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IU Auditorium opens world of opportunity for student interns

Next time you go to a show at IU Auditorium, take a moment to look at the smiling faces taking tickets and guiding audience members to their seats: You may just be looking at the next New York City night club guru or a future Los Angeles publicist.

Each year, IU Auditorium employs up to 800 students in a variety of internship, practicum and employment opportunities, from the building's front curb through the lobby and onto the stage. Many of those students go on to careers in the event management or entertainment industries, while others build upon the skills they learn and effectively apply them to completely different fields.

Jessica Baxter

Jessica Baxter

Print-Quality Photo

IU Auditorium Director Doug Booher says that from the marketing interns in his office to the box office clerks who cheerfully sell you your tickets, each intern has the opportunity to gain valuable experience as a working professional.

"I've had students who have changed their entire career path after working with us," Booher said. "I'll hear back from former interns years later who thank us for giving them the chance to see that they could actually find a career that they love in event management or entertainment. We also see former employees take the skills they learn here -- organization, management, working with the public -- and apply them to fields that have nothing to do with venue management."

Jessica Baxter began working at IU Auditorium when she was an undergraduate music major. While she'd had dreams of joining an orchestra as a violinist when she was in high school, Baxter had long since realized that wasn't the right career path. Now an IU graduate student in arts administration, Baxter is doing a graduate assistantship as a marketing and events specialist at IU Auditorium.

Baxter's senior-year Auditorium internship completely changed her ideas about what she wanted to do after graduation. "IU Auditorium had a big role to play in terms of transforming me from a student who wasn't sure what my next step was going to be to starting my career," she said.

Through the internship, Baxter realized that her real talent lies in face-to-face communications. Her position has allowed her to merge innate people skills with a passion for the arts. After completing her graduate program in January, she will move on to a development internship with the Seattle International Film Festival.

Baxter feels more than prepared for the future after her Auditorium experience. "On-the-job learning is the biggest asset here," she said. "A lot of student managers learn how to deal with people, from crowd management to just learning to think on your feet."

Baxter says the crew of up to 800 volunteer Auditorium workers includes a team of about 50 student managers who are part-time hourly employees and are responsible for overseeing volunteers. "I started out as an unpaid intern -- most of us do," said Baxter, who began as an events intern.

Students across campus, not just Auditorium workers, also have the chance to do "meet and greets," in which they get to spend time with performers from touring shows.

"We did a meet and greet for Sweeney Todd," she said. "The most interesting thing for students to realize was that the cast was exactly their age: 19 to 26 years old. Each one of the performers is a musician, a vocalist and an actor. It's inspiring. It tells students, 'I'm that age -- maybe I can do something awesome.'"

Any currently enrolled students at IU Bloomington are eligible to apply for a position at IU Auditorium. Volunteers are required to work a minimum of six events per semester, follow a dress code and smile.

"We do look for friendly, outgoing students," said Booher. "This is a chance for students to learn about guest service, venue management and crowd management, among other skills -- not to mention the fact that they get to see shows during their shifts for free."

For more information on IU Auditorium, see http://www.iuauditorium.com/new0809/index.html.