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Fine Arts students get hands-on experience from donor-funded internships

Ellen Piazza

Ellen Piazza

As an intern with Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater, Ellen Piazza is learning firsthand what it’s like to work at one of the local music industry’s most iconic venues. “I am constantly handling different and unique projects, and I love working with so many different people who all love music,” says Piazza, a senior studying violin performance at the Butler School of Music.

But to take on this unpaid internship, the undergraduate had to say goodbye to her paying part-time job. Thanks to a new scholarship available to College of Fine Arts students, she was able to do that and still support herself. For the first time, Fine Arts students are using scholarships specifically designed to support them during internships. The scholarships, made available this semester, will be available going forward in the fall, summer, and spring.

“The intern scholarship has provided me with the financial stability to pay my bills,”said Piazza. “I could not be doing this internship without the scholarship and am forever grateful.”

The Meredith and Cornelia Long Internship Fund and the Becker Intern Scholarship are need-based scholarships that offer undergraduate and graduate Fine Arts majors the opportunity to professionalize their artistic and entrepreneurial ambitions. Students must demonstrate significant financial need to receive a scholarship and can receive up to $2,000 of funding to support their internship experience. Students who are traveling outside of Austin for their internships may apply for an additional $1,000 to use toward travel and lodging.

“These internship experiences can play a major role in obtaining a job after graduation,” says Karen Munnelly, director of professional programs for the college. “Many students work while they are in school, and that can make participating in an internship very challenging. The goal of the scholarship is to offset some of the financial burden students face and level the playing field, so that it is possible for them to do an internship.”

This semester five students received intern scholarships, and Munnelly says she’s eager to hear how it helped and see the program grow and expand. Internships not only give students valuable experience, but the work also can allow students to narrow down their career choices.

Mr. and Mrs. Meredith Long

Meredith and Cornelia Long

“Finding the place in the arts world that is the right fit is very important,” she said. “Students also have the opportunity to apply concepts and theories they learned in the classroom to a real-world setting. This work experience will make them much more competitive in the job market.”

“We established the Meredith and Cornelia Long Internship Fund because we have seen firsthand the benefits of sponsored internship,” Cornelia Long says, “as much for the student as for the institution where they carry out their internship. We hope that our internship fund allows UT students not only to have a great résumé but also to have great exposure working in a professional environment in their chosen fine art field.

“We support the College of Fine Arts because we feel that they have a great program and we would like to see it prosper. One of the ways that we reflect our support is through our internship fund.”

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