What Interning at LA Opera Meant To Me

Cristian Perez

“You go to school for theatre? Like acting? I didn’t know people went to school for that,” said the flight attendant, a bright-faced, tall woman. Her smile glowed with the same intensity that mine receded. I was on my way to the 2017 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and our flight was due to land in Hawaii in just about two hours. The view underneath me was shifting from the blue tinge of ocean water to the mossy greens and browns of island life.

Yet, the excitement that was boiling inside me just mere moments ago, vanished with the sound of her words. Was my career path the right one? Did I really want to pursue a career in the arts? These are sentiments to which any student in the arts terrain can relate to. Feelings of uncertainty, low self-confidence, and doubt are a poison which sadly follows every creative spirit. I am conscious that a career in the arts means a challenge: a challenge to truly find one’s place within the world of creative exploration. As a Creative Literature and Theatre Performance double major with a minor in Latino Studies (all fields in the humanities), I have made my choice: the arts.

There is no question that the arts field presents a tough road; its fast paced nature and extreme competitiveness makes it a constant challenge to thrive. However, it is due to opportunities such as the one I’ve had this summer that my dream continues to gleam with zeal. Interning at LA Opera has been an absolute blessing for me.

As the 2016 development (philanthropy) intern, I’ve gathered a plethora of knowledge that will remain with me throughout the rest of my life. The Development Department is a central component of any non-profit arts organization and that is why I couldn’t be happier to have engulfed myself in it all summer long. I have written countless letters for foundation, corporation, individual, and government acknowledgements, prepared grant proposals, worked in one for the most widely used performing arts databases, Tessitura, assisted in the coordination of a yearly gala, researched donors and prospect organizations, and collaborated with the special events and PR/marketing teams for other projects. Together, all of these efforts have given me a clear idea of what it takes to maintain a non-profit arts organization as large as LA Opera.

My internship captured the essence of the company, and gave me the chance to experience the professional world of the arts. The best part is that along the way I have built so many relationships with other professionals in the arts; I have begun to make my mark in the arts landscape that is Los Angeles.  I am sad to see my time here end, but I am extremely grateful for my development team and for the rest of the Los Angeles Opera family.

Cristian Perez is a third year student at Whittier College. He is a Theatre and English double major and a Latino Studies minor.

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