“What made you want to intern with us?” was the first question Center Theatre Group staff members tended to ask me when I introduced myself as the Bank of America intern.
Truthfully, I knew nothing about theatre as a recent high school graduate; I had never seen a professional play before. The Bank of America Student Leaders program selects groups of five students from major branches (markets) across the country, and assigns them to different nonprofits based on the organizations’ proximity to their homes. The program lasts for eight weeks, which includes seven weeks interning at a nonprofit and a one week, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. where we participated in workshops, heard guest speakers, and did some sight-seeing.
Before the program started, I was skeptical and even a bit unenthusiastic about being placed at a theatre company. I aimed to pursue a career in business administration, and my tunnel vision prevented me from seeing the value of an arts internship.
Ultimately, the choice to intern at Center Theatre Group was not mine to make, but I’m so grateful that it’s where I landed.
At our first meeting, CTG Educational Programs Manager Camille Schenkkan (the most welcoming/kind/considerate supervisor ever) shared with me the structure of my internship. I would spend time in multiple departments of the company such as marketing, development, artistic, management, and production, exploring different interests, and my home base would be with her in education.
Through this “sampler-platter” internship I learned more about myself in eight weeks than I did throughout my entire high school career. It was exactly what I needed before diving into college.
The ability to observe and be a part of workplace culture has made me realize the type of environment I enjoy working in, what kind of people I want to spend time with, and what sort of company I want to dedicate myself to. I once believed that it’d be OK for me to be unsatisfied at my future job for five days a week in order to enjoy myself on the weekends. But the staff members I worked with in every department exemplified how I could pursue my passions in the workplace.
Even though I could be described as a “high-achieving” high school student, I discovered that the required skillset is completely different from academics to work. I came into the internship without any professional work experience; even the idea of working an industrial copier and causing a paper jam made me a little anxious. I felt small compared to the other interns at CTG (who are separate from the Bank of America program). They were for the most part already in college, and they were extremely knowledgeable about theatre. I was also intimidated by being surrounded by some of the most experienced and respected individuals in the theatre profession. At the same time, their words of encouragement gave me the confidence I needed during my transition from high school to UC Berkeley. My time at CTG taught me that I possess the skills to be successful; I just lacked the courage to admit to myself that I was capable.
So I wasn’t born to be on the stage, but I’ve come to deeply appreciate and love the many minds and strings behind the curtain. What I will miss most about Center Theatre Group are the people; without them, I wouldn’t have been able to watch my first play, experience backstage tours, or find the power in my voice and opinions. I’d like to extend my utmost gratitude to all of the individuals who created the inviting, educational, and nurturing environment at CTG. On June 8, 2015 I arrived as just a Bank of America intern, but I left in August as a CTG fan.
Visit the CenterTheatreGroup.org/Internships to learn more about available internship opportunities.