Internships are a great way for college students to become more experienced in the work environment and learn a lot about an organization while on the job. It is also a great way to meet new people and gain experience to become prepared for the future. I was lucky enough to intern for the Art League of Ocean City during my winter break. The Art League is a nonprofit organization that brings the community together and gives anyone an opportunity to be an artist, and it offers many opportunities for volunteers and interns.
The Art League’s mission is “To promote the visual arts in the Ocean City area through education, exhibits, scholarships, programs and community art events.” The vision statement is “To be a vibrant, fiscally sound arts organization with community sponsorship and service and valued membership benefits, offered in a spacious and functional facility.”
My experience at the Art League was positive. As an almost graduate of Salisbury University I do worry about where I will be after college and how I am going to get a job. I had no pre-conceived expectations going into the job. I just wanted to meet new people and try new things.
The work environment was very warm and welcoming. Being surrounded by wonderful artwork added an encouraging feeling as well. All the walls were covered in beautiful artwork that would grab anyone’s attention. Each piece of artwork displayed had a personality and a story. There is a certain calming feeling one gets when entering the Art League. The first time I entered the gallery I knew I wanted to be a part of it, weather it was to volunteer, be an intern, an artist, or work there.
Although I was not working at the gallery for the long, the internship did prepare me for what it would be like to work for a nonprofit organization, how to handle in the moment work situations, communicate well with others, and many other work related situations.
Rina Thaler said that the internship and volunteer program at the Art League is beneficial to one’s future. She recalls starting out as a volunteer here and developing a passion for the organization.
“The Art League is more than the paintings we hang on the wall. There is so much more of what we do that involves community partnership and other non-profit experiences,” Thaler said.
While I was working at the Art League I did notice how much community was involved there. There are people who come from Ocean City and farther just to take classes or be a part of an exhibit.
In the classes I observed how many of the people in the class knew each other and had a bond. It was nice to see how the Art League provides a place for art lovers to gather.
There were some days at the Art League that were slower than others, but the majority of the time I had something to help out with. I assisted the teachers in the art classes. My favorite was the Empty bowl class. The empty bowl class is a fundraiser where people make bowls and can attend a soup dinner. All the proceeds benefit the Art League and Diakonia. About 20 people can be in the class at a time, and the the project overall has become very popular.
I also worked at the front desk most days. Many people would ask me about the Art League if they had never been there. As time went on I became more comfortable answering questions and telling visitors more about the Art League. I was able to do a variety of tasks during my time there.
One of my favorite tasks was creating videos. I made a video at the January reception, interviewed several people, and asked them why art mattered to them. It was fun meeting new people and getting their different perspectives of why art mattered to them.
Thaler tries to have the interns do a little of everything during his/her time at the Art League to learn how to work on many tasks at once. “The best employers are able to multitask. Being an intern gives the person exposure to all different aspects of the organization such as management, board structure, admission and several different areas that can teach the intern to multitask on a daily basis,” she said.
Thaler said there is a big social aspect to being a volunteer or intern, and anyone who wants to help if they want.
A unique trait that the Art League has is the bond that most of the volunteers share with each other. I did notice how many of the volunteers knew each other and were friends. Some of the volunteers had been helping out for years and some just started. It was nice to be a part of it for a little bit. The Art League would not be what it is today without all the great volunteers.
“One of the reasons why the Art League has been such a great success is because of the committed volunteers. There are a lot of other community groups trying to copy our model,” Thaler said.
“It’s a part of belonging to and being a part of an organization, and in the interest of feeling good about what you’re volunteering for is bringing something unique and constructive to the community.”
Although my time working at the Art League was short, I am very thankful for the opportunity I had. It was a great way to get involved and help others while building my résumé. Everyone was very welcoming and I will miss them. I know every work experience prepares me for the next on, and I am ready to use what I learned in the future.