Humanities and Fine Arts College hosts virtual internship fair

The virtual event was designed for Humanities and Fine Arts students

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Liza Flandreau, Collegian Correspondent

Every year, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (HFA) at the University of Massachusetts holds an internship fair for students. This year, due to the pandemic, it was held virtually. Approximately 85 students took the opportunity to sign up with about 21 employers, who conducted 15-minute interviews to get to know the students.

“Part of this fair is reaching out to artists and art organizations that have been incredibly impacted by the pandemic. We’re hoping to allow them to form connections so they can continue on with their work,” said Burns Maxey, a departmental assistant from the arts extension service from HFA.

“Having an online event is very different than having an in-person event, mostly because of the vast changes that happened this year. We have really had to motivate students and providers to get on board early on,” Maxey continued.

Dylan Larke, the director of student success and engagement for the HFA Advising and Career Center, did a lot of the ground work to get the word out by using the HFA Instagram page.

Paula Bouknight, the assistant managing editor of hiring and development at the Boston Globe, shared her thoughts on the new virtual recruiting experience.

“[The internship program] hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, yet, as I do my recruiting virtually… still, [recruiting] is definitely different as I don’t get to interview as many people…and the serendipity is missing, but I still take the same steps to reach out to students,” said Bouknight.

Whether the internship is in-person or not is still up in the air, but “that all depends on the pandemic… like anything else, we have to move forward as if life will return to some sense of normalcy,” Bouknight said.

Bouknight encourages students to “pursue internships and other professional opportunities whenever possible. Even though we’re in the midst of a pandemic, people have been finding creative ways to continue their education and involve students in organizations; the work didn’t go away with the coronavirus, and [employers] still need the help of smart young people.”

Tovya Goodwin, a senior counter cultural graphic design major working at Jabberwocky, the student-run undergraduate literary journal at UMass, gave insight to how the Jabberwocky is operating during the pandemic.

“We lack that interpersonal, face-to-face connection, but due to our publication coming out in the spring, we haven’t been adversely affected yet; however, we are worried about a lack of submissions,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin is thankful for the fair, as “the virtual internship fair is a nice substitute, but ideally we would love to conduct interviews in person… to see the characteristics of the applicants.”

Goodwin said that on the upside, “we are trying to include a singing/songwriting category if the publication will be online,” which is one way the Jabberwocky is adapting to its new environment.

The Springfield Museums was another employer present at the fair.

“[The coronavirus] has had an effect on how we run our internships, as most people are asking for virtual internships, but we are more than happy to make that happen as well,” said Karen Fisk, the director of marketing and communication strategy of the Springfield Museums.

The Springfield Museums run their internships by asking the students what they are looking to get out of their time, and then tailoring the internship around their interests and goals, according to Fisk.

“Students can do their research and work anywhere, so there are no problems with virtual internships as long as the students are meeting their goals and we are able to support them,” Fisk said. “Virtual internships are allowing students to work anywhere, so they should take advantage and find something that really interests them.”

Kelly Letourneau, the ESPA student services associate at Primary Stages, an off-Broadway theatre company whose mission is to support and nurture playwrights, also attended.

“This year has been a complete pivot from the ordinary, especially since we are launching a virtual theatrical season. Normally we have very specific internships, but this year we are looking for more of a marketing and developing intern to help with our new platform,” said Letourneau.

Despite the lack of in-person contact, Letourneau shared that “this fall [she is] hoping to find ways to incorporate an intern more holistically and introduce them to more of the company members.”

As for students looking for a theatrical internship, Letourneau has some advice: “Take this time to work on your resume and cover letter, as well as conduct research and watch theatre companies work online. This is a great time to get familiar with different companies and keep a list of who interests you.”

Letourneau said she wants everyone to know that companies are still looking for students because “once a theatre geek, always a theatre geek,” even in an online setting.

A list of dates and times for other UMass colleges’ individual internship fairs for students and employers is available here.

Liza Flandreau can be reached at [email protected]. Or followed on Twitter at @liza_flandreau