Ballet Emergency

13 May

Prior to interning at American Ballet Theatre, I had no idea what working in an office was like. I trained to be a pianist for two decades, but after injury, had to shift career paths. Most of my previous arts administration-related experience involved lots of running/driving around but very little time spent day-to-day in the office. I was happily surprised to discover that working in ABT’s offices was a fulfilling, challenging, and supportive experience. This internship program and the people that I met at ABT taught me lessons that I know that I will take into all of my future work.

Over the past several months, I interned in the Executive Office under ABT’s energetic Executive Director, Kara Barnett, and her two incredible Executive Assistants, Brittany and Meredith. Kara is a whirlwind, always moving from place to place and continually coming up with new ideas for how to move the company forward. Her office is tasked with making sure that her busy schedule runs smoothly and that she is always prepared for her travel, meetings, and events. The fast-paced nature of this office taught me how to work efficiently and under pressure, while still maintaining accuracy.

I enjoyed the challenge of taking care of all of the details, but even more than that, I enjoyed being a part of such a collaborative environment. The Executive Office sits in the middle of the building – it is quite literally the center of everything that happens at ABT – and I loved seeing everyone work together daily to keep the wheels in motion. I can’t count the number of times that there was a “ballet emergency” and, within 30-seconds of asking for help, I would have 3 people running to my side to assist (so thankful for Jackie and Jillian, who always dropped whatever they were doing to help me!). Even when everyone is at their busiest, the environment is truly supportive and everyone’s passion and love for the arts brings people together whenever “all hands” are required on deck.

One of my favorite parts of the past few months has been, believe it or not, the dogs. You may know the hashtag #dogsofabt, but what you may not know is that our corner of the office is the unofficial puppy babysitting station. It is almost guaranteed that at least once per day, a dog will stop by and everyone will stop their work and go to pet it. These moments kept the office feeling lighthearted and fun, even in the most stressful of times.

Monica Chen

Executive Office Intern

Spring 2019

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