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My Experience as an ABT Intern

1 Jun

As the Membership Intern, I go into the office once a week to create acknowledgment letters. Because ABT is a non-profit, it is important that donors receive acknowledgment letters for tax purposes. I would start the process by pulling a query on Raiser’s Edge, the donor database, of the gifts from the last week. I would then separate the gifts into 6 separate categories, as there were 6 different types of acknowledgment letters. I would then put each letter into a membership packet and envelope.  

When I worked remotely, I would send emails from the Membership Inbox and work on the Change List. The emails I sent were to recurring members whose cards had been declined, to members who received a link to a ballet (like Swan Lake), or to members who received a LWFC photo with their second ask donation.  

In addition, I worked with the Special Events team. For this role, I did a lot of prospect research. This research varied for different events, such as the June Gala and Holiday Benefit. I looked at potential sponsors, venues, and ticket prices. I would compile this research into a spreadsheet and present my findings to the Events department.  

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an intern at ABT and truly learned a lot from the experience.  

Madi Burack

Membership & Special Events Intern (Development)

Spring 2023

Membership Intern: A Day in the Life

15 Feb

Sitting in my dorm room at school, I log into Raiser’s Edge and start compiling and organizing data to begin the process of generating this week’s acknowledgement letters. I work quickly but thoroughly as I want to finish these acknowledgement letters before my zoom meeting at eleven a.m. I finish the acknowledgement letters just before eleven and join the zoom meeting with the rest of ABT’s Development Team. I listen in to hear new updates from the Major Gifts and Institutional Support Team and also receive a rundown of tonight’s gala schedule from the Special Events Team. The meeting closes out at noon and I join my second and last zoom meeting of the day. In this meeting I met with ABT’s Telefunding Team alongside Grey Johnson, ABT’s Director of Membership, and Tilmon Splawn, ABT’s Membership Assistant. This meeting is cut short as Grey, Tilmon, and I need to head to Lincoln Center for ABT’s Fall Gala.   

The call ends and I quickly put makeup on and change into my gala dress. I walk to the subway and head downtown to Lincoln Center. When I arrive, I am greeted by the rest of the development team and the other development interns. The head of Special Events gives us a tour of the gala venue and assigns each of us a specific role for the night. I was assigned door duty with two other interns. We were in charge of greeting guests and directing them to the gala check-in table. Additionally, we were supposed to help the guests with any miscellaneous questions they had. 

The night of the gala was a frenzy, but also one of the most spectacular professional experiences I have ever experienced. Not only was I able to watch the groundbreaking premiere of Christopher Rudd’s Lifted and see some of my favorite ABT dancers perform that I had admired since my early years of ballet training; but I was also able to play a part in one of ABT’s most important philanthropic events. The opportunity to work at ABT’s Fall 2022 Gala solidified my love for and reaffirmed my future career goal of working in development for a performing arts organization.  

This is just an example of one rewarding day out of many that I have experienced this past semester while working as ABT’s Membership Intern. Each day I have worked with ABT this past semester has been both fruitful and enriching. Whether it was learning about a new function in Raiser’s Edge, proofreading ABT newsletters, working the membership table, or deciding which articles to send to donors; each task or experience with ABT has strengthened my skills and allowed me to learn something new. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have interned with ABT’s Membership Department this past semester and am especially appreciative of Maureen Steinhorn, Tilmon Splawn, and Grey Johnson who served as my mentors. I had such a memorable experience and hope to be involved with ABT again in some capacity. 

Victoria Cunnane

Membership Intern (Development)

Fall 2022

Magical Moments at the Met: Membership Intern

22 Aug

What a summer! It has been incredible working with the Development Department during ABT’s return to the Met Opera House! From talking to audience members about the membership program to attending post-performance cocktail hours, it was incredible interacting with donors, who were all ABT fans just like me! 

As Membership Intern, I learned all about how donations are handled. Apart from my role this summer working at the Met Opera House, I created acknowledgment reports, where I sorted donation gifts and categorized them appropriately each week. Writing letters to donors and interacting with ABT members through emails has been exciting and taught me a lot about communication. My favorite part was getting to work at the membership table and attend donor events, where I saw how important maintaining donor relations were for generating enthusiasm. What better way to spend the summer than to watch and talk about ballet! 

Membership Table at the Met

I remember on my first day in the membership team meeting, Director of Membership, Grey Johnson made it clear that “no donation is small”. The amount of giving and generosity that is poured into ABT is inspirational and makes me eager to support the arts in any way I can in the future. Thank you to everyone in the development department for letting me see what it takes to grow ABT’s mission!  

Veronica Greydak  

Membership Intern (Development)

Summer 2022 

Transitioning From Onstage to Offstage

7 Jun

Growing up as a dancer, I dreaded the thought of taking one final bow onstage and hanging up my dance shoes forever. In my mind, I thought that this would permanently shut any window of opportunity to be involved in the dance community. When this day finally came on my college graduation day, I refused to let this thought become a reality. Standing at the crossroads of a new beginning, I found the world of arts administration to be the perfect segway into my life offstage. And soon enough, I landed my first internship opportunity in my graduate studies here at ABT.

