Irina Lapteva may be a trained dancer, but this former ballerina is looking for a career off the stage. The Leadership in the Arts & Entertainment Industries major is already working on her résumé: She was an intern with the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School over the summer and is now working at the American Ballet Theater. Lapteva will receive her M.A. in January and is looking forward to a career in the performing arts. She spoke with The Box about her internships and how they enhance her studies and offers her best advice on what students should keep in mind when seeking internships.
The Box: What led you to get an internship this past summer?
As a former ballerina from Russia with more than ten years experience of working in nonprofit performing arts organizations, I wanted to get an internship in a ballet theater or school with international programs and long business history in the U.S.
So I did my research and spoke with professors and guest speakers here at NYIT. The director of the program put me in touch with representatives from the Joffrey Ballet School (JBS), the American ballet school that was founded by Robert Joffrey in 1953. Upon researching the school, I found that the JBS has a lot of interesting projects going on, such as the opening of a new Joffrey Dance Center in Long Island City, New York. It was also interesting to observe a ballet company operating for profit and working with students from all over the world. I landed an interview with my future mentor, an international programs producer, who is now my good friend.
What did you like about your internship?
I met a lot of professionals with a passion for performing arts and worked with not only my mentor, but also with the top management of the school including the managing director and ballet director. The atmosphere was also great, and I was welcomed to all meetings and events. In addition, I had a chance to expand my network and begin working on a new project that involved organizing an audition tour and master classes in Russia.
How will this experience help you in your career?
Besides the networking, it gave me a chance to work for and contribute to the company of my dreams. I learned how the company operates. Moreover, I was able to bring value to the company, receive a good recommendation, and improve my résumé. During my internship at the JBS, I was approached to apply for another internship at the American Ballet Theater (ABT).
What is your advice for current students seeking internships?
My advice for graduate students is to start looking for internships in advance and ask companies if they hire interns for managerial level positions. Also, the earlier in the summer you start your internship the more experience you’ll gain. For example, I finished my summer internship at JBS in August and started a new one at the ABT in September. I have classes at NYIT now in the evenings so I can still work while I working on my studies. Plus, it helps me to apply in class what I learned.
This interview has been edited and condensed.