Trying Out a Career

A week-long “externship” with an arts education nonprofit after my sophomore year helped me gain experience and connect with a Muhlenberg alum.

By: Francesca Pino ’21, as told to Meghan Kita  Tuesday, October 1, 2019 04:38 PM

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Amy Appleton '08, director of education at Marquis Studios, hosted three Muhlenberg students, each for a week, this summer through The Career Center's externship program. Here, she's pictured with one of her "externs," Francesca Pino '21.

Over the summer, Francesca Pino ’21, a dance major and business minor, participated in The Career Center’s pilot externship program. The goal of the program is to give students an in-depth look into an industry by combining job shadowing with project-based work. Pino spent a week at Brooklyn, New York-based Marquis Studios, an arts education nonprofit, with Amy Appleton ’08, the organization’s director of education. Here, Pino talks about her experience.

Last spring, I was looking on Handshake, the platform The Career Center uses to share job and internship opportunities, because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my summer. I was interested in participating in dance programs and festivals, but I also wanted to have the experience of office work. The week-long externship at Marquis Studios that came up was perfect. I’d never heard of Marquis Studios, so I looked it up. It’s a nonprofit arts education program. They have teaching artists—dancers, actors, musicians—who go to different schools throughout New York City to teach a class period each week. Then, the students perform at the end of the semester or the school year.

The externship was facilitated through a Muhlenberg alum [Amy Appleton ’08], which made it stand out to me. It didn’t say exactly what I’d be doing other than working in arts education, but I was interested in that and wanted to be exposed to new things. Last semester, I took a course where we went to an afterschool program to teach dance, so I was at least familiar with teaching in a school setting.

I was at Marquis Studios in July, so school wasn’t in session and I was doing more behind-the-scenes work. They had tons of evaluations—the teaching artists evaluate themselves, and the classroom teachers evaluate the teaching artists. I had to go through the evaluations and extrapolate different data to make feedback forms for each teaching artist so they could review the information.

The organization was also trying to hire new teaching artists, so there were a lot of applications coming through. I worked with Amy to go through those and figure out next steps: who would come in for interviews and when. She and I also had lunch together every day. I was able to connect with her over Muhlenberg, to ask if she ever felt like she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do, to figure out how she got to where she is. Having that downtime to ask questions was super helpful.

I’m still unclear on what I want to do in the future, but this helped me be sure that I want to work in an arts space. I think I would consider being a teaching artist or working with them, like I did in my externship. Before college, I never thought about that—I thought of teaching dance in a studio. This kind of experience is part of the students’ school day, and that’s valuable.