Internships, apprenticeships, and learning-by-doing is a time-honored tradition in the field of arts administration. Academic programs in our field historically offered such programs before they became popular with other disciplines. This is partly because of the nature of the work involved, but it is also due to the fact that most arts organizations in our country have never been well funded, and frankly, interns have always provided a source of inexpensive (usually or nearly-free) labor.
You should think of your internship as a job. If you are lucky, you might locate an off-campus internship that pays a salary or provides a stipend (or at least provides room and board), but the main reason you are there is not monetary compensation, but to learn all you can. Therefore, you should approach your search for your internship just as you would a search for a job -- research multiple possibilities, do research on the company or companies you want to internship for, be professional when you contact the organization, have an updated resume ready, and find out how you can be of help to them.
About Learning Contracts
It is best if learning contracts can be completed and signed by all parties (you, Mr. Westwood, your agency field supervisor and the head of the CDO) before you start your internship. Sometimes, this is not possible. When this is the case it is mandatory that the contract be completed by the end of the second week of the semester.
When you go to fill out your learning contract, (forms available at the Career Development Web site) there are three main sections: Educational Objectives, Job Requirements, and Method of Evaluation. We recommend starting with the Job Requirements first -- find out what the "employer" needs done, and what their specific needs and expectations are. If the organization has had interns in the same or similar position before, they will have a pretty good idea. If internships are a new concept for the organization, they may need more help. The important thing is that you and the agency supervisor (your "boss" at the internship) have a clear mutual understanding of what it is exactly you are expected to do.
After you and your agency supervisor have agreed on the job requirements, it is relatively easy to work backwards to Educational Objectives. Basically, you want to learn about the operation of the the kind of organization(s) or department(s) you are working for. You may also want to develop your skills (such as writing, graphic design, and web site maintenance) better.
For Methods of Evaluation, we have found that the five following elements work well for most internships:
Notes on the top section of your form: