The dance world is much bigger than the stage, and internships can be one of the best ways to explore different avenues of the industry. Interning in anything from marketing to costume design can boost your resumé with real-world experience, help you make connections and allow you to explore career options.
How to Find One:
Check your college's website. Some universities keep a continuously updated database of available dance-related internships online complete with application deadlines and contact information.
Talk to your professors. Chances are, your professors can help you find a good fit and maybe even connect you with a student who has already done the internship.
Don't see what you want? Ask! Just because your dream company doesn't advertise an internship program, that doesn't mean the door is closed. "It never hurts to contact the company," says Lauren Kearns, chair of the performing arts department at Elon University.
Keep an open mind. There are internships available in everything from Pilates training to public relations for a dance company. Apply to several so you can have options.
How to Get Chosen:
Create a clean, one-page resumé. Skip the scented paper and funky fonts. Stick to a simple, professional resumé that highlights relevant experience and coursework, Kearns says.
Use your school's writing center. Most universities have a career resource or writing center where students can get professional help with their resumés and cover letters. If your college doesn't have one, ask a professor to look over your materials.
Make a personal connection. If you found out about the internship through a friend or faculty member, ask them to introduce you in person or via email. This will help get your foot in the door and put a face to your application.
Tell a story in the interview. Rather than rattling off your accomplishments, use your one-on-one time with the internship coordinator to share stories about your life or work experience that show why you're an ideal candidate.
How to Shine:
Show up early. Demonstrate that you're taking the work seriously.
Ask questions. Make sure you understand your supervisor's expectations from day one, Kearns says.
Use your creativity. Dancers make great employees because of their ingenuity, Kearns says. Don't be afraid to tap into your creativity to solve a problem or tackle a project that has some leeway.
Keep in Mind:
Some universities let you earn college credit for internships. Check with your advisors to see if one can count toward your degree requirements.
Not all internships take place in the summer. Some companies also offer fall and spring internships.
"The best summer of my life"
Rupprecht outside Jacob's Pillow's Ted Shawn Theatre.
Kristin Rupprecht, Courtesy Madalyn Rupprecht
Madalyn Rupprecht spent the summer before her senior year melding her passions for dance and journalism as a public relations intern for Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. From May through August, Rupprecht spent her days drafting press releases, creating the program materials, tracking and archiving media coverage, and representing the Pillow at local events. Besides sharpening her writing skills, Rupprecht got to rub elbows with artistic directors and choreographers from all over the world—and take master classes in her spare time. She was also able to attend performances by world-class companies nearly every week. "I think about it every day and just how much that allowed me to grow as an artist," she says. "The best summer of my life so far."