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Anderson Center internship provides career boost

By : By Dania Zalen

Mary Mack (front), assistant director of the Anderson Center, Rosanne Norris (center), marketing coord-inator of the Anderson Center, and Sharifa Grant, a senior from the Bronx and intern at the Anderson Center, inside the Osterhout Concert Theater. Past
Jennifer Kwok remembers the exact moment she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in the arts.

As she stood at the back of the Anderson Center’s Osterhout Concert Theater, she watched an audience of more than 1,000 take in a performance by the Krasnoyarsk Dance Company of Siberia. They were “laughing, smiling and clapping setting aside any differences and just experiencing the performance together,” Kwok recalled recently. The experience inspired her to devote her professional life to creating that kind of feeling.

Today, Kwok is an education assistant for Jazz at Lincoln Center. She’s one of three alumni who interned with Mary Mack, assistant director of the Anderson Center, and have gone on to careers in arts administration.

“My other mentor, Deborah Mitchell from the Theatre Department, remembers me saying in her office that it was my dream to work for the Lincoln Center, and here I am!” Kwok said.

Al Jacobson ’05 and Melissa Lange ’99 can also trace their career success back to internships with Mack.

Jacobson, 23, landed his job in the marketing and development department at the Westchester Philharmonic just one week after graduation this spring. In addition to running the box office, training volunteers and assisting the director of marketing in advertising and marketing plans, Jacobson is also expected to assist the director of development with fund raising.

Although Jacobson attributes much of his success to his work at the Anderson Center, he feels his other accomplishments at Binghamton also contributed to his achievements. Jacobson not only holds a double degree in music and business, he also represented all of the music ensembles in the Student Association. His advice to BU students? “Try to get as much experience as you can, something that can get you involved with seeing what goes on behind the scenes, and start networking.”

Senior Sharifa Grant, Mack’s current intern, is doing just that. Grant is working with Mack on On Stage, which promotes the season’s upcoming performances. She is also working closely with Roseanne Norris on fliers, press releases and the distribution of marketing materials.

“I would hope that she would take the things she learned here and apply them,” said Norris, marketing coordinator of the Anderson Center. “I can see Sharifa being successful in whatever she undertakes.”

Although Grant didn’t know about Mack’s previous interns’ professional success before she took the position, she finds it promising. “It tells me that I’m in a good place,” said Grant, who is double majoring in English and Africana studies. “I guess you could say it’s an inspiration because it shows me I’m on the right road.”

Mack said the internship program at the Anderson Center gives students a “boost up” when looking for a job. “We tailor each internship to the intern, and what their interests are, as well as what their strengths and weaknesses are,” she said. Kwok, whose responsibilities now include teaching Jazz 101 classes, coordinating public programming and delivering a Jazz Talk lecture series, said her internship helped build the skills that she uses every day as an arts administrator. “I learned so much, and Mary Mack has been an amazing mentor to me, not just in learning about arts administration, but also in how to work with others, from patrons to artists,” said Kwok, 23, who graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in management. Lange, 31, director of patron services at the St. Louis Symphony, said internships are crucial because they give students an idea of what goes on in the professional world. Lange, who holds an MBA from Binghamton, said she observed what Mack did on a daily basis and helped her with events.

Her advice to students? “Don’t let the money scare you,” she said. “If you love the arts, then the rewards are amazing.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08