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A Sit Down with Scholars: Episode 5 “A Sit Down with an Arts Administration Student”

by | Oct 7, 2021 | Internships

This is a transcript of the podcast. Some changes may be made for grammatical errors or clarity.

Emily Ravet 0:08
Hi everyone this is Emily, the host of A Sit Down with Scholars. This is a podcast where we hear straight from present or previous interns, these interns sit down with me to share what skills it takes to be an intern, and what benefits they gain from their internship experiences. This is the fifth episode. In this episode, we hear from Dawry Ruiz. Dawry is a rising junior at the University of Wisconsin Madison have aspirations to go into arts administration post-graduation, he shares his internship experience, beginning at the age of 16 and up until now.

Dawry Ruiz 0:51
So my name is Dawry Ruiz. I’m an upcoming junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And, yeah, I’ve had multiple internships, mostly in the arts and art administration, but then also youth work.

Emily 1:10
So, what’s your major?

Dawry 1:12
My major is art history, but then I have certificates in public policy and teaching art.

Emily 1:19
Cool. And how did you choose that major?

Dawry 1:23
I chose it because when I came to UW, the original major that I wanted wasn’t available. And it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and then I just started talking with some upperclassmen, aka Noah Mapes. And he really got to be through it, and I kind of was really intrigued because I really like art. I like talking about art, I love history, and so here I am, an art history major.

Emily 1:56
And are you involved with any organizations on-campus?

Dawry 1:59
Yeah, so I’m working in development at the JVN Project, and then I’m also on the e-board for the Uprise Poetry Collective, and I’m part of the First Wave scholarship programs here. It’s a hip hop and urban arts scholarship, and then I’m attending currently my current intern. I worked for the Division of the Arts in two capacities. I’m the intern for their integrated media department. And so I worked there most. I weighed in The Studio, which was like another partner of ours. So I do a little bit of everything.

Emily 2:55
Okay, and how do those organizations impact your college experience of art?

Dawry 3:02
You know, I think being a part of multiple organizations, it’s like one, you get like a group of friends that you get to see consistently, which I think is really helpful and beneficial. Just having people, you can bond with over my common interest. But also, at least I’m like a capacity, it’s like interesting because like when I was in The Studio I kind of had like work friends. You know? It was like because everyone was around the same age or they were other college students.

But now that I got the promotion to the new Division of the Arts, it is really interesting because everyone’s like older. Like the full-time staff, they’re like actually work for the University. So I forgot the act is certainly a different way. It’s like, I have to be like, I’m kind of like their liaison for like student interaction and stuff like that. So it’s like, I feel way more professional and administrative which is what I wanted. I wanted more experience in arts administration when I’m like oh I have to act in a different way. It’s not like I can. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s an older group of people too.

Emily 4:11
Yeah, so that’s cool. And you kindly gave me introductions to all your internship so far. So what was the first internship that you had?

Dawry 4:21
Oh, my first internship ever was when I was 15. I was technically too young to get it, I was 14 turning 15. But, they made an exception because I was already involved in the organization. So, it was the summer after freshman year, I was 14 in 2015, and it was at this art organization in my neighborhood.

They were looking for a communications and development intern, and I had no experience whatsoever, but I was really involved in the organization before because I took a bunch of their programs. It’s like, you know, music programs and stuff like that. And I was just really interested in, like, how marketing in the arts works I was like, “oh I love making flyers I love like you know outreach, all that stuff”. And I think, you know, they finesse, they were like, “Yeah, you know, he’s probably 15.”

By the time I got hired, I was. It was just for one summer, and then after that, it continued for like, they rehired me through different like programs and stuff like that. But, I always worked in like communications and development until I branched out and started my own thing, as the program.

Emily 5:47
And I guess kind of already went over this but, so you first got that internship because you were already involved with the organization?

Dawry 5:55
Yeah, so I knew about it but I didn’t. I found out they were hiring because, so I was involved, and I stopped going out for a while because school got really intense. And then I was walking by one summer and I was like “oh like they’re hiring.” And like this was the thing that they did every summer it was this like program in Boston called MLK Scholars. They would hire like four or five people, like each person in the office, got an intern, and so like those were the people that you would work with. It was like a group of interns, and it was super cool.

There were different positions and stuff like that so I got to see like I got to work with other people in different positions and yeah so I found out about it and so that’s how I continued. That’s how I’ve continued to work every summer for two summers, and then they hired someone else. But I think it’s really cool because I found out that there were a lot of programs like that. So, it wasn’t the only internship I applied to that summer. It was just that was the most convenient one especially since I reviewed the organization.

Emily 7:01
Yeah, it’s also interesting because as I’m speaking to people, you can tell that, it’s definitely geographical on how early you get internships. Really, because, I mean, I had an internship my sophomore year of college. And then a senior year. I don’t think no, no, no I have like one unpaid internship but like in Green Bay like internships are a thing. I was like working food service jobs in the summer, which is fine but it’s it’s kind of like, I feel like speaking to like you, and then other guests, they are offered more in urban areas.

Dawry 7:39
Yeah no I did we get them in Boston. I had unpaid internships before, but they were way smaller. They were like you said, food service. There was a community center by my house. It would just be chilling with kids that would come to the community center and stuff like a front desk, nothing serious, you know, stuff that you could give a 14-year-old.

Emily 8:10
It’s funny. I mean I like hearing about internships, but it’s like you’re so young.

Dawry 8:12

Yeah, I was 14. Why am I in charge of seven-year-olds? I can barely take care of myself. But um, it was fine. That was just for summer stuff, a front desk job. If you know how to send an email, you’ll be fine.

And I think that’s like the go-to thing for me, especially early on, getting jobs like it was just sending in my application. Like, I got helped to apply to my person can shape like my first paid one. From my school, we had a guy who’s kind of started like hey, I need a resume, I’ve never made one before.

