point in accepting an internship in a field that you are completely uninterested in, even if it pays handsomely or has amazing hours. It’s much better to find an internship doing something you are even remotely interested in, as this will motivate you to work harder and make more connections with the people you are work for.

What about the job application?
It’s vital that all of your applications convey a professional tone. Cover letters that are riddled with spelling or grammatical errors reflect poorly on the hard work you’ve done over the years; have someone you trust look over your applications and take their advice to heart. Read your cover letter aloud several times to avoid choppy or awkward, long-winded phrases that will just confuse the people reading your application. The more concise and straightforward your cover letter, the more likely you will receive an invitation for an interview. Always adjust the content of your cover letter to accurately reflect the job-description of the position you are applying for, and include specific examples of experiences or skills that make you the perfect candidate. If you have a personal website, check that it’s up-to-date before sending out your application, and be sure your social media presence is work-friendly; if not, make your profiles private. There’s no use in sending out a serious cover letter just to have your potential-employer find distasteful pictures or comments you posted online.

Art Administration Assistant and Data Analyst Intern

1452925724331-1Do you have any tips for student’s who are just out of high school or in college that are looking for internships?
Andrea Salazar, student at Cal State University, Los Angeles – Never stop looking. As a student myself, I understand it is a challenge to look for an internship while being occupied with school, work, and personal life. With all of these factors to face, sometimes one feels like giving up on the search for an internship. But all one needs to do is to keep on searching for internships online, career fairs, social media and to never pass on any opportunities to introduce yourself in order to network.

Should people always look for a paid internship? Or are unpaid just as good?
I believe people should not always look for a paid internship because I feel people focus on getting paid than actually focusing on the experience of the internship itself. There are so many benefits from having an internship such as gaining skills, and networking.

Do you advise getting an internship that is in the same career field that you’re going to pursue? Or choosing something out of your area to gain experience?
I recommend students who are looking for an internship to not limit themselves just by looking for an internship in the same career field. It limits not only your opportunities in your career, but as well you will be not as prepared, experienced, creative and open-minded.


The Armory builds on the power of art to transform lives and communities through creating, teaching and presenting the arts.

The Armory Center for the Arts has been at the forefront of art education in southern California for more than 60 years. Today, we maintain our commitment to providing accessible public spaces for the exhibition of contemporary art and to providing meaningful experiences in art education.


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Connie Martinez

Connie Martinez

Consuelo Martinez, is a graduate of Pasadena’s John Muir High School, and just finished her freshman year at Pasadena City College. She is a first generation Mexican-American and also a first-generation college student. Within the past year and a half, she found her voice in writing, poetry and public speaking and essentially found who she was: a poet, writer, artist and feminist. Connie plans on a writing career and hopes to be an English teacher, as well as a role model for young Latinas who come from a background similar to hers.
Connie Martinez

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