Of course, the opportunity to intern at ABT fulfilled my mission to stay connected to the dance world. But more importantly, it introduced me to the labor of love that happens offstage in a performing arts organization. Since I had no prior experience working for a dance company, I was so excited to learn more about ABT’s leadership and organizational structure. To say it takes a village to run America’s National Ballet Company is in fact an understatement – and there wasn’t a moment that went by where I wasn’t impressed by the smart, diligent, and passionate people that I met along the way.

Working in Membership was an incredibly rewarding experience because I got to witness the impact ABT has on the community. Helping members answer their customer service inquires showed me how so many people are touched by the work ABT does and thus want to extend their generosity to the organization. And when I say that this passion runs so deep, I mean that families have held onto the same MET seats for multiple generations! Knowing that ABT means so much to so many made all of the hark work I put into the internship even more worth it. I truly will miss working with the Membership Team!

Ultimately, I am so grateful for this internship opportunity because it gave me a strong foundation of skills that I can build upon as an arts administrator. Specifically, working in Membership provided me with so much insight on career pathways in Development in both non-profit and for-profit organizations. I fully intend to explore these options and feel empowered by the network of people this internship has given me. All in all, I feel humbled to leverage my professional career in a way that upholds the social responsibility of giving back to the community that made me who I am today. And I sincerely hope my career path leads me back to ABT in one way or another at a future time.

Natalie Farrell

Membership Intern

Spring 2022

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

Coming Full Circle with ABT

15 Jan

Beyond the wonderful past few months I’ve had as a membership intern with American Ballet Theatre, the company has had a profound impact on my life. My first summer intensive as a ballet dancer and my first time living in an apartment in New York City was with ABT in the summer of 2013. I fell head over heels in love with ballet, ABT, and New York that year and again in 2014. Those 5 weeks both years confirmed for me that I had to move to the city, and 7 years later I did just that.  

Returning to the 890 Broadway studios, where I first entered as a dancer, as an intern was such a wonderful, full-circle experience for me. Although I decided not to pursue dance professionally, ABT has provided me with the opportunity to combine my deep passion for ballet with the skills that I have gained over the past few years in development and connecting with people. With the guidance from Grey, Grace, and the rest of the membership department, I have gotten to help with sending out thank you gifts to donors, assisted individual donors with their memberships, and spoken with members over the phone about their donations and connection with ABT. My communication skills, both externally through donors and internally through my supervisors, have improved immensely during the course of the internship.  

The highlight of my internship would hands-down be getting to help with the membership table during the Fall 2021 season. We assisted with answering questions that people who were attending the performances had about the membership levels at ABT, during which I got to speak with a board member and the mother of a dancer that I highly admire! It was also incredible getting to watch as many of the performances as I could fit into my schedule – I ended up watching 6 performances in 8 days. Feeling the excitement of the audience watching a live ballet for the first time in about 2 years and seeing so many of the dancers that I have followed on social media again was surreal.  

Ballet and connecting with people have always been my deepest passions, and my time as a membership intern with ABT elegantly combined the two. I will also always have the deepest gratitude to ABT for being the reason why I knew that I needed to live in New York, and for being one of the first things to welcome me back with open arms once I did.  

Ashley Tern

Membership Intern

Fall 2021

Making virtual connections in NYC

4 Aug

When my internship search began, I knew I wanted to work for a performing arts company in some aspect. Ever since I was little the arts have been something that have enriched my life, and something that I have always been passionate about. With that being said I knew I wanted to work in this industry. With the pandemic and lots of arts companies coming to a halt, I hadn’t found any internships in the arts, until I found this opportunity with ABT. A world renowned ballet company in NYC with thousands of donors and fans, I realized this is it. This is the job for me. After spending the past 10 weeks interning with ABT, that still remains true and I can’t say enough good things about this company. 

Working in Membership within the Development department has been such an eye opening experience in many ways. I have really learned so much about how important the Development department is to how ABT functions but also to how any non-profit organization runs. Also, I have learned how vital it is to emphasize stewardship among donors and even in a virtual world that is still possible. There are still so many ways to keep people engaged in what ABT is doing and to get them involved. In addition, this internship has introduced me to so many amazing people and I have been grateful enough to learn from and hear about their experiences working with ABT and in the performing arts industry. Everyone that I had the chance to meet were professional, treated us with respect and like we were full-time staff. I couldn’t ask for more from an internship!

One of the things I looked forward to most about this internship was getting the opportunity to get into the arts scene in New York. I have loved the city ever since I was young and have always wanted to work and live there. Living in a small town in Michigan I didn’t think it would be possible, especially during a pandemic. ABT gave me an opportunity to finally get my feet wet in the New York arts life and get a little glimpse into what it is all about. Even though I was not able to be in the city this summer and see ABT in person, I still felt that I was able to network with people and be connected to the beautiful work ABT is doing. Being able to see videos of the company dancing across America this summer made me proud and humbled to say I work for that and I had a part in making that happen!

