Self-initiated projects

If you don’t find an internship position that is suited to your needs, then you could think about other, perhaps even better, ways to gain experience. By organizing your own internship, you could set your own learning goals and gather knowledge and experience relevant to those goals rather than the interests of an employer. You can also use the time to figure out how you want to organize your work: What sorts of things do you like to do? How much time in a week do you like to dedicate to your work? Do you like to work more often with others or independently? What sort of space is conducive to your work?

To set your own learning goals, you can reflect on what kind of work interests you and what skillset do you need to build in order to do that work. Can you think of a project that would exercise that skillset?

You could gather a group of friends with similar interests to organize an exhibition or other cultural event, start an art project in your community or neighborhood, or set up a coworking space.

Instead of doing an unpaid internship that may not give you the experience you need, you could take the time to shape a personal practice that aligns with your interests and values, in other words, that motivates you. The work that you do without expecting payment can be a starting point for pursuing your own passions and the interests of your community rather than the unreasonable expectations of a professional field.

A self-organized internship can be a test run for how you want to live and work in the future, a tool for envisioning the future of work in art and culture and for living up to it in the present. As precarious life circumstances force artists and cultural workers into exploitative conditions, it is important to think of ways not only to demand fair labor conditions, but also to work outside the confines of wage labor. Can we create scenarios for work independent from exploitative conditions? Can internships be platforms to test out these scenarios?