Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lyric Opera Internship gives student experience in nonprofit management and fundraising

This summer, Melissa Halka ’14 seized an opportunity to work in an internationally renowned opera house and also explore the arts and cultural events in Chicago. It has been a fun journey that allowed her to explore her interest in public art and nonprofit management.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I want to do,” Halka said.

Melissa Halka ’14 poses in front of a collection of shoes used in costumes at the Lyric Opera of
Chicago. Her internship has allowed her to learn many aspects of managing and raising money for
nonprofits and art organizations.
Halka was chosen for the Donald P. Baiocchi Lyric Opera Internship, which alumna Amanda Fox ’67 and her husband, Matthew Fox, sponsor each summer. The 10-week internship allows Randolph students to gain hands-on experience in arts management and nonprofit fundraising.

Halka has been working to support projects organized by the Lyric Opera’s chapters, organizations in the community that help raise money for the opera house. Those projects include Operathon, a radio broadcast that includes opera music and interviews with performers, and Fantasy of the Opera, a winter ball. Her daily tasks have ranged from marketing to public relations to special events and database management.

“The most valuable thing I’ve learned is time management and the importance of a lot of forethought when planning events,” said Halka. “I’ve done events with clubs at the college, but my boss is really good at keeping a calendar in her head. The events I’m working on now aren’t happening until March of next year. That forethought is something I want to apply in my own life as I plan events.”

She added that she has learned many ways to use software such as Microsoft Excel to track information that an arts organization needs to keep up with.

The internship was an incredible opportunity that Halka recommends to other students. “In this internship, you hit the ground running. You really get to know what it’s like to work in an opera company. You figure out how all the pieces fit together into an arts organization.”

“A huge plus is living in Chicago,” she added. “It’s an amazing place to live.”

During the internship, which continues until mid-August, Halka has lived close to Chicago’s Millennium Park, which hosts numerous arts-related events throughout the summer, including music concerts each Monday and movie screenings on Tuesdays. She enjoyed having the opportunity to experience that atmosphere, something she hopes to create in her future career. “I’m really interested in working with public art projects,” she said. “It’s good to have art accessible everywhere.”