Ask anyone on staff – there’s something uncommonly inspiring and fulfilling about working at Wolf Trap. This is reflected in the number of former interns who currently work at Wolf Trap (12) and the number of former employees who were also once interns (21). What is it about this place that drew them back? How did their intern experiences affect them professionally and personally? We asked five current employees to share their stories. Here’s the first of two installments!
What is your position at Wolf Trap now? Assistant, Program & Production
What was your intern position at Wolf Trap? Intern, Program & Production. In short I was in charge of advancing Artist transportation and supervising hospitality and transportation on my assigned performance days.
Where did your career take you in between your internship and your full-time job at Wolf Trap?
I interned at Wolf Trap in the summer of 2009 after which I returned to school to finish my final year of undergrad at the University of Richmond. Post-commencement 2010 I packed up my Volkswagen station wagon and drove across the country with the intention of moving to Portland, Oregon. Clearly things didn’t work out the way I had envisioned.
I remember my east coast departure with utmost clarity. It was summer and I had stopped at Wolf Trap to say hello/goodbye to the Program & Production department before heading out west. Ann McKee (Senior Vice President, Performing Arts & Education), in her infinite wisdom, jokingly said to me, “You know, the road across the country is roundtrip. It goes in a circle!” I laughed. But apparently she wasn’t kidding. It was not but a few months after signing a lease in Portland, buying furniture, and ceremoniously removing the last box of “stuff” from my VW that I found myself packing it all up again, and heading back toward the Atlantic. Back to Wolf Trap.
What led you back to Wolf Trap/made you stay at Wolf Trap?
Barbara Parker (Director, Operations & Artistic Initiatives) and Ann McKee put a big sign at the end of Interstate 84 that read “Turn Around! Wrong Way!” so I pulled a U-turn.
But honestly, when asked if I would consider driving back to take a job in Program & Production, my answer was unequivocally “yes.” In applying for jobs and interviewing in Oregon, it dawned on me how rare it is to be able to work in a place with a staff as team oriented and supportive as Wolf Trap’s. Wolf Trap exists as a mission-based organization. The Wolf Trap Mission is what keeps us all on our toes and looking for new ways to develop, refine, and grow with the community. It truly is something you don’t come across every day.
What is your position at Wolf Trap now?
I am currently the Communications & Marketing assistant. I help support the overall C&M team with marketing, public relations, and creative (writing, graphic design, etc.). I also work with our Communications & Marketing committee and our Foundation Board of Directors to help plan and execute meetings for both groups to discuss the high-level goals and strategies for the Foundation.
When did you intern at Wolf Trap and what was your position?
I interned at Wolf Trap during the spring of 2009 (my last semester at college). I applied for the Advertising/Group Sales and Marketing internships and ended up getting both! I had a retail background with a communications major, so they figured I would be a good fit for both and I was able to do each. I worked 3 days a week and split my time with one supervisor each day.
How did the skills you learned while interning help you get your current position?
They definitely translated more than I thought at the time. I originally was interested in sales as well as marketing because it was what I was used to doing, but I eventually learned that sales just wasn’t where I wanted to end up and I enjoyed the marketing/PR aspect more. Regardless though, working in a more corporate sales environment (vs. retail) really enhanced my communications, thinking outside the box, and problem-solving skills, which obviously carries over to just about every aspect of your life.
What is the biggest difference between being an intern and being a part of full-time staff?
At Wolf Trap? Not much, but in a good way. Both interns and staff are given legitimate projects to work on or even spearhead, and we ask everyone at every level for input when it comes to brainstorming or coming up with a campaign, angle, or hook. You don’t need to be an expert to be able to contribute ideas on something. Being a full-time staff member gives you a heightened amount of responsibility because you’ll be here year-round and can take over a longer project that needs to be attended to regularly, but as an intern, you won’t be getting anyone coffee or running personal errands.
What advice do you have for searching for the perfect internship?
1) Apply for anything that even LOOKS interesting—the worst thing that could happen is getting multiple offers and having to decide between 2 or more, which really isn’t so bad. If you go for something and don’t get it, then you’re no worse off than if you hadn’t applied. And if you had an interview, then at least you got a little experience from that!
2) Do more than one internship throughout your college life. Most places will consider you after just a year of school, so you have plenty of summers (or even falls and springs) to work full-time between semesters or part-time between classes. The more well-rounded you look when you get that diploma, the better.
3) Use your connections! I didn’t know Wolf Trap even had an internship program until I posted on Facebook that I was looking for suggestions on places to apply. A friend of a friend (now a good friend) was the copywriting intern a few years prior and mentioned they have a lot of different internships available throughout the year, so I went for it. I would have never known the opportunity even existed unless I threw out a request for suggestions. Another great source is friends of your parents—there’s a great chance that not only do they work somewhere that hires interns, but they can recommend you for it and put you at the top of the pile.