Art History Senior Ashley Gallegos

More than anything, the IE Internship afforded me the opportunity to participate in a mentorship with a doctoral student who provided me with invaluable guidance about what to do with the rest of my life. Although my mentor, Laura, did provide helpful guidance, her main job consisted of keeping me sane and offering moral support. Our most pertinent projects revolved around researching graduate programs, undertaking the application process, as well as working on a CV, cover letters, and internship applications. In addition to all the formal elements of the internship, Laura introduced me to the graduate school life by inviting me to observe graduate seminars, meet other grad students, and network with professionals in related fields.

Going into this semester, I had little knowledge about what it takes to apply and survive graduate school. Despite my plan to intention to go to grad school, I had not done extensive research into programs, funding, or anything else of importance. One of my hesitations about applying to graduate school was my lack of confidence in deciding on what area of study I wanted to pursue. After conducting some research, I narrowed my options down to Arts Management. My outside internships throughout the semester helped direct me into what kind of work I could potentially see myself, which turned out to be development. Once I discussed my decision with Laura, she thought it would be advantageous to communicate with local professionals in this field, including the Development Director of the Blanton.

My informational interview with Simone Wicha, Development Director of the Blanton, proved to be the most influential part of my internship. Not only did she provide me with essential insight in the current status of the field, she introduced me to wonderful resources for jobs and internships. The most significant piece of information she supplied me with was how the field of museum development has not fully professionalized, therefore most people in these positions only hold Bachelors degrees. Up to this point, I had fully intended on proceeding to graduate school, never considering a plunge into the job market. Just as I had everything in order: the three programs I was applying to, I was in communication with schools and current students, and I had started to prepare a personal statement, I had the biggest revelation: I did not HAVE to go to graduate school!

All during college, I held the firm belief that one had to go to graduate school to be successful, after all how much can be done with a BA in Art History. To my chagrin, there are vast opportunities for Art History majors including my future career path of fundraising and development. My future underwent much consideration, outweighing the benefits of a job and immediate cash flow with the disparaging realization of more school debt accompanying a Master's degree. Needless to say, I made the biggest decision of my life, thus far, and counted out graduate school. After I decided against graduate school, my IE internship took a small turn and our focus was now on finding a job or internship. Only with this internship and of course Laura's guidance could I have made this decision to bypass graduate school with confidence. The IE internship saved me time and money!!

One aspect of this internship that proved to be the most beneficial is the continuous dialogue between me and my mentor. Previous to this experience, I had never talked to someone who had experienced graduate school, someone with whom I could talk through my frustration or insecurity about my future. Without the opportunity to work alongside Laura, I am uncertain if I would have come to the same conclusions about attending grad school or at least feeling reassured about abandoning the idea to go at all.

For the students participating in the IE internship, the commonality that we all share is our ambition to succeed and our courage to ask for help along the way. When I first attended the initial meeting with all internship students, I was quite impressed with diversity of majors and the confidence with which each person spoke about their future plans. During the course of the semester, I began to understand that in order to continue on with a certain goal in mind you have to be fully committed to it as well as feel a strong passion to carry out the necessary steps to achieve this goal. Towards the end of the semester, after I had met with a variety of professionals and devoted myself to researching schools, graduate school just did not turn out to be the right step for me. Now I know my experience of the internship is probably very different from the majority of participants, but I think that's okay. In the end, the internship served its original purpose, in that it prepared me for my future endeavors and I am most grateful to what the experience has offered me.