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A Step Beyond the Studio and Into the Workplace: Marwen’s Summer Intern Program

Updated: Sep 12, 2018

During the summer of 2018, eighteen Chicago high school juniors and seniors were hired to intern with seventeen professional arts organizations and creative businesses throughout the city as part of Marwen’s Art at Work program.

Art at Work is a 20-year-old program developed by Marwen’s College, Career, & Alumni team, who are dedicated to helping students and families transition to high school, college, or the workforce. The program includes five-week paid internships and career development workshops giving students professional experience with Chicago’s premiere art institutions and creative firms, as well as opportunities to gain valuable and transferable skills.

During the development workshops, students worked on resumes, learned to set up a bank account, and practiced financial responsibility and public speaking. The final workshop component of the program, managed by Sarah Atlas, Interim Director of Education, included student presentations on what they learned in their respective internships, delivered to an audience of Marwen students, alumni, teaching artists, staff, and industry professionals.

Sarah shared during the culminating presentation why Art at Work is one of Marwen’s treasured gems. As she thanked the audience for supporting the students’ accomplishments, she reflected on all the the hard work the students did.

“I am so proud of you guys. It was just so much fun to work with you over the summer [and] I learned a lot from you,” Atlas said to the students. “We talked about being honest, being courageous, taking risks, being vulnerable and being on time. But more importantly, we talked about all the different ways — as the people that you are — can bring your own expertise into learning spaces.”

“I deeply believe in paying artists, and I deeply believe that creativity should be valued. So, thank you for the people that make that happen,” Atlas said.

One of the students, Aileen C., interned at Spudnik Press, a community-based art center that provides printmaking facilities and services to artists. Aileen is interning at Spudnik Press again this fall, and then she’ll attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in the spring of 2019.

“Being in a professional setting really helps for future jobs and more internships to come. And I think it’s really good for most of the kids who are seniors and going off to college, especially for people going into art like I am. I’m proud I was able to make connections and meet amazing people, like my supervisor who started Spudnik. She just started in her basement and was able to rent out her space to allow people to print, and now it's just this big company. Just being able to know someone who did that really helps you push forward and helps you get to have that sense that you could do that too.”

Other students also shared their internship experiences.

Elijah B.

Class of 2018

Interned at Guerrero Media, a media company that helps executives and entrepreneurs tell their stories through different mediums.

“I learned professionalism, but most importantly communication. When you're in a professional environment, you're constantly communicating, giving each other feedback, telling each other what to do and what not to do to make your ideas and your projects better than they are. I'm proud of my final project, because it was what I wanted to do and my team was very supportive, they were always there to help me out. My supervisor would always give me advice, sit next to me and tell me what to do with photoshop programs.”

Elijah is attending Columbia College Chicago this fall.

Karen M.

Class of 2019

Interned at UIC Latino Cultural Center, a center dedicated to expanding community knowledge about Latinx culture, heritage, and social and environmental justice.

“I got an inside look into the workforce, because as an artist you really don't know what to expect until you get there. It was fun getting to know everyone who was into similar things as me, because sometimes you're the only one into art at school or anywhere. I learned that when I go into the workforce, I want to do something hands on instead of office work, because the first two weeks I was doing office work and it wasn't as enjoyable as the other three weeks where it was hands-on drawing or painting.”

Josue H.

Class of 2019

Interned at Magnolia Screenprint, a screenprinting company dedicated to teaching and hiring Chicago’s youth the art and business of screen printing.

“I'm proud that I was able to do this video project for them. They wanted to submit a video project for why they're best for winning this screen printing press, and I did the whole video and I liked the way it came out. Even though I'm a photographer and didn't know much about videography, this experience taught me how to edit down videos. They taught me how to make a print on a screen, and even how to make my own at home.”

Zion M.

Class of 2019

Interned at 3ARTS, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities who work in the performing, teaching, and visual arts.

“I learned about professional development, and how to talk to adults better, and just knowing what to wear and how to wear it when you want to present yourself, so that they really understand that you're ready to take on the adult world. I'm proud that I was still able to incorporate my own style, my personality and clothing attire, and combine that into a professional job area.”

Davita M.

Class of 2019

Interned at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, a college art museum dedicated to photography and cultivating a deeper understanding of the artistic, cultural and political roles of photography in the world.

“I learned archival work, how to really just take proper care of the images there, and a lot of professionalism. I also learned a bit of graphic design and behind the scenes of how a museum is run. I'm really proud that me and another intern there created this program for the museum called Teen Nights, where teens just came into the museum, they made buttons, they made zines and all that fun stuff.”

Kameron P.

Class of 2018

Interned at Robin Richman Boutique, a specialty boutique with gallery displays of clothing, accessories and art objects.

“I learned how to take inventory. Every other day we'd get new inventory and I'd have to scan in all the labels, label everything, and set it up accordingly in the store. I'm proud that I got to display my collection at the store, and sell my stuff there.”

Kameron is attending the Fashion Institute of Technology this fall.

Sophia Lopez

Class of 2018

Interned at Hoofprint, a printmaking studio that uses lithography, relief, etching and screenprinting to create opportunities for artists to work traditionally or experimentally.

“My favorite thing was that there was a lot of work; we were always busy, we were always doing something. Whether it was actual art or just running the print shop and doing the behind the scenes stuff that most people don't see when they take a class. I'm really proud that I designed a shirt and printed it.”

Sophia is attending University of Chicago this fall.

Sophia C.

Class of 2018

Interned at Gallery 400, a gallery that displays contemporary art, architecture, and design through exhibitions and programs.

“I learned how research is applicable in an artistic field, and I was proud that I got to learn how a gallery works in all of the different ways that it works. I worked with all the different teams and got to try all types of things.”

Emily B.

Class of 2018

Interned at Chicago Children's Museum, which aims to improve children’s lives by creating a playful and learning community through exhibitions, activities and educational content.

“I learned that teamwork and communication was number one. I learned that I wouldn't mind doing art education later on in my career path. I'm proud that I got to work with kids and see how their imagination would work with different materials.”

Emily is attending Columbia College Chicago this fall.

Lizbeth R.

Class of 2018

Interned at Latitude, a nonprofit organization that provides scanning and printing equipment for artists.

“I learned that you need a lot of collaboration to run a place. I was proud that at the end I got to work on my own project, to create profiles they were using, and I got a lot of freedom to use equipment.”

Lizbeth is attending Harold Washington College this fall.

Aisha H.

Class of 2019

Interned at Chicago Children's Theater, a professional theater dedicated to creating productions and programs for Chicago children and families.

“I've learned how to build connections and be very precise [with] what I do, and just enjoy the craft. I learned that you can't rush a project, it takes time and a lot of effort. I'm proud of getting out of my comfort zone.”

For more information about Art at Work and other student and alumni opportunities, visit Marwen’s College, Career, & Alumni page on our main website.

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