Executive Master of Arts student Lauren Hopley completed an internship with The Centre in North Melbourne, Australia.

I undertook my internship at a small not-for-profit organisation called The Centre, located in North Melbourne. The Centre supports a multicultural community, and places focus on providing access to education, social justice, and equal opportunities. The flagship event for the organisation is the annual Spring Fling Street Festival, which is a one-day celebration of community and culture attracting over 16,000 people. I was engaged to fulfil the role of Kids Activities Program Coordinator for the festival.

I saw an ad for the Coordinator position online (pedestrian.tv/jobs) and contacted The Centre directly. I had an informal chat with the Festival Director to begin with, and was subsequently called in for an interview later that week. The Festival Director and I got along well, and I liked the atmosphere and energy of the organisation. I was offered the internship that day.

The first few days of my internship were both exciting and challenging. They involved being briefed on the festival, meeting fellow coordinators, compiling a list of key stakeholders who would need to be contacted as part of the Kids Program, and familiarising myself with the aims, objectives and values of the project. Developing specific milestones as a way to track my progress as an intern was also a valuable task in the early stages of my placement. As Kids Activities Coordinator I worked to connect local schools to the festival by developing creative activities that students could get involved in. Much of my work centred on establishing strong relationships with local schools in order to develop and deliver a creative and inclusive program with students and teachers alike.

Juggling full-time study, a part-time job and directing a play for the Melbourne Fringe Festival alongside my internship proved to be a big challenge! It really put my time management skills to the test. Within the position itself, the lack of budget for developing the Kids Activities program was tricky. The Centre relies heavily on sponsorship and donations for the Spring Fling Festival, so engaging performers and entertainers to participate is largely negotiated upon goodwill and small trades.

Festival day was the culmination of all the hard work that we had put into developing this event, so for me, this was the ultimate highlight. It was wonderful to be able to experience the live program, and to watch our efforts unfold to the delight and enjoyment of the local community. I met some lovely people, and was fortunate to be given a safe platform in a welcoming environment to try out new ideas. If festivals are in my future, I will absolutely call up my Festival Director for a coffee and a chat - she is an inspiring person, and I feel very comfortable going to her for advice and support.

Advice for future interns

Start investigating potential organisations early and pick an area that aligns with your interests and personality. Don't be afraid to be curious, ask questions, and enjoy the opportunity to experience something new and different.

Visit the Executive Master of Arts web page.