“This is perfect for my field, I’m ready to go with my career and MOCA equipped me for real life. At the end of the month I’m moving to Washington D.C. to intern for Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and will use the tools I learned here.”
One of her contacts has also lined her up to work on one of President Obama’s committee programs while she interns for Wilson in DC. “That’s the kind of opportunity MOCA made for me,” says Kassandra, a graduate of William H. Turner Technical Arts School in northwest Miami.
Sarah Noel, 17, a senior at Miami Central Senior, and Akim Desire, 18, a Florida International University architectural student, both credit their MOCA internships with boosting their communication skills.
“We usually go out into the community into businesses and try to get North Miami employers or residents to become members and we input their info on our website. At first I was shy, and didn’t like talking to people, but having to talk to business owners helped get me out of my shell,” Sarah says.
“I was a quiet person but I have to get out there and build up some confidence and can’t be shy,” Akim says. “This has been a confidence booster.”
Interning also provided a revealing look at his neighborhood, said the North Miami Beach Senior High grad.
“I didn’t know my city much before but now I’ve learned a lot about my city, seeing things I didn’t notice before — this store is there, I never noticed this boutique was here. You get to see the city, it’s been a good experience,” Akim says.
Prisca Alexis, 16, a junior at Turner Tech, found she had a knack for selling and knowing how to size up a potential client thanks to her MOCA internship experience this summer.
“Before, I thought it would be hard talking to people and trying to get them to become members but it’s easy once you know what to say and how to advertise.”
For instance, spot a mother in a hurry with her hands full with kids on a busy sidewalk? Perfect opportunity to pitch the museum’s summer camp for kids. “You look at body language and who they are,” Prisca explains.
Making the leap
Education Administrator Lisa Fernandez has been working with MOCA’s interns and volunteers for 15 years and has redoubled her efforts after hearing a story on NPR about students who graduate with arts degrees who find that they are the least employable.
“I found that appalling,” she said. “We really found a need for students to understand all the different types of careers that the arts can provide — from being an artist to conservation to preservation to design to administrative, which is a whole realm of opportunities. Students don’t always get the full understanding when they are in school.”
The demand is clearly there. This summer Fernandez said she posted about eight available positions for summer internships on www.Internships.com and received more than 100 responses. “The students really need the experience, they can’t find a job without some sort of experience. It’s been easy getting the students, difficult narrowing them down,” she says.
Fernandez looks for motivate students, as she aims to fill internships in the marketing, finance and grant writing departments. “I do an interview and pretty much get a good sense of how dedicated they would be, how motivated they are. We are looking for students who are self-motivated and really engaged in the arts. From there, I do a second interview with whomever will be their direct supervisor.
“We work with them to go on to the next step. We don’t want them to be an intern forever.”
Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.