Internships & Externships: The Gateway to Careers in Fine Arts

Fine arts internships at CCA

CCA’s ongoing commitment to putting students on track to lucrative careers in the arts via internships and externships has yielded sought-after partnerships and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for students throughout the college.

Get Connected

The CCA CONNECTS program, which matches students with externship opportunities in the Bay Area arts community, is one example of how students can make the leap from their studio practice to real-world experience.

Recently, fine arts students were teamed up with outreach programs like First Exposures, where photography mentors are paired with at-risk youth to explore the medium in a safe and stable environment.

Other CCA CONNECTS participating organizations have included Creativity Explored, SOMArts Cultural Center, Galería de la Raza, and surrounding elementary and high schools.

Reaching outward to community partners provides artists with opportunities in today’s job market that are as diverse as they are plentiful.

Do Touch the Art

When Kalyani Vani (Community Arts 2017) went in search of an opportunity to get more real-world experience in her chosen profession, she turned to one of her professors.

Through her professor, Vani found an internship at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco and spent last fall getting an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how major exhibitions come together.

“I started my internship when they were in the middle of switching exhibitions, so it began with painting walls and then moving on to helping with cataloging some of the work they had just installed,” says Vani.

“I also got to examine and handle the artwork, making reports on any damages that were on the work. From there I was mostly handling research that they needed for their Jimi Hendrix exhibition. I helped with preliminary research, checking copyright laws, and talking to lawyers.”

Vani said she was pleasantly surprised by how hands-on her time with MoAD was and is excited to continue the practices she learned after she graduates.

“The highlight for me was the learning experience and how to interact in such a very different setting. In school, we as students are learning how to enter a society of artists, but with an internship, you get to meet people who are already established. It was the converging of two different worlds for me.”

Learning from the Best

Taylor Johnson (Photography 2017) had a similarly surprising experience when a visit from a guest speaker in her class, legendary photographer Janet Delaney, led to a dream internship.

“Janet is a hero of mine and has been since I was a teenager. She came to our class and was super sassy and honest when she critiqued our work. My professor connected us, and Janet agreed to give me an internship,” says Johnson.

“I ended up archiving a lot of her old work. I’d made large scans for her and went to San Francisco a few times with her to assist while she shot a project. We would also just go to galleries together and hang out. It was really awesome.

“She helped me realize that even as a professional, there are moments of self-doubt and confusion where you can question your practice -- no matter how established you are. I learned a lot from her about what it’s like being a professional woman artist.”

Johnson says that her lucky break, which included archiving some of Delaney’s previously unseen negatives and prints, is something that she sees herself carrying into her own work for years to come.

“The most important lesson I learned was how to operate as a professional artist independently. I hadn’t seen how one makes sacrifices or what a day looks like without a super specific schedule.

“She was in charge of all her own scheduling. If she did have freelance work, she would still be working, lecturing, or teaching classes. It was interesting to look into how one supports themselves professionally.”