Building a New Community

7 Jun

Despite working 1,743 miles away in my apartment in Austin, Texas, my remote experience at American Ballet Theatre immensely impacted my growth as a dance professional and artist citizen. As someone who began this journey with no arts administration experience – only knowing the dance world as a performer and choreographer – I was nervous about how well I would perform as an intern. The most helpful piece of advice that specifically applied to my experience but can also be said about anything you try in life is this: you will make mistakes, but the most essential part is how you choose to learn from them. I was so grateful to have the development department as my support system as I navigated the ins and outs of ABT membership work.

I was immediately able to grasp ABT’s prioritization on building an inclusive work community. Every week, we attended multiple Zoom meetings to check in on the interns and discuss department projects in the works. These check-ins were great moments to see the many faces who create the backbone of ABT. I immediately felt immersed into the company. We also were gifted the opportunity to listen to guest speakers, professionals in several aspects of the dance field, within and outside of the company. Their inspirational stories provided me more dedication to lean into this work and into the arts.

I noticed tremendous growth in my communication skills and decision making. I was able to utilize these skills in managing the membership inbox, in which I was tasked to answer questions and respond to emails regarding ABT members. I also learned how to navigate Raiser’s Edge, a database I was once unfamiliar with. Work on RE consisted of sorting through membership information and updating their profile when needed. I also became more proficient in Excel by completing projects that required meticulous organization and assortment of data.

I am most thankful for my co-intern, who was able to learn and grow with me along the way. She and I were tasked with multiple projects — big and small — throughout our time with the company. It was always comforting to know that I had someone there for me every step of the way. Although our time spent together was shared on a Zoom screen, I can confidently say that this internship has given me a new friend. The department as a whole is very encouraging and truly wishes to maintain the relationships they build with their interns. Walking away from this experience, I feel grateful to have a community of people willing to support me in my future endeavors.

Jenna Weatherbie

Membership Intern

Spring 2022

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