Our #SummerOfPurpose blog series follows this year’s Cleveland Foundation Summer Interns as they reflect on 11 weeks spent working with Cleveland-area nonprofit and public sector organizations. In today’s blog, we hear from Maddie Schwartz, who spent her summer at FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, where she worked with the project manager and director of exhibitions to facilitate projects and events throughout the city, provided marketing and social media support, and supported artists and educators in program delivery for the triennial.
College: Baldwin Wallace University
Hometown: Manistique, Michigan
Internship Host Site: FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art
Why did you initially decide to participate in this internship program?
I decided to apply for this internship when my academic program director sent out information about the arts organizations that were a part of it this year and encouraged us to look into it. As someone who is not from the Cleveland area, one of my goals for the summer was getting to know the city a bit more and planting some roots for myself here. FRONT really stood out to me as a host site because it placed an emphasis on offering free public programming, which speaks to my own personal mission of making arts and culture more accessible and engaging for everyone. When I was offered an internship with FRONT through the Cleveland Foundation internship program, I saw that it really was the best of both worlds – getting to work for a Cleveland-based arts organization while also gaining connections and knowledge of the city’s broader nonprofit sector.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship experience?
The most valuable aspect of my internship experience has been all of the connections that I’ve been able to make both through my host site and the foundation. Not only have I gotten to build relationships with all of the other interns in this year’s cohort, but I’ve also connected with artists and arts managers through FRONT, community members who want to learn more and engage with its projects, and even alumni of the internship program.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your internship experience?
The most challenging aspect of my internship experience has been learning and working in a very hands-on way with an organization whose staff has been working at least partially remotely and not necessarily locally. The experience has helped me to be more independent and confident enough to take initiative.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing around Cleveland?
I’m not from the Cleveland area, so I love exploring downtown, especially when it involves trying out new coffee shops and local restaurants. I’m also a huge theatre nerd, so I can frequently be found around Playhouse Square.
What are your career goals after college?
After college, I hope to stay in the Cleveland area and work for a theatre-focused nonprofit to increase accessibility and engagement with the arts.
How has this internship helped you grow professionally?
This internship has really helped me to grow in my communication skills. I’m someone who is very introverted and reserved a lot of the time, but my work at FRONT has pushed me to engage with people ranging from staff and artists to community partners and members of the general public. I’m so much more comfortable approaching people and having conversations with them after this experience.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship program?
Be confident in your qualifications. It’s so common to feel like you’re completely unqualified or even too young or inexperienced, but everyone has such unique experiences, passions and ideas. The Cleveland Foundation is interested in what makes you unique and what drives you to make a difference, so confidence and genuine passion are huge when it comes to the application process.