4 ways interning at a non-profit supplemented my education

Sean Santhon, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre’s LA County Arts Commission summer intern, wrote the following blog post. Santhon majors in dance and political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Intern Sean Santhon clearly enjoys making sure our gala invitations get out on time!

Intern Sean Santhon clearly enjoys making sure our gala invitations get out on time!

  1. Expanding my career exploration
    While Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre has created site-specific dance performances for over 30 years, the office staff is still fairly small. With an average of six people in the office on any given day, whoever needs the most help will seek me out. My official title is “Development Intern” but the work I’ve done so far goes beyond that. I’ve helped with administrative work, created budgets, assisted with the Night Market production, edited flyers, helped finalize grants, and even took part in a workshop lead by an HDDT teaching artist. Working for an arts non-profit has afforded me the opportunity for direct involvement in the work of a production and challenged me to explore areas in which I wasn’t yet familiar.
  2. Learning more about the culture, history, and geography of Los Angeles
    Even after spending the four years of my college career at UCLA, it’s rare that I leave the Westwood Village bubble. In the short eight weeks of my internship at Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, I have seen more of Los Angeles than I have in my entire 120 (academic) weeks as a Bruin. The dance company’s site-specific nature has taken me everywhere from our office nestled in Beverly Hills, to the historic Central Wholesale Market downtown. I have had the opportunity to assist in events, performances, and workshops at Helm’s Bakery District in Culver City, Marsh Park alongside the Los Angeles River, and even a stop by the mayor’s office at Los Angeles City Hall.
  3. Developing new hard skills
    Non-profits require tangible skills. In our office these include, but are not limited to: finance, accounting, photography, videography, writing, graphic design, and web programming. Part of the mission of Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre is to “create innovative dance experiences” but that is not possible without the hard skills that propel the mission statement forward. I’ve helped draft a budget, and write gala invitations to high profile honorees for our annual Gala coming up in October. I’ve also photographed events for our social media accounts. All of these tasks have helped me explore the different elements that need to come together in order for the organization to thrive.
  4. Finding a natural fit in a professional environment
    The work I do makes a positive impact on the community. While most of my roommates grovel to the sound of their alarms in the morning, I happily jump out of bed. It is completely understandable that anyone working their first 9-5 internship might need time to come to terms with the reality that their summers will not always be filled with naps, the beach, and hours of downtime. Non-profits allow you to discover something even better. Knowing that all of my work at the office is helping create opportunities for art to engage and inspire individuals makes this one of the most fulfilling summers I have ever had.

Editor’s Note: Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre loved hosting Sean as our LACAC intern this summer. We wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors and hope we have the opportunity to work with him again soon!

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