If you are an art school student or recent graduate, obtaining an internship in the art field is a great opportunity to dip your toes in the professional world. A gallery internship in particular provides opportunities for aspiring fine artists, curators, or arts administrators to get hands-on experience and helpful skills for the future.
Who – Ask for help
If you are a student, take advantage of your resources. Speak to your advisor and professors and inquire about any local internships they may know of. You may be surprised how connected the art scene in your area may be!
What – Money vs. Experience
When looking around for an internship, make sure the one you choose provides payment – either in monetary form or through school credit. Some may argue that it is acceptable for an internship to solely compensate you with real-world experience, however, you may find yourself doing similar work to actual employees, so make sure you are getting paid for your time. Even if an internship can only pay you in school credit, it is a great alternative to no payment at all and it will save you time in the long run.
When – Timing is key!
Plan ahead for your internship at least a semester in advance. In most cases, there is a small window of opportunity to apply, so make sure you’ve done your homework so you’re not caught putting together a sloppy, last minute application or worse - missing the application deadline altogether! Reach out to the hiring manager of your desired internship. If they are hiring now, great! If not, ask when. Many galleries and museums follow the schedule of universities, hiring fall, spring, and summer interns. So for example, if you are planning to have an internship in the spring, start your search in the fall. Overall, preparation and good timing are essential!
Where –From social media to the streets
In the beginning of your internship search, look online everywhere, from your school’s website to even more alternative options such as a gallery’s Facebook or Twitter page. Though the latter options may sound peculiar, social media plays a large role in businesses to provide up-to-date news to the public. You’ll never know what you’ll find unless you look. Also, take your search to the streets – pop into your local galleries and search for the ones that showcase work you are interested in. This is the best way to see if a gallery fits your aesthetic and it is a great chance to talk to gallery directors themselves about their internship programs.
Why – Is it worth it?
Why have a gallery internship to begin with? For aspiring fine artists, it will give you a better understanding of the artist-gallery relationship for when you will want to show work in a gallery yourself. You’ll also get opportunities to work with other artists and meet inspiring people in your desired field – what more could you ask for? For those of you who are interested in curatorial duties or administration, you’ll be able to work behind the scenes yourself and see what it takes to put an exhibit in action.
We hope this guide gave you a better understanding of how to start your internship journey. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 to learn how to nail an interview and how to get the most out of your internship once you’ve started!