Wait, Interns Aren’t Here For Us?

I always love it when Joe Patti doesn’t hold back on a topic and he really opened up on one near and dear to me: predatory arts org internships.

He examines an internship environment that was so caustic, it caught the attention of the L.A. Times and he brought everything together in the best possible way:

As business journals try to analyze the motivations behind the current Great Resignation, it would behoove the theater world to note that people have left jobs that were far less onerous than the internship/apprenticeship conditions that exist. If any sector needs to change their business model quickly to respond to the times, it is arts and culture. These practices were never the most constructive element in the career pathway in the best of times, it would be surprising if they remain viable at all going forward.

Arts and culture degrees are already stupid expensive with depressingly low placement rates, so the entire notion of a paid internship has always seemed wrong to me. The summer before the pandemic, I started an internship program for software engineers that focuses heavily on mentorship and the thought of making it something they must apply for never entered the picture. In fact, it became clear very early on that if we wanted to attract exceptionally promising talent, it meant offering at least $45/hr and sticking the mentorship landing.

Go give Joe’s article a read, you’ll be glad you did.

How Much More Tolerance Left For Crushing Summer Internship As Career Starter

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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