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December 18, 2019

Favorite Internship Moments by Victoria Briones and Zion Jackson


Beginning in the 2013/14 season, UMS has partnered with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance each year to recruit second- and third-year undergraduate students for a highly competitive summer internship. The 21st Century Artist Internship program sends each student to work alongside one of UMS’s upcoming guest artists or ensembles, preparing them for the lifestyle, challenges, opportunities, and demands that artists face in the contemporary marketplace. Meet 2019 interns Victoria Briones and Zion Jackson, and hear some of their favorite moments and valuable lessons learned:

Victoria BrionesVictoria Briones

Class of 2020
: Dance
UMS PresentationAmerican Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake

Hometown: Greenville, SC

Zion JacksonZion Jackson

Class of 2020
Major: Voice Performance
Minor: Performing Arts Management and Entrepreneurship
UMS Presentation: Stew & The Negro Problem

Hometown, Dewitt, MI

Can you share a quick overview of your internship experience?

Victoria: I spent every Monday through Thursday as a Programming Intern for the Joyce Theater in Chelsea. Then, I would go to American Ballet Theatre on Fridays to participate in their Professional Development Workshops and occasionally work on small projects!

Zion: This summer I worked in NYC as the personal assistant to performer, composer, and writer Stew. Stew is the creator of the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange and frontman of his band Stew & The Negro Problem.

What was the most valuable lesson you learned?

Victoria: I have a better understanding of the hidden labor that goes into bringing performance to life. It was incredibly rewarding to know that my work was helping other artists, and I hope to use the skills I learned this summer to continue supporting people in my community.

Zion: One of the most valuable lessons that I learned is the ever coached lesson of building relationships, and the importance of entrepreneurship as an artist. Working with Stew this summer really showed me how imperative it is that you are cultivating your professional relationships, and the importance of collaboration and not only reaching out to your network for assistance but being able to offer assistance to your network. He also taught me a lot about what it looks like to be a true, working, entrepreneurial artist…I was able to see firsthand the importance of knowing how to fundraise, time management, money management, negotiation, and the art of selling yourself as an artist.

Did you have a favorite moment/experience?

Victoria: My first day of work at ABT (excluding the Friday workshops) was a trip to New Jersey to discuss a budding community engagement program. I met Taneshia Nash Laird, the president and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall. She described her vision for the company, and I was moved by her determination to hold social activism at the center. It meant so much to me to see an empowered woman of color leveraging her position to specifically uplift marginalized communities. It was one of the first times I’ve been able to point to someone and say, “that’s the work I want to do.”

Zion: My favorite part about my internship experience was being able to immerse myself in the culture of NYC. I loved having the opportunity to partake in so much art, eat so much great food, and to meet/be inspired by so many amazing people surrounding me. Another highlight of my experience was being invited to a private release party with Stew and Spike Lee!

How did the internship change how you think about your career and plans for post-graduation?

Victoria: This summer was a summer of firsts. It was my first time living somewhere that wasn’t Greenville (my hometown) or Ann Arbor. It was my first exposure to professional arts administration. It was the first summer that I was able to continue my training. Most importantly, it was the first time I could see and understand myself as part of a larger arts community. I am full of hope and excitement for the years to come.

Zion: This summer has re-affirmed that Arts Management/Arts Administration is a career that I do want to pursue after I graduate in the Spring of 2020. I still plan to perform as well, but I am so grateful that being a UMS 21st Century Artist Intern also revealed to me, another calling and passion within the arts.