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For many dual-degree students in Bienen, choosing a path after college is a scary prospect. Are we ready to take the plunge into an increasingly competitive music business? Would we be happy if we were not to pursue music, abandoning the art we love so much and to which we have devoted so much of our lives? Fortunately, my internship at the Singapore Lyric Opera this summer has provided a potential alternative to choosing between my Economics and Piano Performance degrees—combining them in the field of arts administration.

Since I knew I wanted to come back to Singapore for the summer, my first step in my internship search was combing through internsg.com, a Singaporean database of internships of all sorts, from research and development to social media to film. The listings that I found interesting and was qualified for fell into a few categories: business development, marketing, and journalism, but the industries that were offering these roles did not appeal to me. I asked myself what kind of organization I would like to work for, and the first thing that came to mind was a symphony or opera company. I pulled up the websites of several arts organizations, sent off emails inquiring about internships, and got replies from two. The Singapore Lyric Opera offered me a six-week internship starting in mid-July, and The Flying Inkpot agreed to let me contribute concert reviews to their blog.

I have been blessed with several unique opportunities during my time at the Singapore Lyric Opera. I have written a press release for a gala concert in October, written and edited content for flyers, helped put together the musicians’ contracts, looked through the company’s jungle of old props and costumes, approached corporations and put together presentations to request funding, created educational guides for schools, sat in on meetings with the company’s publicist, choreographer, marketing manager, and production manager, and was even pulled in to play for the Opera Chorus’ rehearsal when their pianist dropped out last minute! My assignments span several functions such as marketing, production, outreach, and more, giving me real-life experience in areas about which I did not know much beforehand. However, the office is quite disorganized, communication is poor, and there is no concept of mentorship or training for interns. While I would definitely encourage other students to search for organizations that align with their interests, make sure to insist on a structured plan for your time there if the company does not have one in place.

Writing for The Flying Inkpot has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a great way to incorporate my Music Criticism minor into my summer. The process is quite simple: I choose and attend a concert, write a review, send it to Derek, my mentor at TFI who sends me back suggestions, make changes, and it is posted. I love that I can work at my own pace, that Derek’s input is prompt and helpful, and that I occasionally get free concert tickets!

Though I may not have the perfect internship, I have learned a lot this summer in ways I did not expect. The opportunity to explore Singapore’s ensembles, performance venues, music education system, and government arts funding process—which are quite different from the United States—has  been a fascinating and an invaluable experience.  I also have a clearer idea of what I would like in an internship next summer, which will surely help me as this search starts in the coming months.

Lara Saldanha is interning this summer at the Singapore Lyric Opera as well as writing concert reviews for flyinginkpot.com. She is a rising junior in the Weinberg/Bienen dual-degree program studying Economics and Piano Performance with a minor in Music Criticism.

About Views from the Cube
Views from the Cube offers an inside look at what it means to be an intern from Northwestern students who are interning across the country and internationally for companies and organizations in all industries. Would you like to share your experience? Please contact careerservices@northwestern.edu.