Friday, July 9, 2010

Pan Asian Cuisine, Formative Evaluations, Recommendations, and 20-Something Hipsters

Over jalapeno sake and Korean food, I was told that the DIA's Executive Vice President had been given the recommendation to hire me as soon as I graduate.

I spent much of last night, before my last day on the job, wondering if I had done any good.  In my last post, I mentioned the projects I completed and spoke about their value to the organization, but I was still wondering whether or not I had actually done a good job.

So I guess that answers that.

Larry and Michelle took me to lunch today and I really enjoyed it.  I feel particularly invested in the 125th Anniversary's DIA: Inside Out, so it was nice to have lunch with the rest of the team before I leave.

Larry had very complimentary things to say about my work and mentioned that he told the EVP that she should hire me as soon as I'm done with school.  After which he said, "Wait... when are you done with school?"  A year and a half seems like a long time for the DIA to wait, but I suppose it's not unheard of.  On top of the fact that I am fantastic, there is another reason why the DIA is interested in hiring me (and people like me).  Larry spoke briefly about an initiative called the 15/15 project (or something like that), which aims to add 1,500 young, college educated, Detroit residents (living around the cultural center and Wayne State University) to the DIA's membership.

So, all of a sudden, hip 20-somethings are the DIA's target demographic.

(This revelation was followed by Larry asking how old I am (24) and then asking my feelings about Andy Warhol, contemporary art, and Damien Hirst.  It feels kind of nice to be a target demographic-- suddenly, everyone is interested in my thoughts on things.)

To target this demographic, the DIA really needs to have some 20-somethings on staff, which is the other big reason why Larry was so willing to recommend me.

Interestingly, I think that a large percentage of the DIA's visitors are already local 20-somethings.  While they may not actually be members, I have noticed a lot of people my age wandering around the museum on a daily basis.  In fact, yesterday, I was doing some more formative evaluations for an upcoming exhibition and more than half of the people I spoke with were younger people, and young couples seemed to be the largest demographic I saw all day.  This is purely anecdotal evidence, of course, but it seems to me that the 20-something Detroiters are already interested in the DIA, but perhaps they are not being cultivated for memberships.

So that was my last day at the DIA;  Asian food, recommendations, formative evaluations, and hipsters.

Except that I don't really think this is my last day, so much as it is my last "official" day-- perhaps my last day in the building, but I don't think it's my last day at work.

There are two projects that remain unfinished:

1.) DIA: Inside Out
Inside Out is a major undertaking and I have offered to help Michelle with emails and phone calls in any way that I can.  I made contacts and established relationships with several Detroit-area businesses and Downtown Development Authorities, and while I have given them all of Michelle's information, I was their primary contact until now, so I will continue to field any of their questions and concerns about the project, as they arise.  And Michelle has offered to keep my updated on the overall progress of the project.  As I said, I am very invested in this project and I would like to continue to be a small part of its realization.

2.) AAMD Maps
The data for the maps has been sent off to the AAMD.  But, of course, it will take some time for the fellow at the AAMD to process the information and generate the maps.  I expect that he will have some questions about the way I broke down the information, or some organizations' addresses, or Canadian postal codes, or any number of other things before the maps can be completed and I have been the only person working on this project, so it seems silly and ill-advised to suddenly dump it on someone else's desk.  I am still in contact with the AAMD, and will continue to be their primary contact until the maps are complete and in Sondra's hands.

An intern's work is never done.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Inside Out

I'm in the last days of my internship and I've been pretty busy, trying to tie up all of the loose ends in each of my three projects.  Today, I'm entering the last bit of data for the AAMD Maps and I hope to have everything sent off to the AAMD by this afternoon.  I'm also giving all of my program synopsis sheets one last proof-read before I print them off.

And much more exciting, we finally picked a name for the 125th Anniversary Project!  Yesterday, we were supposed to have a committee meeting but Michelle was out, buttering up some of our prospective locations and Courtney was off working on the construction of the frames, so that left Larry and I as the only two in the office.  So Larry and I sat in his office, discussing the general progress of the project and my part in it, when he finally said, "Alright, we need a name for this thing-- what do you think?"

We had a meeting with the marketing department last week that involved a lively brainstorming session to come up with names for the project.  Some were better than others.  A few of the rejects were:
Drive By Art
(Not such a great image in Detroit)
Severe Weather Art
(Which started as Art in the Sun, but then became a play on the tornados we've been having all summer)
Art Attack
(Which I actually really liked)

The list of ones we liked was pretty long, but in the end, it was Larry and I that selected the offical name for the project:

DIA: Inside Out

The runner up was a name that I actually coined: Off The Wall.  But Larry pointed out that we're actually putting these paintings on walls, so it's not such a great play on words.

Either way, I love the name we came up with and I was thrilled to play such a large role in selecting it.  I might not be around to see the paintings go up, but when I read about it in the paper, I'll know that they're using a name I helped select-- and that's just as satisfying.

On that same note, I will not be around to see the paintings be installed because my internship is (sadly) coming to an end on Friday.  Inside Out is far from finished, so Larry has asked that I find another intern (or two or three) to replace myself on the project (he even suggested that I conduct inverviews!), so I submitted the resume of a former classmate from CMU (Fire Up!), put a note on the Emerging Museum Professionals Facebook page and asked a former prof to email the offer to his students.

The fact that I need to replace myself at the DIA seems to go against most of what I read this weekend in the New York Times.  The article talks mainly about the notion that interns should not be abused and worked to the bone without receiving "payment" of some kind, be it college credit, a stipend, etc.

The article states that:
In April, the Obama administration issued a fact sheet listing six criteria aimed at preventing employers from violating the Fair Labor Standards Act with their unpaid internship programs. Among the stipulations: that the training the intern receives must be similar to training that can be obtained in an educational setting, that unpaid interns don’t displace a paid employee, and that the employer does not derive any “benefit” from the intern’s work.
Ok, so...

Training similar to that of an educational setting:  Check.
Must not replace a paid employee: Check.
Employer does not derive any "benefit" from the intern's work: Ummm...

What exactly do they mean by "benefit"?  While at the DIA, I did a lot of things that I think were helpful to the organization.  I wrote up program synopses that can be included in donor packets and grant proposals, I entered a ton of data into the AAMD database for mapping our community outreach-- which will be useful in our upcoming millage campaign, and I secured several locations for DIA: Inside Out, which I also helped name.

Last night, I was explaining to my dad that while these things were helpful, my absence after Friday will not be noticeable... until I thought about Larry's request.  Perhaps I did provide a measurable benefit to the DIA.  Without knowing Obama's definition of "benefit", it's hard to say.  But let me say this, I do not feel cheated or used by the DIA in any capacity.  I am incredibly proud to say that I played a beneficial role in the success of a museum that I love dearly.

And I didn't even have to pay $42,500 to do it. 
(Seriously, read that article!)