Movement Matters

6 Aug

SarahinternphotoAfter 9 weeks at American Ballet Theatre, I can still vividly remember my first day, perhaps even down to the minute. I remember the icebreakers, the tour of the building, and meeting the staff members. I also remember my first official working day, stepping into the Metropolitan Opera House through the stage door and talking to donors during the Golden Circle Luncheon. I truly believe that my ability to reminisce about these days is a testament to how incredible the internship program is here at ABT. From the beginning, everyone involved in this fast-paced, mission driven organization was incredibly welcoming, taking the time to answer our questions and making us feel comfortable with our working environment. The people here make you want to remember every minute and experience, from the meetings to the research to the serendipitous chocolate (which is always a plus).

It was a privilege to work with my mentor Kristine, Assistant to the Chief Advancement Officer, and Tim, Chief Advancement Officer, as the Development Intern. I say “with” instead of “for” because that’s how an internship at ABT functions; you are treated as one the staff members and projects are all collaborative. Being the Devo intern, my projects were spread across the entire board and included drafting acknowledgement letters, processing gifts, reconciling financial reports, conducting donor research, and writing proposals. I got the greatest education in development one could be lucky enough to get, learning all aspects of cultivating relationships and how development is so intertwined with the other departments.

The main projects I worked on were proposals for the newly-minted ABT Women’s Movement, which is still in its early stages and kicking off this fall. The crux of the mission — pushing the traditions of leadership for women — is more relevant than ever and really hit home for me, coming from Wellesley and being a lifelong practitioner of the arts, as well as a woman choreographer. I genuinely enjoyed researching different individuals and corporations and reaching out to them, in hope that they were equally inspired by the unprecedented game-changer the initiative is. I look forward to the day when I read in the New York Times how successful the Women’s Movement is, and take pride in the fact that I had even a tiny role in making it possible. One substantial thing I have learned throughout my time here is that in a non-profit organization, the smallest tasks are incredibly important, and everything you do is contributing to a much, much greater cause that you may even be unaware of.

In my internship search, I was looking for an organization where I would be able to get a holistic education; I didn’t want to be stuck in one department, repeating the same tasks on a daily basis. ABT is the place for anyone with a similar mindset or goal. While each intern is assigned to a specific mentor and department, you are not necessarily confined to learning only about that department. More likely than not, many projects involve multiple departments and individuals, and I found myself learning about other roles when I didn’t even realize it. Furthermore, as someone who has interests in many different areas, I thoroughly enjoyed the weekly intern meetings where we talked to people in numerous other departments such as Finance and Marketing, learning about the 990, accounting forms, and the decisions that go into allowing ABT to fulfill its mission as America’s National Ballet Company.

These lessons and skills learned these past weeks are in no way restricted to the world of non-profit or arts administration. I am confident that these experiences will follow me the rest of my career, and I am forever thankful to have started my professional journey at ABT. I chose to define my internship experience as “influential,” for two reasons: this experience was integral to my identity as a ballet-lover who wants to give back, and I am truly convinced that the work we did matters. In the thick of it all, our work is just one step in ensuring future generations are able to enjoy the magic that is American Ballet Theatre.

Sarah Chou

Development Assistant Intern

Summer 2018

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