Global Challenge: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago, USA
English with Creative Writing, 2015
Details of duties/ responsibilities/ activities
As an education intern, my primary role was to assist the Education Team in their day-to-day work. A large proportion of this involved helping with the planning and implementation of teacher and student workshops which occurred during my internship. I was responsible for some of the department’s administration, in particular organising and documenting their work. During my time at CST, I was the principal liaison between the theatre and Chicago Children’s Museum so much of my time was spent supporting this relationship. This required me to supervise craft events which the museum ran in the theatre lobby, and also preparing for these events. Towards the end of my internship, I was responsible for feeding back to the theatre and suggesting possible areas for improvement for this programme. Additionally, the education department is responsible for the access programming undertaken by the theatre to cater for patrons with visual or audio impairment, and so I was assisting the department with their work in this area.
I felt that I was fully integrated into the company culture by the end of my internship and had really helped to support the Education Department in a number of different ways throughout the summer. In particular, I felt that I integrated myself into the teacher and student workshops run by the Education Team. I was trusted with the responsibility of being the primary liaison between the theatre and the Chicago Children’s Museum very early into my internship, and was commended for my attention-to-detail in my evaluative feedback about the programme. I also completed extensive research for educational resources that the department were planning on creating for an upcoming touring South African production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. This involved me advising the education staff on what would be appropriate, and selecting current resources which could be of use. I then had to evaluate whether they would need to be adapted for the specific audience in question, or whether they would be suitable as they were.
Most enjoyable part of the internship
The student and teacher workshops were certainly a highlight of the internship. Bard Core is run by the Education Team for teachers, and provides them with strategies and support to teach challenging literature, particularly Shakespeare, in their Chicago Public School classrooms. CPS Shakespeare! is for a group of Chicago Public School students and teachers. They come to a week of workshops in the summer and then return in the autumn for 5 weeks of afterschool rehearsals, which culminates in their performance of a Shakespeare play on the main stage in the Courtyard Theater at CST. The students and teachers who participated in these workshops were so dynamic, and it was an incredible to experience their development in the workshops offered by CST first hand. There was lots of work to be done in the weeks leading up to these workshops, and so seeing them all run according to plan was very satisfying.
- Researching – I undertook a lot of research and so had to be able to look for specific things and evaluate their relevance and importance to the tasks that I was given. It was also important that I could document my research in a standardised and logical way so that other members of staff or interns could access it after the end of my internship.
- Communication – in particular, communicating with different social groups for specific purposes. In one day, I could be communicating with adolescents to support them in the workshops, teachers who are expressing concerns over serious issues, and other members of staff for a wide variety of reasons.
- Resilience – working full-time in a professional environment for an extended period of time, whilst also adapting to a foreign culture, required independence and resilience during the internship. The work was also often highly demanding, yet also immensely rewarding, and so an ability to remain enthusiastic and positive at all times was essential to my successful undertaking of this internship.
How this will benefit me in the future
Having worked in a foreign country for eight weeks will certainly appear beneficial to employers. In order to undertake the internship, an individual must be independent and ambitious and so I think this will come through when I apply for graduate roles. Additionally, I now have experience in an internationally recognised organisation which will make my application stand out.
Experience in arts education is very difficult to come by due to the underfunded nature of the industry, and so the opportunity to undertake this internship with the support of Global Challenge has meant that I have had an unrivalled opportunity to gain experience in this area.
When selecting graduate roles to apply for, this internship has certainly confirmed that I am passionate about arts education and so will try to pursue it as a graduate career. When applying for these roles, the experience I have gained through the internship will be exceptionally relevant.