Dawry 8:54
Yeah, we had like professional development and stuff like that, like, the programs I was interning, they were like “we’re gonna get you into like careers.”

It was really beneficial especially applying to my internships this year, it was exactly what I needed. It’s the same thing, you need the resume, cover letter, references, all that stuff, and all that comes back and it’s beneficial.

Emily 9:26
So, I feel like at this point is kind of like when you’re applying to other internships, you get to like pick and choose, you know like yeah, like this internship what’s better for five years like you have the experience and you kind of get to tailor your resume.

Dawry 9:40
Yeah, so that’s what I do that for the first time. For this new internship in the Division of the Arts, and you know I had enough experience where I was like oh, like, I can’t really, I was like hey I thought this thing I did like three years ago or like the most recent thing or this, and I was like, well, they’re all beneficial experience for me too. So, it was the first time I got to do that and I was really proud of myself was like, “Hey, like you’ve got the experience.”

And I think once you get to that level, I feel like when I was doing it, it was not about what I think the Division of the Arts needed. It was what I want to market myself as because a lot of my experiences were like in that planning in communication like social media management, all that stuff, but I wanted to like the shape it to where I want it to be more administrative so I focus a lot more on like communications development internships, and like, obviously my past experience working in like, event planning and less about like teaching and less about like working with you, with you, so it was like a little bit more focused on the administrative side.

Emily 11:01
Yeah, that’s cool I feel like that’s a high level of a job search. You already got that under your belt.

Emily 11:10
You’re here. You’re rockin’ it. Yeah, so what would be the advice that you would give someone who’s looking for their first internship?

Dawry 11:19
Honestly, I feel like something I didn’t do as much but wish I did, was Google search, like internships near me. Everyone I knew had an internship and I was always surrounded by artists. I’d be interning at this organization but will do more than this and my partnerships with other organizations when I show up at the events.

It’s like basically all the same 10 friends that were all interning together that summer. So I think if I did more Google searches, I probably would not have as the one I was at. I probably would have gone to a different one. Just searching around, don’t be limited to just like your location. But also, if it’s your first internship, try to find something you like to do instead of trying to find what’s available. Obviously, it’s a little bit harder, depending on if there is any available.

But for me, I knew I wanted to work in the arts, and I’d like to work in the place that I have written for. So, I think that gave me a positive mindset looking in the future to other internships and like calm here now that I’m still working in arts administration. So I think if you get off on the right foot, it’ll kind of help you find a way too. It’s a better path in the future

Emily 12:58
the future. Yeah, no, that makes folks on to kind of set you up in the right direction that you want to go. I think it’s always possible to probably like to pivot, but, so it’s good to have more experience.

Dawry 13:12
Yeah, it also helped me pick my major. I knew a lot of friends who interned in museums and stuff like that, but I was like, “oh yeah like it’d be super fun to like working in a museum, and just like seeing how like arts and arts are involved in different ways.”

We did a lot of partnerships with different groups. So, I think also finding an internship that you’ll have the freedom to work with other people with like, even if it doesn’t pay well. There was this one internship that I had, it was like my junior year. It was unpaid, but I got to shadow someone at NPR. It was super cool because, at NPR, they were in like the middle of a period where like they were focusing a lot more on the art so I was like, “Okay perfect.”

It was unpaid and it was like once a week like we were just like, I’d hang out with this person. I’d be on the couch and we’re doing we’re going in the field today or like we’re going to be the office there, and it was super cool and like looking back like that’s a connection that I still have that’s like someone I can hit up like hey, like, what’s going on I hit them up to see if there are any internships at NPR like they are super cool to see. It’s so like, seeing how, what you do can be involved in different mediums too so like, whether it’s me going to NPR, or like me, partnering with someone in a museum and it’s always cool to see like what my meals are like what my skills can like affect other spaces too so

Emily 14:55
I like your options and like to see those options.

Dawry 15:10
Art work makes it so you can do many different things, and then you can be picky. Picky is something that I had to earn. Yeah, especially in the arts. In the first year, I did my internship, we were a pilot program for the thing that I would eventually be one of the founding members of. But like that I had to, we had to kind of fight for that. Like when we had when we were going to start the new thing, people were really skeptical because it was funding you had to find a partner from above. If you prove that you can work well in these different atmospheres in these different types of places, you’ll be creating your own opportunities as well.

Emily 15:56
Yeah. All right, thanks for sharing great knowledge about everything else. Is there anything else you want to share with us, that you would like to speak about internships?

Dawry 16:07
I think internships always get a bad rep, especially in the arts. Everyone’s like, what do you like, especially like growing up in a city where everyone is interning, like, it was very different for me was like, I didn’t realize everyone had an internship. I think what I’ve learned from, my time in high school is like, don’t be intimidated to take risks. I left my internship to start my own thing. And like with a couple of people that I knew I wanted to work with.

And sometimes you got to do an unpaid internship to get a position in the work field. So, it was my sophomore year, we had an opportunity to work with another organized opportunity to work with other organizations, and I started my own festival, my own music festival and that was unpaid. We didn’t get paid for it. I got to work with my best friend and it was super cool. And, as I knew going in, it was going to be a lot of work and we were still kind of transitioning out of the internship by my senior year, we did it for two years. It was like a weird time. We don’t know what we’re doing but, because we create, because we created this opportunity was super cool to just see how we could basically create our own views, no one was doing that, and then after we started doing it, everyone was doing it. Those types of things. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. It’s okay to do the unpaid internship.

Emily 18:20
Dawry was a fantastic guest. This weekend his internship experiences in high school, and now in college. If you have previous internship experiences and want to be a guest on this podcast, email me at emily@hirescholars.com.

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