New internship scholarship creating opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ellen PiazzaAs an intern with Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater, Ellen Piazza is learning first-hand what it’s like to work at one of the local music industry’s most iconic venues.

“I am constantly handling different and unique projects, and I love working with so many different people who all love music,” said Piazza, a senior studying violin performance with the Butler School of Music.

But to take on this unpaid internship, the undergraduate had to say goodbye to her paid part-time job. Thanks to a new scholarship available to College of Fine Arts students, she was able to do so, and still support herself. For the first time, Fine Arts students are using scholarships specifically designed to support them during internships. Made available this semester, the scholarships will be available going forward in the fall, summer and spring.

“The intern scholarship has provided me with the financial stability to pay my bills. I could not be doing this internship without the scholarship and am forever grateful,” Piazza said.

The Meredith and Cornelia Long Internship Fund and the Becker Intern Scholarship are need-based scholarships that offer undergraduate and graduate fine arts majors the opportunity to professionalize their artistic and entrepreneurial ambitions. Students must demonstrate significant financial need to receive a scholarship and can receive up to $2,000 of funding to support their internship experience. Students who are traveling outside of Austin for their internship may apply for an additional $1,000 to use toward travel and lodging.

“Internships are not only a great way for students to gain experience, but also a great way for students to explore different professions within the arts, said Karen Munnelly, director of professional programs for the college. “These internship experiences can play a major role in obtaining a job after graduation. Many students work while they are in school, and that can make participating in an internship very challenging. The goal of the scholarship is to offset some of the financial burden students face and level the playing field, so that it is possible for them to do an internship.”

This semester five students received intern scholarships, and Munnelly said she’s eager to hear how it helped and see the program grow and expand. Internships not only give students valuable experience, but  the work also can allow students to narrow down their career choices.

“Finding the place in the arts world that is the right fit is very important,” she said. “Students also have the opportunity to apply concepts and theories they learned in the classroom to a real world setting. This work experience will make them much more competitive in the job market.”

Meet the scholarship recipients

Get to know three of this semester’s five scholarship recipients and the experience they are gaining through internships in Los Angeles and the Austin art and music scene.

Samantha Pavich, acting and performance senior

Sam PavichSamantha Pavich will graduate in May with a B.A. in Theatre and Dance, focusing in Acting and Performance. To reach her goals of becoming an actor and screenwriter, she is currently in Los Angeles, California, working at an internship and participating in the University of Texas Semester in Los Angeles Program (UTLA).

Can you tell us a little about where you’re interning?

I am interning at Echo Lake Entertainment, which is is a talent management and production company located in Beverly Hills. They are most known for having produced the film Nebraska, which was nominated for Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars.

How is your internship going so far? Anything you really like about it?

So far I really like my internship! Everyone is very friendly, and it's a great working environment. It's also great because I get to read a lot of scripts that are sent in, most of which are really interesting!

What have you learned through this internship?

I'm learning a lot about the development process of film and TV. I definitely feel like I'm getting an inside look into how films start getting made.

What are your goals after the internship?

My goals after my internship are to move out to Los Angeles permanently, and hopefully get my first job as an assistant at a company like Echo Lake. From there I plan to continue auditioning out here and also to keep working on my writing.

How has the intern scholarship from the College of Fine Arts benefited you?

The COFA scholarship has really made participating in the UTLA program possible for me.  Because of it I am able to save some money to make my move out to L.A. after graduation a reality.

Ellen Piazza, violin performance senior

Ellen PiazzaEllen Piazza is graduating in May with a B.M. in Violin Performance.  Aside from her current internship at the Moody Theater, Ellen is applying to entry-level music jobs, and she has applied to graduate school to continue her studies in music.

Can you tell me a little about where you’re interning?

I am interning with Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater. The theater hosts some of the biggest artists when they come to town. I work in the Business Development and the Sponsorships division under Kelly Mosser, Happy Mercado and Matt Blaesing.

How is your internship going so far? Anything you really like about it?

It is going extremely well.  It is a lot more interactive and hands-on than my internship last semester with the Texas Music Office at the Office of the Governor. I am constantly handling different and unique projects, and I love working with so many different people who all love music.

What have you learned through this internship?

I have learned that through performing music, I have gained skills such as organization, collaboration and a willingness to try new things, all of which has been extremely helpful in my internship.

What are your goals after the internship?

Since I am graduating in May, I am waiting to hear back from Boston University's College of Fine Arts, where I auditioned for the graduate music program. I am also in the process of applying to entry-level jobs around the country at venues, record labels, entertainment consulting firms and orchestras.

How has the intern scholarship from the College of Fine Arts benefited you?

Due to my heavy school and internship schedule, I am unable to work part-time during the week, compared to last year where I was working 20+ hours a week. The intern scholarship has provided me with the financial stability to pay my bills. I could not be doing this internship without the scholarship and am forever grateful.

Connor Walden, studio art senior

Connor WaldenConnor Walden is graduating in May with a B.A. in Studio Art, focusing in sculpture, and a B.B.A. in Marketing. He’s currently interning in the education department at The Contemporary Austin and is passionate about continuing a career in art.

Can you tell us a little about where you’re interning?

I’m working with The Contemporary Austin in their downtown location and their location at Laguna Gloria. I’m in the education department, and I work as the docents and tour intern. I work with the woman who is in charge of the docents and tours program, so I’ve been observing tours and learning from the docents there, and I’ve been observing the art classes they have there that are supplementary to their tours. I’ve also been writing and researching material to train docents.

How is your internship going so far? Anything you really like about it?

It’s going great so far. Overall it’s really great to work in a professional art environment and have an idea of what that would look like in the future. Everyone is so intellectually engaged in what’s going on and ready to talk about art.

What have you learned through this internship?

Yeah, I would say one thing. If I end up working with kids, this internship has been really good to observe how people interact with kids in a successful way. They’re very enthusiastic and energetic, and I had never worked with young kids before. It’s also been great to see how they brainstorm ideas within a group setting.

What are your goals after the internship?

My goal is to work in the art field one day, maybe in a museum or a gallery, but there is no set plan yet.

How has the intern scholarship from the College of Fine Arts benefited you?

All of the internships at The Contemporary Austin are unpaid, which was a barrier for me to working one of these internships. The scholarship allowed me to make the internship a viable option while I continue focusing on my studies at UT.