What's Happening at the Symphony

#OberTerns: A Final Word

We were beyond fortunate to have two amazing Oberlin College students join us as Interns for the month of January. Here is the final word from Miss Katie about #SymphonyLife:


Tomorrow I fly back to Oberlin – back to twenty degree weather, tiny practice rooms, and screaming liberalism. The month I’ve spent here has gone by so quickly, and I’ve enjoyed it all. As my internship comes to a close, I’m reminded of the many pieces of music written to commemorate a “goodbye:” Haydn’s Farewell Symphony and Chopin’s Farwell Waltz, to name a couple. Perhaps I’m being overdramatic – but it’s always hard for me to leave my city, no matter how long I’ve spent here.

I feel so lucky to have done this internship. It was great to see my projects in action, from the community quilt that Nick and I helped put together to the lesson plans used in docent education training. Some of the most rewarding parts of the internship, however, were the relationships I was able to build with the staff here. I am so grateful to have met so many wonderful, talented, smart people. Each person I’ve talked with has given me some valuable insight on what it means to work in the arts. I’ve learned so much in the past month about people, music, and the arts as a public service – too much for one blog post. I was, however, able to summarize in five points what I believe are the biggest takeaways from my experience here. 

  1. Working in the arts requires you to be creative. This may seem like a given, but many arts administrators do their work at a desk and with a computer, a setting that not many people would associate with creative thinking. However, I’ve come to learn that problem-solving and coming up with innovative ideas are essential to the growth of this organization – and any organization, for that matter. I especially admire Adrienne and Chelsea, managers of education and community engagement, for their creativity – it literally is part of their job! Making music enticing and accessible to young children requires a lot of creative thinking, as does discovering tangible ways to reach out to the community. If there’s one thing that the festival’s lesson plans, quilts, and sound booths have taught me, it’s that creativity is indispensable when you work in the arts.
  2. There’s no definite path to success. By definite, I mean tried and true. After speaking to a lot of people at the symphony and asking them how they came to work here, I realized that all of their stories had one thing in common: they were all different. Some people had no experience working in the arts before they came to the symphony. Others came from musical backgrounds and studied music in college, but their careers led them in a different direction. As an undergraduate performing arts major who has no clear picture of what to pursue after college, this was reassuring to hear.
  3. Communication is key. Emails, phone calls, texting, face-to-face conversations – all are fair game when trying to communicate with others, and in a corporate setting, it’s important to utilize them all well. Because the symphony consists of so many different moving parts, it’s necessary for everyone to be on the same page. People also appreciate it when you take initiative, in projects and in communication.
  4. Musicians are people, too! As silly as this may sound, I think that some people forget that for professional musicians, their career is more than a fun gig – it’s their lifestyle. They live in San Diego, they have families, and they get paid, just like any other citizen. That being said, there’s a lot of negotiating about salaries and services that goes on behind the scenes. I have a much deeper understanding of what it means to be a musician employed through a symphony orchestra. Communication and negotiation amongst musicians, conductors, and administrators is constant and ongoing.
  5. I truly do love the arts. This internship has only affirmed more deeply that I do want to pursue a career in the arts somehow, be that through arts management or performance (or both!). Through this internship, I was able to see that both are equally valuable. And, as much as I love performing, I also love helping performers do what they do. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes of every single festival, concert, and rehearsal that it’s honestly amazing that it all comes together cohesively. I mean that in the best way possible – it means that everybody is doing their job, and they’re doing it well.

I am excited to go back to Oberlin, but part of me will miss home, and of course, the symphony. This city is really lucky to have its own symphony orchestra, and perhaps more importantly, to have people that deeply care about the arts.


Share Article
Back to all posts