Experience is Worth It, No Matter What Kind it Is.

By the summer before my senior year in college, I was panicking. Each student in my department was expected to complete one internship for credit before graduation. I had been searching and writing cover letters to send out during spring break, continued looking through spring quarter, and was beginning to despair to find even just a job for over the summer. At this point I still didn’t have my license, so the chances of finding an internship I could actually even transport myself to seemed slim.

Fall quarter began, and my advisor forwarded me a few emails from people in Napa Valley looking for interns. I spent a day at Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company studying and perfecting cover letters to send. To my surprise and joy, I received a reply from Nimbus Arts by the next day. We set up an interview time. Excited and nervous, I went to buy a pair of slacks to wear (all of mine inevitably shrink to high-water status after the first wash, it seems) and prepared myself for the interview.

I drove to Nimbus Arts that day and met Jamie, the director, for the first time. We talked about my duties and about my background, and I became their media and public relations intern.

At first, I was doing a lot of work with updating the Facebook page, connecting to the business that does their email newsletters, and creating a Twitter page for them. I also began working on writing material for Nimbash, their annual fundraising event that drives the work that happens most of the year. I began attending their events to photograph the people and the art and even got a couple of pictures published in the St. Helena Star.

My internship turned out very different from what I expected it to be. Nimbus Arts had never had an intern before, considering they were just recently becoming an independent nonprofit. Jamie, Anne, and Mary, the office manager, are also constantly fielding phone calls, emails, working with and teaching classes, as well as taking care of their families and other responsibilities they had. Often, it was hard to know what I should do, especially when I was no longer in charge of handling the email newsletter, because having me as a middleman really didn’t make sense, except for the odd time I would catch a mistake in the copy. For awhile I got discouraged, because my internship was very dependent on what work I was given but also it was up to me to record when I worked and how many hours I got. Finally, as the year began dwindling to a close, I decided to start actually going in to Nimbus every Tuesday and Thursday and work until I had class in order to fulfill my 90-hour requirement.

Nimbash was coming up quickly and there was plenty of work to be done. I quickly became swept up in the flow of work that came with planning an event of this magnitude. I ended up working on a lot of different things, and although it wasn’t necessarily my “job description”, I felt I got more of the valuable experience that I needed in simply working with a business than the kind of stuff I was already learning in college. I picked up lunch for the weekly planning meetings and sat in on them, I fielded phone calls so that the other staff could get some work done, I called businesses to ask them if they would be willing to donate their time or product for the different exhibits we would have at Nimbash, I typed up artist biographies, became the contact on campus for artists to submit to, and answered questions on the Twitter page about the event. Although I had enjoyed the first half of my internship, I enjoyed the second half even more. I felt like I got to know the Nimbus staff well, and each of them were kind, caring, and wonderful people to work with. I felt that I learned a lot and gained valuable experience and contacts that no one can dispute.

When I graduated from college, I made sure to give them an invitation to the ceremony. Although they couldn’t attend, when I went to return some flyers and paperwork and get my intern evaluation, they gave me a gift card for Dean and Deluca, which is one of my favorite places in the Valley because of their peach medley smoothies and the variety of fresh foods they have available. I ended up purchasing a cookbook with it to give me ideas for when I moved out and got my own apartment. They also each gave me support in finding a place to rent and helping me look for jobs.

To this day I appreciate everything that the staff at Nimbus Arts has done for me. They had even offered that if I could find a job in the Valley again, that they would have a project for me to work on for the art center. I am extremely glad that I interned there and understand fully why it was a requirement for my degree.

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