Arts and Letters Projects Connects Students to Short-Term Internships

Arts and Letters Projects, a micro-internship program funded by the College of Arts & Letters’ Excel Network, offers paid, short-term internships to College of Arts & Letters students while supporting projects from faculty, alums, and community partners across a wide range of interests.

“After seeing how students were impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic by trying to gain experience, we wanted to offer an opportunity to help them get started,” said Maggie Harris, Internship and Alumni Coordinator for the Excel Network. “While these experiences aren’t for credit, it was important to us that the students be paid for their work.”

The goal of Arts and Letters Projects is to condense a normal 6-to-12-week summer internship into a short but invaluable experience in a specific field of interest.

Mary Claire Zauel working at her Summer Circle Theatre internship.

“Arts and Letters Projects helps meet employer needs by connecting students to opportunities,” Harris said, “but it really helps students in their own professional development too.”

This spring, 94 students applied for micro-internships through the program and students from 13 different College of Arts & Letters’ majors were hired to complete the month-long internships this summer in fields such as design, research, social media, theatre, videography, and more.

“Students apply via Handshake and I review their resumes before passing them along to employers. This allows me to offer feedback to students, which can help them become more competitive candidates in the hiring process,” Harris said. “Employers then receive the student materials and schedule conversations with the students they would like to learn more about.”

“Arts and Letters Projects helps meet employer needs by connecting students to opportunities, but it really helps students in their own professional development too.”

Maggie Harris, Internship and Alumni Coordinator for the Excel Network

Laura Harvey, a recent graduate who majored in Mandarin, was one student who acquired a micro-internship through the program this summer. She interned in a hybrid setting for the Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC), a nonprofit organization prioritizing health and community resources in Lansing, Michigan.

“During my internship, I was asked to study social media marketing techniques to gain exposure for the business. Regular daily tasks included research and analyzing data,” Harvey said. “In the end, I created a PowerPoint and drafted a sponsorship letter to clearly present my ideas on how we could improve business strategy.”

Mary Claire Zauel, a senior majoring in English, also acquired a micro-internship this summer through the program. She worked on campus with the Department of Theatre’s Summer Circle Theatre (SCT), which offers free shows on MSU’s campus throughout the month of June.

Two people side by side, both holding a pamphlet. One is dressed in black, the other in pink.
Marie Claire Zauel handing out programs at a Summer Circle Theatre performance.

Zauel’s primary responsibility was creating an online survey for attendees that could be accessed through a printed QR code on SCT flyers.

“I worked with Abbie Tykocki and Rob Roznowski to create and distribute a survey tracking audience participation, engagement, and attendance to Summer Circle Theatre,” Zauel said. “In the early stages of the project, my fellow intern and I drafted a short survey asking about audience members’ prior experience with Summer Circle, their reasons for attending, and any feedback that they had.”

Zauel also attended all the SCT shows to interact with audience members, promote the survey, and share information about the upcoming year’s schedule of performances.

“My internship was a step outside of my typical academic studies, and it allowed me to grow in soft skills that will be extremely helpful to my future,” Zauel said. “Through this project, I was able to practice open communication with strangers while also understanding the importance of analytics when it comes to programming for the arts.”

“My internship was a step outside of my typical academic studies, and it allowed me to grow in soft skills that will be extremely helpful to my future.”

Mary Claire Zauel, senior English major

While completing another technology-based project, Harvey confirmed her biggest takeaway was the community side of the internship.

“The most rewarding thing about working with ANC was the volunteer experience,” she said. “It confirmed my passion in helping my community any way that I can.”

A devoted attendee of Summer Circle Theatre performances long before her time at MSU, Zauel was “thrilled” to be a part of the team to learn about and help grow the program she’s known for years.

“The program celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, and we had audience members who had been attending for over 30 years,” Zauel said. “Hearing how Summer Circle has grown over time and listening to the stories of these devoted theatergoers was a true inspiration of how theater never dies, which was sorely needed after the COVID-19 pandemic.”