Intern. The word alone strikes fear into the hearts of many—from the most seasoned professional to the hungry high school student wishing to gain experience. Nightmarish legends of supervisors that transform budding young professionals into ditch diggers, or of slacker interns whose apathy will be the downfall of society are commonplace. No matter how many of these horror stories are tall tales in actuality, the basic principle behind them remains: at the end of the internship, one party’s experience with the other was poor. Sometimes, no matter how hard the intern works or how generous the supervisor is, this outcome is inevitable. Even in these cases, there are a few fundamental rules to help maximize a marginalized experience.
The “starving artist” cliché exists for a reason: no matter what kind of artist you are—actor, writer, painter, singer, photographer, dancer, etc.—earning a living is a struggle. Regardless of your talent and experience, which school you attended, or where you took an apprenticeship or internship, you will have to market yourself in order to sell your art. In fact, self-promotion is perhaps the most important way to turn your artistic passion into a full-fledged career. Thankfully the Internet has made it easier than ever to bring attention to your art form, if you know how to use it to your advantage.
I love reading about how people make choices, define what success is, and commit to something in life that is meaningful. Sometimes what you really want is not what will make the most money, but what fulfills you. What if you have always wanted to create art as a professional or teach art? Do you ignore those dreams in pursuit of monetary success? How many people can really devote all their time and energy to the creative process and actually pay the bills? Are they considered less successful?
Depressed by the current job market? Used to waiting in long lines for hours to get a three minute audition with a prospective employer? Enjoy performing your patented “401k rant” in front of family, friends and complete strangers—sometimes for money, or at least a free meal? If the answers are “yes”, you need to understand the pros and cons of membership as well as how to attain Equity status if you choose to follow that course.