Written by Sam Bontempo
No matter where you work, everyone experiences “the grind.” “The grind” is that moment when you feel like it is just another day at work, carrying out déjà vu tasks and watching the clock. If this sentiment continues, most decide it is time for a new job. What if I told you I had another solution? This solution results in keeping your current job, increasing productivity, and re-invigorating the enthusiasm and love you have for your organization.
The solution is INTERNS! I know this is not the solution you were thinking of. Most think of interns as creating more work for their supervisor, or free labor you can utilize for coffee runs. Although they can be both of those things, interns are future professionals in the making. They are students learning the latest innovations in the industry, and are highly motivated to forge a place for themselves in the world. Selecting the perfect intern can be a trial and error project. Once you identify the skill set you need them to possess and the limits for what you are willing to teach based on time and resources, the possibilities for success are exponential for both parties. When given the opportunity interns not only complete those déjà vu tasks, but their enthusiasm and constant inquiry leads to bettering programs and giving you an opportunity to fulfill the dream projects you have always placed on the back burner. Explaining everyday why each task is important and why your department is necessary helps remind you why you took the job in the first place.
At the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) our secret weapon is interns. Being a non-profit art institution with a small staff, it is not only cost-effective to have an internship program, but has proven to be a constant resource for fresh perspective and a great way to evaluate potential for future employees. Currently 5 of 11 UMOCA employees started out as a volunteer or intern for the museum. I am one of them. I started out as an art history student dying to learn about the real world of art and museums, when I was accepted for a visitor services internship at UMOCA. Now one of my many hats at the museum is finding and hiring those exceptional students who can assist the museum in its mission of displaying cutting-edge exhibitions and educating the public on contemporary art practices.
When interns ecstatically share with me what they are learning and thank me for the opportunity to intern with such a great organization, somehow my job seems a little less stressful or monotonous. It is a civic and professional responsibility to educate the future, but the education is mutually received. So, before you look for that new job, try hiring an intern. You might be pleasantly surprised by the result.