By Mariane Gutierrez
As social distancing rules forced in-person campus operations to shut down, internships adapted to the new circumstances by offering students work experience in a virtual environment.
Studio Art junior Ann Marie Young began an internship for ArtStartArt, a fine art marketplace for university students transitioned into a newsletter format in the spring semester after the pandemic hit. Young’s roles evolved from talking with
university-level art students around the country about selling their work before they graduate to researching and identifying individuals connected to the arts who might serve as investors for the website.
“Prior to the pandemic, I would go into the ArtStartArt office in East Austin a few times a week,” Young said. “But once my internship moved online, we maintained connection through weekly phone calls and Zoom meetings. Since most of my work was already being done online, this was not a huge setback for anybody.”
Young said switching to a purely remote internship helped her transition quicker to life online, and she adapted to taking classes and talking to professors. To avoid the monotonous routine of sitting in front of a computer, Young said she would move to different spots around her house and spoke with business professionals about their shared interests in art.
“I was able to adjust and remain motivated to my internship in an online format by constantly switching things up,” Young said. “It was nice to see that people still wanted to connect with each other and were open to having conversations.”
Laurel Brown, a first year graduate student in the Masters rogram in Art History, interned for Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought, a contemporary art center in New Orleans, during the summer. Because the internship was fully remote from the start, Brown said she was able to set her own schedule and structure her time in ways that worked for her.
“We mostly relied on phone calls to connect, which I appreciated because they didn’t add to my screen time,” Brown said. “It felt very different getting to know new colleagues from far away, but I was honestly surprised that I still felt connected to colleagues and projects at all while working remotely.”
During this time, she was responsible for research, writing and completing administrative duties to support the institute’s website launch. By doing this, Brown gained experience in an online publishing platform and a new perspective on what creative work within the visual arts can look like.
“One large takeaway from this internship is the online publishing platform that Rivers has built,” Brown said. “The institute’s programming is not limited to in-person art exhibitions, and the website will be an integral hub where artists’ work will be featured in the form of essays, images, videos, conversations, playlists, links and beyond, allowing for worldwide interaction. Seeing this collaborative model come together has expanded my view of what curatorial work within the visual arts can encompass.”
Even though the circumstances for these kinds of experiences changed, students like Young and Brown were able to remain motivated and take advantage of what these organizations had to offer.
“Find an internship that you are going to be excited about,” Young said. “There are so many more opportunities out there waiting for you, so don't be afraid to reach out to organizations or companies.”