Going into my summer internship with the Koger Center for the Arts, I was honestly expecting to get a taste of the vast and exciting world that is the performing arts. As a life-long fan of the arts, I expected to get a behind the scenes look of what Broadway looks like in all of its glory and honestly, I did get that partially. However, I mostly learned that from a business perspective, the world of performing arts is not as glamorous as I had originally envisioned but I also learned that it was completely okay.
When my internship initially started in May, I was thrown right into the swing of things. I learned how to do plenty of office tasks such as changing the marquee and inquiring about cable services for the dressing room televisions that keep the place running within my first three days. At the time, the venue was hectic due to many USC graduations and convocations. I worked events as a greeter and was able to get to know the facility from a Front of House (FOH) and customer service perspective. I am a firm believer that you can learn a lot from a leader by the way they treat the custodians and food service professionals that work for them. The Koger Center management is very big on customer service but they are extremely kind and respectful to all of their employees, part-time and full-time, which was very relieving to see.
Also, around this time, The Book of Mormon came to town for a week-long stay. This was truly what I was most interested in and gave me the most insight into the career that I had been contemplating for such a long time. I was on standby for loading crew and ended up helping out with load-in, our work ending after midnight. This wasn’t the desk job that I was originally expecting. This was sometimes hard manual labor but I ended up learning more from this experience than anything I could’ve ever learned from sitting at my desk. This taught me what truly goes into these grand productions and I learned that sometimes you have to work your way up and be trained in every aspect of the business. I worked the shows throughout that week as a greeter and I worked load out as well into the wee hours of the morning. Despite being exhausted at the time, I learned that I was strong enough to handle the late nights/early mornings lifestyle that I had been preparing for as an SPTE major for the long term.
I got some more technical experience throughout the month by assisting my boss with lighting work at the Lab Theatre while still working FOH events at the Koger Center which taught me valuable skills that I can use in the performing arts industry in large markets to make a secondary source of income in the industry if I didn't get a lucrative job immediately post-graduation.
In the office, I learned that for all of the theatrics to happen that I know and love is impossible without paperwork and tasks that may seem boring. However, I realized that this is where creating a team culture in your work environment is most valuable. The Koger Center is like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows their part to play but at the same time, they support each other immensely and always extends themselves to help each other as well as being generally cheery and inviting in the office. Also, seeing your hard work come together for a great end result is a wonderful feeling.
Plus, I learned how to truly get creative and use my youth and culture awareness to my advantage. One of my major projects during the summer was assisting with the rebrand of the Koger Center in honor of their upcoming 30th Anniversary. The venue was looking the extend their reach and audience while modernizing their image and making the building seem more approachable. Because I was the youngest person in the office by at least 15 years, I was able to offer a fresh perspective, my opinion mattered a lot and it was valued by my bosses. Plus, I was trusted with many tasks because they truly believed that my feedback as critical to the main project’s success. At first, I was very intimidated by the age gap between myself and my coworkers but I ended up using it as a bridge to create common ground. I learned valuable skills about not being afraid to share my opinion and ending value in my own experiences, despite being young.