ArtPrize fosters professional development with new internship opportunities

<p>GVL/ Lanthorn Photography Team   Opening Day Festivities in Downtown, Grand Rapids on Thursday, September 20th, 2017. </p>

GVL/ Lanthorn Photography Team   Opening Day Festivities in Downtown, Grand Rapids on Thursday, September 20th, 2017. 

Jenny Adkins

With many college students actively seeking professional experience outside of the classroom, ArtPrize and Ferris State’s Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) have partnered up to provide 12 paid internships in preparation for the “ArtPrize 10” season. The partnership announced it is accepting applications from any West Michigan student for internship positions involving education, volunteer/visitor engagement, development and exhibition management.

ArtPrize Director of Learning and Engagement Becca Guyette said that the positions target a plethora of different majors but are not limited to any given major. The program prioritizes giving students experience and skills that can be transferred from nonprofit work to any other workplace. 

“Having a strong interest in community and arts is important because of the work that (ArtPrize) does,” Guyette said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be the degree that the student is seeking… (but) if you can demonstrate a passion or an exploration of an interest, this is really a great way for students to gain that life experience.” 

Guyette said that interns will not only learn how to effectively collaborate within a nonprofit, but will also learn to multitask from directors who, by in large, have over ten years of experience in their fields. What makes the internship experience unique is the ability to tailor what the student does to their area of interest, so long as they also accomplish their required work. 

“As we learn of a student’s interest, we can fit (various projects) into their experience at ArtPrize, even though there are specific tasks that need to be accomplished with their work here,” Guyette said. “That’s a priority for us: to mentor.”

The new internship opportunities stem from KCAD’s longstanding support of ArtPrize, with the duo focusing on providing paid professional development for students as well as introducing them to the cultural community within Grand Rapids.

“This program is a perfect example of how purposeful relationships can create transformational opportunities for an entire community,” said KCAD President Leslie Bellavance. “Students will have the opportunity to positively influence the cultural landscape and critical conversations around the value of art and design.”

Creative Many’s 2016 Creative State MI report cites supporting creative outlets and communities as imperative to the success of other aspects of society, such as the economy and social health. Guyette said that in order to harbor these creative communities, ArtPrize and the internships are fueling creativity, or an experience that gives students a stake in Grand Rapids’ art scene.

“(These interns) are giving back,” Guyette said. “They are helping to amplify the work that ArtPrize is already doing and what our community partners are already doing. Ultimately, we really want to connect students to community.”

In terms of takeaways, Guyette said that at its core, the ArtPrize internships will give students an experience that they will always remember. The application of such an internship should give students direction on what they want to do with their degrees and interests in the field of art, education and nonprofit management.

“(Students will say,) ‘I achieved pulling off a large event with a team,’” Guyette said. “’I achieved building relationships within the community that will live on past my experience as an intern. I achieved new skills in a work environment that can transfer to any career of interest.’”

Application deadlines vary. For more information on the internship positions and how to apply, visit