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The Wolf Trap Opera's production of La boheme. Photography provided by Scott Suchman and Wolf Trap Opera.

The Wolf Trap Opera's production of "La boheme." Photography by Scott Suchman and Wolf Trap Opera.

Arts Administration Students Reflect on Summer Internships

CCM is partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s nationally ranked Lindner College of Business in one of the few MA/MBA graduate Arts Administration programs in the country. We train future CEOs and senior managers of nonprofit arts institutions by giving our students real world experience at local and national arts organizations.

In the past six years, 100% of arts administration graduates have found jobs in their field. Many go on to leadership positions in small and large organizations, while others launch their own nonprofits. In the summer between the first and second year, students work full time at summer internships in organizations all over the country.

Below, you can read reflections from two students who interned over the summer at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado and Wolf Trap Opera in Virginia.

Claire Jagla | CCM 2nd-year Graduate Student in Arts Administration

Arts Administration student Claire Jagla interned at the Aspen Music Festival and School this summer. Photo provided.

Arts Administration student Claire Jagla interned at the Aspen Music Festival and School this summer. Photo provided.

This summer, I served as the Assistant Program Administrator at the Aspen Opera Center in Aspen, Colorado. My responsibilities included scheduling opera rehearsals and then communicating the schedule and any changes to students and faculty. This sometimes involved coordinating 100 people in 200 to 300 events a week but I felt prepared for the task because of my first-year experience at CCM. I arrived in Aspen ready to put what I had learned into practice.

My job felt like working on the spoke of a wheel — though I could not always see the hub of the wheel while scheduling, every spoke needed to be strong in order for the program to roll. While the faculty and students appreciated sound scheduling, the true reward of the summer was watching the wheel finally spin as students embraced opportunities to perform. Attending an Aspen Opera Center production of La bohème was one of these wheel spinning moments. I had seen the opera before, but this production was particularly vibrant because of the student cast. Singers played characters their own ages, which is not common in opera. Their ages and maturity lent themselves beautifully to the production’s drama. As I sobbed through La bohème’s fourth act, I knew I had contributed to something special.

Working at a prestigious summer festival allowed me to gain insight into how an art organization runs smoothly and efficiently. The Aspen staff and faculty responded to the inevitable challenges and changes of a summer season with grace and calmness, which allowed for seamless performances and exceptional student experiences.

Eventually, I would like to start a non-profit organization that connects people with special needs to opera. In Aspen, I developed opera operations acumen and learned how to better communicate with artists and teachers, both of which will prove to be invaluable in my future as an arts leader. I left Aspen more graceful, more focused and ready for my second year at CCM.

Rachel Stanton | CCM 2nd-year Graduate Student in Arts Administration

Rachel Stanton. Photo courtesy of Steve Shin.

Rachel Stanton. Photo courtesy of Steve Shin.

This summer, I learned why Wolf Trap Opera has a reputation as one of the leading young artist programs the world and personally contributed to the culture that makes it so special. Becoming a part of the Wolf Trap team over the summer meant I was responsible for a variety of tasks including the creation of supertitles, setting up for pre-show talks and managing a recital at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.

The organizational culture at Wolf Trap Opera is centered on the concept of creating an environment where singers and artists can feel as comfortable as possible. Because of this, musicians are able to put their best work forward, audiences leave performances completely fulfilled and the administrative staff can leave the offices as if we had performed ourselves. One of the most memorable experiences of the summer was during the intermission of La bohème. When I emerged from the supertitles booth and began to make my way backstage, I passed through the audience of 6,000 and was able to catch snippets of praise about every aspect of the performance.

The internship program within the Wolf Trap Foundation led me to confirm many of the concepts that I’ve learned in the Arts Administration Program at CCM. With weekly seminars showcasing various department heads, I was able to observe how each department functions.

Not only did this help me to get a better sense of nonprofit organizations as a whole, but it also helped me to determine where I would like to see myself in the near future. Now that I’ve begun my second year at CCM, I feel more prepared than ever to take the next step of my career into Operations at an opera company.