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Against the backdrop of the Great Resignation, art organizations have struggled to source the right talent for their teams.

Among the different types of employment relationships, interns are a valuable asset for organizations to alleviate the shortage of talent. Moreover, by introducing diverse, young people into the daily work at arts organizations, we can make the sector more sustainable by creating a pipeline to permanent careers.

However, it is not always easy to start an internship program. First, and perhaps the most determining factor of whether to host interns, is how to fund the program. Offering unpaid internships is not palatable because it could greatly confine the opportunities to a small socioeconomic group. Here are some tips that can help inspire solutions for organizations to jumpstart their internship programs.

1.

Check out what career-placement programs exist at local universities. Some universities have funding programs to cover the expenses incurred by hiring interns in exchange for the educational value provided by the organizations. For example, University of Michigan’s Culture Corps pays the student interns on the behalf of the host organization. Several of our members- Living Arts, InsideOut, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Public Theatre, Arab American National Museum- including CultureSource piloted this UM initiative.

2.

Post your jobs on career center websites. Besides securing financial support from educational institutions, they can also help you to introduce your brand to young talents. Many educational institutions have invited employers to post internships and jobs on their career center websites. Michigan State University Career Services Network and University of Michigan’s Opportunity Hub are two examples. Check out this guide for more information on how to achieve a strong presence among college students.

When creating your internship program:

Outline the responsibilities

Young people are sometimes intimidated by the task of finding an internship because they are unsure about where and how to look for opportunities. Even if they do find something interesting, they would worry that they do not meet the qualifications. Having a clear job description lets students know if they should proceed with an application. And don’t forget to include information about eligibility for international students and individuals with disabilities.

Find the right application window

Time commitments can be a dealbreaker for full time students, so determine when to open and close your application based on when you want your intern to start. For example, if you want to hire a summer intern starting in mid-May, it is better not to wait until after February to spread the word. If your organization wants to be competitive, especially when your desired intern might also look for internships in other industries, start accepting applications early. If your internships are open to international students, ensure the application window provides enough time for them to secure work authorization from their school, which can take up to three weeks.

Let interns know that you will support their career in the arts sector

If you want more one-on-one support about incorporating elements such as workplace inclusion and intellectual growth into your internship program, feel free to schedule a consultation (free for CultureSource members) with Team Dynamics. With nurturing from the arts professionals, interns can find a beam of light guiding them to enter their dream field—Helping sustain our sector in the long run.

Illustrated image of Cynthia Li


Cynthia Li

Summer Programs Intern

Graphics by Yen Azzaro and pch.vector.

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