Nervous Students, Stressed-Out Parents and Why I Love My Job

April 15, 2011

As the Director of Marketing for Young Audiences, I am frequently in schools taking pictures of our artists working with students or interviewing a teacher for a newsletter article.  Once a year, though, I get to break out of my observer role, roll up my sleeves and help out with the ArtWorks program, and it is always one of my favorite things to do.

This week our small staff of 12 is expecting over 300 students in our office who are coming to interview for ArtWorks, a summer job training program.  Our entire staff breaks up into teams with master teaching artists, and we spend time getting to know the students and try to find out why they want this job.

The students arrive in the reception area (many with a parent who is pacing and looking more nervous than their child), check-in and await their interview.  Before they come, we’ve given the students interview tips to help them succeed.  Many are wearing suits, ties and business attire.  They look impressive! They are sitting quietly, nervously, awaiting their turn or talking in whispers.  We would love to hire all of these students, but even if we can’t (given funding constraints), I just love the fact that the students get this wonderful experience of interviewing for a job. And if they are one of the lucky ones to be hired as an ArtWorks apprentice, it is just the beginning of all the valuable job training that will occur during their intense and wonderful six-week job experience.

JoAnn DePolo with a 2010 ArtWorks apprentice

Yesterday I was paired with JoAnn DePolo, a master teaching artist who will lead 12 apprentices this summer in the painting co-op (and who is also great at making students feel welcome and comfortable in their interviews).  One student we talked to was a 9th grader, and ArtWorks would be his first real job ever, if you don’t count shoveling snow or cutting grass.  He was quiet and nervous and not exactly sure what to do with his hands.  After a few minutes, this student looked us in the eyes and told us how he loved to draw and wanted an opportunity to make more of himself and learn something new.  My heart ached for him.  This program is not just for superstar dancers or students who spend every waking moment in the theater.  Of course there is room for those, but there is also room in ArtWorks for students who just need that first chance to do something great for themselves.

Then we interviewed an 11th grade student who participated in ArtWorks last year and was back again for more.  She came blazing in with an infectious smile, vigorously shaking our hands and excited to talk.  She said something along these lines: “I loved the program so much last year.  It was an amazing opportunity. If there was any way for me to ever thank the people who made this possible, I wish I could.” She told us of a couple of students in her group last summer that were second year apprentices and how much they were able to help encourage the new students like herself who were finding their way.  She wanted to be able to do the same thing this summer and be the leader.

So, good luck to all the students.  If we could only hire them all (feel free to help out by clicking here to help with a scholarship!).  ArtWorks is for so many kinds of students – the shy, the outgoing, the leader, and the student who we know will succeed if given the chance.  ArtWorks is beautiful because it develops everyone.  I am so proud of to be a part of this amazing program.

Stacy Goldberg, Director of Marketing
Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio