Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Intern's Trial by Fire during The Art & Writing Awards

“Sorry this office looks like a bomb went off in the middle of it. It’s just that time of year,” my supervisor said to me on my first day working at the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. My junior year at Amherst College had ended just two weeks earlier, but the time for summer relaxation had already passed. My internship with the Alliance began on June 1st, and the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Ceremony at Carnegie Hall was only 8 days away. There was a lot of work to be done, and the whole “It’s only my first week” excuse wasn’t going to pull any weight around the office.

There wasn’t any “typical” day in the week leading up to Carnegie Hall. The one thing I noticed almost immediately was all of the boxes lying around the office. I had an uneasy feeling that these boxes weren’t there for decoration, which most likely meant they needed to be moved. Indeed, the next week and a half I found myself lugging boxes all over the office and Manhattan. They were generally filled with things that were needed to set up registration, the awards ceremony, and the workshops that took place the day after Carnegie. Catalogues, art supplies, flyers, signs; a lot of what makes this event run so smoothly can be found in boxes.

I was also sent on missions by the Alliance into Midtown, SoHo, and the Financial District to distribute postcards for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Teen Exhibition at the World Financial Center. (Side note: the exhibition is still going on! It will be on open until June 25th from 12-4pm, Tuesday through Saturday). This was an amazing opportunity for me, seeing as I’ve never lived in New York. Growing up in Cleveland and attending college in Massachusetts, I didn’t really know the city well at all. Advertising for the exhibition gave me a chance to see the city and spread the word about our amazing event.

The actual day of Carnegie was filled with numerous miscellaneous tasks, such as setting up for the reception and photocopying the VIP guest list. When the doors actually opened at Carnegie, I could distinctly sense the excitement hidden within the hearts of the Alliance staff. Their level-headed collectiveness was betrayed by contagious grins and wide eyes. The staff had worked hard all year to make this happen, and I was honored to be a part of it (even if I had only been on board for a week). The sense of accomplishment I felt must have been nothing compared to that of the full-time Alliance workers.

The majority of my day was spent doing crowd control, which was both stressful and rewarding. It was great to see all the smiling faces of the award-winners, not to mention the proud parents. Kids and adults alike all understood how special it was to win an award from the Alliance, and their unadulterated joy made the long week of work feel like it had a purpose. After a busy night of directing crowd traffic and leading important partners to the elevator, the awards ceremony was over. All that was left was the celebratory reception, a time for us all to kick back and enjoy the success of the event. I found that I needed to take a moment around 10pm (after the reception was over) just to take it all in.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Ceremony has come and gone for this year, but that doesn’t mean we have permission to spend the rest of the summer patting ourselves on the back. I’m glad I got to dive headfirst into this internship, and I’m excited to see where we go from here.

-Rick Morgan


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