Let’s talk about successful internships and what does this success look like?

Q and A with Alex Emmerman, Arts Management Alumnus


Where did you intern and what was the description?

My internship was at the Freer Sackler for PR and Marketing. I was involved in planning the Asia After Dark events, press releases for different events, collecting all the data for marketing and calculating the value of this marketing.

My internship was very successful–it led to meeting with one of my best friends and a few performances at the Freer Sackler.

There were a lot of things that made it fantastic.

What made my internship great was that I didn’t just focus on the day-to-day tasks.  I knew what I wanted to get out of it. And that was being a part of the digital strategy that went into the gallery and the events. I needed to be assertive about what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to do events and to talk to Education about digital strategy. Working with start-ups for so long that I had so much social media and digital knowledge to share.

Q: Did you have work related experience before the internship or was this all new? 

A lot of it was new to me. Working in a gallery was new. I have been doing graphic design for about ten years prior to this and event planning for my own events. When I sat down with everyone they were most intrigued that I had done event production. They asked me what I was interested in honing in on and I said the logistics behind events. I worked heavily with Amanda Williams who was the event planner for the gallery. Everything she touched, I was around to help. She had me working on getting in-kind donations and setting up things we would be interested in getting into the gallery. That was really great and new for me, for this particular Japanese weekend we worked on bringing Japanese arcade games to the gallery.

Q: How logistically did you implement achieving a successful internship? Did you write down goals? 

Prior to starting the internship I spoke with Violet Mandell, an AU Alum, and she told me they will give me a whole lot of work to do. And if I don’t know what I want to do then I can be busy the entire time. I needed to focus on what I wanted to do.  Speaking to her gave me a good mindset for starting the internship. When it came down to writing things down for what I wanted to do, I didn’t really do any of that. I just talked to them and conveyed the message that I am interested in doing many things. And when things arose I made sure to have my hand up saying I would love to be involved with that. When we would have large-scale meetings education would talk about what they were interested in doing, I would chime in. They became interested in me and I began getting pulled in the education direction

Q: You felt everyone was receptive to new ideas and your ideas?

Yeah, this was my first time working in a gallery. I came from the world where everything is possible, the startup world “We’re going to do this! We don’t know how yet, but it’s going to get done.” I still live in that mentality. Working with bureaucracy and the government system, not everyone is always receptive of your ideas.

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Q: Can you tell me a story of one of your greatest experiences or accomplishments? 

In a meeting with education they were talking about using an ipad for an exhibit to post people’s photos using the Cranes and Clouds exhibit as the background. They wanted to have a collage with people’s photos and they didn’t know how to get these photos. I suggested we could use social media for this, using Instagram and a great hashtag. That is when I began working with Education more on this project than Marketing and PR. For about four weeks prior I worked really heavily on implementing this. We also broadcast these photos on the walls using a live feed…adding more documentation of people’s photos.

After the event I connected with ImaginAsia about integrating ipads in the permanent collection and using Q codes around the permanent collection that would access a deeper level of content for the collection.

Q: Was your planning process more organic or structured? 

Yes, it was more of an organic process. Voicing my opinion was very important, not being shy. Making sure my ideas were heard and I spoke up. That is what really helped me, because I had knowledge from the past and I wanted to bring that to the gallery.

Q: You spoke about your assertiveness as one of your strengths. How did the internships strengthen a weakness?

Understanding bureaucracy and following the rules. In a government building I had to understand steps. I never had to do that working for start-ups. Here I had to take a step back. Knowing when not to push.

Q: In the program we try to develop leaders. How does your internship tie into that idea?

They definitely gave me more a lot more control and power that I had considered I was going to get. And this made me step-up. They gave me a lot of trust. It made me step up to the plate and get things done.


You can find more about the Freer and Sackler Gallery

Internship Programs HERE


This article was written by Rebekah Pineda.