Job-Ready Intern

Caroline Shanley

Caroline Shanley

Public Relations and Strategic Communication, Political Science

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

What was the most exciting thing about your role? 

Nothing quite beats getting able to walk into a large art museum every single day as a staff member. I can walk through exhibitions during my lunch breaks, talk to artists and celebrities if they're here, and be behind the scenes of a major institution in the city. I am fascinated by art history and the significance of contemporary art, so being able to live in the city and work at such a marvelous place is truly a dream come true. Plus, the work I'm doing with the Development Department makes a real impact on the day-to-day operations of the museum, and even the acquisition and arrangement of piece themselves. I just really feel like I am part of what makes the museum so impactful and what keeps it moving every single day. 

What surprised you most about your internship? 

I have been most surprised by the array of tasks that go into Development as a whole. Most people think that my department just works to appease a bunch of rich people. However, our work is far more nuanced and includes a range of tasks that every individual is responsible for. Behind the writing and creative tasks lies a lot of data entry and management, as we have to constantly update our programs and spreadsheets with new amounts that donors give, changes in their contact information, and other seemingly small details. This combination, of both data input and challenging writing tasks, makes my day-to-day work ever-changing and exciting. It has also helped me appreciate philanthropic giving as a whole, as I've gotten to interact with many of our museum's trustees and major donors. 

How did you apply your Liberal Arts-skills to your internship position?

The central tenet of Liberal Arts is flexibility, meaning having a variety of skills across disciplines. Because I have received such an all-around education through my Liberal Art courses, I have adjusted quite easily to having many different tasks on any given day. I would definitely agree that writing and communication skills are the most key, the fact that I have written everything from formal research papers to press releases has allowed me to excel at any project handed to me. Whether it be a large report on an exhibition or an acknowledgment letter to a donor, I have no issue writing something well. There are parts of my job that are more data driven as well, which Liberal Arts has thoroughly prepared me for. Learning about coding and statistics in my POL 300 (Political Science Methodology) has given me the confidence to take the lead on those types of projects as well. Finally, because many of my classes have equipped me with critical thinking skills, I'm confident with talking to my supervisor, suggesting edits on projects, and speaking up during department-wide meetings. All in all, Liberal Arts skills equip me with the knowledge and capabilities to take control of my internship, allowing me the best real learning experience possible. 

How has your internship prepared you for your career? 

My internship has solidified my interest in a career in cultural nonprofit organizations, particularly art museums. Last summer, I had the opportunity to use Job-Ready funds for my first museum internship, at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Because of my time there, I realized how much I enjoyed working in a nonprofit environment. My work in the Development Department this summer has given me tangible and meaningful experiences into what a real career would be like in this field. It has helped me discover that I love working in Development, compared to my work in the Marketing Department last summer. Not only am I learning by doing (or writing in my case), but I'm getting fantastic pieces for my portfolio that will help advance me towards my aspirations in future years. As a rising junior, it is becoming ever important that I have robust opportunities because I am preparing for more internships and graduate school. This internship at a well-regarded institution in a major American city has provided me with the chance to gain the credibility I will need moving forward professionally. 


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