Austin Coon ’24 — I would like to start off by thanking Roy Kaplan, Dr. Horton, and Dr. Pittard for connecting me to Athens Arts Gallery, teaching me during WLAIP, and bringing in all the guests that came to speak with us. Without them, I would not have received the great opportunity to intern at this great organization that seeks to give back to the culture of the community.
This summer, I interned at Athens Arts Gallery, a small non-for-profit organization in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I helped with things like cleaning, researching grants, and helping during events. I mostly assisted them with tasks that they were too busy to dedicate lots of time to. Diana McCormick, the Executive Director at the gallery, said that I’ve probably saved them a hundred hours with the work I’ve done.
I worked in person at the gallery on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and virtually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On in-person days, I would spend the morning sweeping, vacuuming, and taking out the trash. Then I would spend the afternoon working on my laptop, doing things such as grant research, advertising for events, and cataloging items that the gallery had purchased using grants. On virtual days, I would continue the work I was doing on the computer. My bosses used an app called Trello to assign me tasks and keep track of my progress, and I think it helped us a lot when it came to coordinating information and staying on-task.
Occasionally, there would be events, which I would help with. There was an opening reception for a featured artist, the PRIDE event in June, and the First Friday’s event in early July, which Athens Arts was a part of. For the events at the gallery, I would help set up chairs, tables, and food, and I would talk with the attendants. First Friday’s is an event held by Crawfordsville every month at Pike Place. At this event, the gallery invited attendees to “Chalk the Walk”, which meant that we offered chalk to anyone who wanted to draw on the sidewalks. Earlier that day, we took down the current art in the gallery and put up new art, which the gallery does every month. It made for a very busy day.
During this internship, I’ve learned what it’s like working at a non-for-profit organization. Things can get unpredictable and busy at times, and I think nothing exemplifies this more than the first week of my internship. I had to work the front desk when it was only my second day working in person because the volunteer who was supposed to be at the front desk had an emergency come up. The next day was the featured artist reception. Setting up for the event and then helping during it kept me busy, but I enjoyed having lots to do.
This internship was my first ever job, and I believe it has given me the proper experience that I need to comfortably hold future jobs. I’ve become much more comfortable taking on long-term projects and asking questions when I’m unsure of how to proceed, two skills that will serve me well in my adult life. I thank the WLAIP program and Athens Arts Gallery for making this experience possible.