On our first day at Northlight Theatre, the other summer interns and I were treated to the first of many intern lunches. There, we not only got to meet the entire staff, but were also asked an important icebreaker question: if your summer were an album, what would you call it, and what kind of music would it be? My answer: “Olivia Learns to Cook for Herself,” a pop opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. While cooking in my first apartment has been a challenge of Webber-worthy proportions, the most defining part of my summer has definitely been my time as a Northlight marketing intern. Since the first morning I arrived at Northlight and was greeted by my desk mate (a giant cardboard cutout of Albert Einstein, naturally), I’ve felt truly welcomed into the warm, passionate community of artists and collaborators at Northlight. I’ve learned so much here—not only about marketing for theatre, but also about the Chicago theatre community, the non-profit theatre world, and what it takes to run a successful theatre organization. So, while I’m still not totally sure what my summer album is called, here are a few of its greatest hits—also known as the three biggest things I learned during my internship:
- It’s okay to ask questions. In fact, it’s encouraged. When I first started, I would be pretty embarrassed whenever I didn’t know something (and may or may not have gotten lost in the building more than once), but everyone at Northlight was more than happy to help me out when I needed it. After all, if I knew everything already, I definitely wouldn’t be an intern!
- An internship is what you make of it. At a place like Northlight, you’re bound to learn something. But still—don’t be afraid to make it your own. If you want to know more about Northlight’s history, how something works, or a particular department, just ask! I guarantee the amazing staff here will be able to tell you what you want to know and more. Really, take advantage of all of the incredible resources Northlight has to offer: networking opportunities, Chicago theatre tickets, and, perhaps most importantly, some truly stellar baked goods. And, along the same lines…
- Curiosity is key. Northlight gives its interns so many opportunities to learn about all of the departments, in addition to their own. This summer, Northlight’s twice-a-week intern lunches were a great chance to do this. So, ask questions! Even if you may not be super interested in a particular department, learning more about it from the people who love working there will make your understanding and experience so much more holistic.
Of course, what I’ve learned at Northlight can’t be fully condensed into one blog post, or even a concept musical theatre album. Nevertheless, I’m so thankful for this experience, the amazing, talented people I’ve met here, and all that they’ve taught me. I’m still taking suggestions for my summer album title, but what I do know is that Northlight has been the perfect first internship. As I leave, I’ll take with me fun memories, a new network of friends and collaborators, an experience to help shape my future career—and hopefully, at the very least, some decent cooking skills.