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Intern: Steph Carlson
Major(s): History and Theater
Title: Theater Intern
Place of Internship: Wilton's Music Hall, London, England
How did you find out about the internship and what was the application process?
As part of the London study abroad program, students are given the opportunity to have an internship in a field relating to their major/minor or interests. The Foundation for International Education partners with businesses, theaters, museums, and nonprofits to find the perfect match for students interested in the internship program. We had to submit cover letters and CVs to the staff at FIE, and then they identified sites where they thought we would be most compatible.
What are some of the highlights?
I got to work the press night/premier of the play Britannicus that Wilton's produced, which was a fantastic experience for me. I had a lot of responsibility that night and had to do everything right so that the press didn't have a negative experience, which wouldn't have been beneficial to the play. The crumbly nature of the building was something I enjoyed, especially once I realized that Wilton's is in a lot of movies, TV shows, and music videos. I even got to ride on a motorcycle through London with the Technical Director, which was a brilliant way to see the city.
What was a "typical day" like? What were some of your major responsibilities?
My main responsibility was running the box office and answering phone calls. Because Wilton's is a non-profit organization and is currently raising money to save their building, they are understaffed; so it was my job to fill in the holes and complete the smaller, more time-consuming tasks. I had to organize their Friends list and files, send out newsletters, and of course, make tea!
What did you learn?
Not only did I learn how to make the perfect cup of tea, I also learned about the cultural differences between the UK and the US in the workplace. The Europeans have a much more relaxed attitude towards work, not making careers the reason they live. They still get all of their work done on time, but they don't let it dictate their lives, which was a pleasant change of pace for me. I also learned about the challenges theaters and other businesses in the arts face as their funding is cut; they have to find new ways to cover the cost of productions, advertising, and repairs.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
My favorite part was getting to know the staff! The majority of the staff came from England and London, but my supervisor was from New Zealand and the Technical Director was Italian. There were a few other volunteers at the theater, and working with them gave me the opportunity to discuss the issues covered in the British culture course our group took, as well as hearing their stories of running into Jude Law and other celebrities at the National Theatre.
What were some of the challenges of your internship?
One of the biggest challenges for me was seeing myself as a colleague at the theater and not a student intern. I had to learn the information about the theater that the public would generally ask about and had to be able to answer any questions people had without seeking out my supervisor each time. The other big challenge for me was picking up on the accents on the phone, because I had to be able to enter names, addresses, and credit card information into the box office program.
What advice would you give other students interested in internships?
I would say to do one in a field that interests you. Before doing my internship, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. And although I am still in that position, I learned that I could see myself working on the business side of theater, something I never would have considered prior to my internship. You also develop professional relationships with the people you will work with, and they will be great references in the future. I was able to become friends with the staff at Wilton's, so I have connections in London for when I have the opportunity to return. The internship office at CSB is a great resource for students looking for internships, so I would utilize their website and services as well.