In sum, this summer has been everything I wished for and more. This company allowed me to do work that matters and that is important to the overall wellbeing of the company. I am beyond grateful for the valuable skills I have learned, the people I had the privilege of working with (shoutout Ali, Grace, Jackie, and Grey!!), and getting to work for America’s National Ballet Company. 

Bryce Stevens

Membership Intern

Summer 2021

Art is the Heartbeat of New York!

24 Jun

When I got the letter of acceptance into the ABT internship program, I was absolutely stoked. As a lover of the Arts, I was so excited knowing that I could be a part of helping the Arts scene in New York City come back to life as we emerge from the pandemic era. As a college student at Fordham Lincoln Center, daily I would walk by the Koch Theater and the Met Opera, seeing audiences pour out onto the plaza after the ballet, and to me this always exuded an irreplaceable aura. It feels like such a full circle moment to now have an internship in New York City at such a renowned dance company as ABT, and it is an honor to contribute in any way that I can to this organization.

While we have been working remotely, the people have been so warm and welcoming, even transcending the Zoom screen. It has only been a few weeks of my internship so far, and I am so appreciative of how everyone at ABT has treated us interns like valued staff members since the very beginning. I still can feel the energy present when joining meetings and seeing how everyone works together from the ground up to ensure that ABT runs at the highest quality. I cannot think of a better experience than getting to work with America’s National Ballet Company this summer!

This week, I had the exciting opportunity to see the magic of ABT in person! We went up to Wave Hill, a lovely garden in the Bronx, for a film shoot for the ABT Summer Celebration. I was in awe seeing the dancers in person because this gave me such a tangible idea of how the daily work we do in the Membership department contributes to bringing this beautiful art to audiences. Watching the dancers’ gracefulness and athleticism in action after over a year of not seeing any live performances was breathtaking. I was reminded of the emotion that is expressed so uniquely through dance, and the exchange of energy between artists and audience, which is something so special about live performance. On this trip, I also got to meet my mentor, Grace, some of my fellow interns, and other wonderful ABT staff members who I had only previously worked with on Zoom. It was so lovely to see the office come together in person and feel that sense of community!

Overall, as an intern in the Membership department, I get to gain a greater understanding of how vital ABT members, donors, and fans are to the organization. It is inspiring to see how many people still care so deeply about dance and supporting the Arts even during this trying time we have collectively experienced this past year. I have seen how every individual person who loves and supports ABT is a vital part of the company’s ability to continue innovating and bringing beautiful art to the community. I am really looking forward to the rest of my internship this summer and getting to see the company continue to produce great work like the ABT Across America tour and preparation for future performances and events.

Ali Bernstein

Membership Intern

Summer 2021

My ABT Internship

7 Dec

As I finish my ABT Internship, I am reflecting on the last 3 months  and how grateful I am to have had this experience. While the last few months have felt uncertain, the opportunity to work with the membership team at ABT came as a welcome surprise. I feel honored to have been a part of the membership team at this pivotal time of the year and have learned so much through my experience this fall.

The last few weeks of my internship have been special getting to work towards the end of the year goals for membership and new donations. Getting an inside look into the fall celebration, seeing the short films by ABT Dancers, and being a part of the giving tuesday campaign are a few things that have made my time at ABT that much more special. In a semester, where being in person was impossible, there were other unique ways to connect with the development team and other interns. Working with Alex, Jackie and Grace has been a dream, they have all made my time at ABT and with the Membership team special, as an intern the team made me feel like an important part of the team, and gain some real hands-on experiences.

As part of the program. I got to participate in talkback and conversations with ABT Artists and Staff, which has introduced me to the wider world of ballet and dance. Coming into the internship, I did not have as much knowledge of ballet as everyone else and was excited about the opportunity to learn and grow in a new area of performing arts.

I am thankful for the experience I have gained by interning with ABT this fall. Working with the company has made me feel more prepared and excited for the future.

Ashley Weintraub

Membership & Database Intern

Fall 2020

Membership During a Pandemic

6 Aug

This summer, I have learned more about membership, development, ballet, and nonprofits than I ever thought possible, even while working from home!

One of my main tasks during my internship was managing the Membership email account through answering questions from donors. At first, it was very challenging to find the answers to questions that puzzled me as well, but thanks to the support of my mentor Alex, as well as the rest of the membership team, soon I was able to respond quickly and confidently. I was touched by messages from donors expressing how much they loved ABT, and how they wanted to support us during this challenging time. Through answering these emails, I was able to not only enhance my customer service skills, but also to really discover the importance of ABT and our relationships with loyal supporters.

I also had the opportunity to work on a few creative projects with the other Membership intern, Sam J. Together we were able to create a social media calendar to revamp the Junior Council Instagram, and also produced membership one pagers that could be distributed to prospective donors virtually.

During my time at ABT, I have been able to witness the entire company shift and transform to deal with the unexpected. I can truly say I am proud to have been even such a small part of this organization, and I will remember my time learning about membership during a pandemic for many years to come.


Samantha Laurelli

Membership Intern

Summer 2020