Citigroup withdraws all funds for arts internships

Although the Office of Career Counseling (OCC) has recently announced this year’s alumni-sponsored internship recipients, the actual number of opportunities available has dropped as a result of the discontinuation of Citigroup’s program.

Every year, the alumni-sponsored internship program provides eligible students with a stipend so that they may pursue unpaid internships, something they might not otherwise have the chance to do.

Last year, over 100 students received an alumni-sponsored internship. Recently the group of these internships sponsored by Citigroup were eliminated from OCC’s list because the Williams alumnus who used to encourage the corporation to contribute to the program retired from the firm.

The Citigroup internships differed from the majority of these alumni-sponsored internships, which relate to work in the nonprofit sector, such as volunteer and government jobs, because they targeted Williams students with an interest in the arts, both performing and visual.  

According to Fatma Kassamali, the director of OCC, there are generally less internships related to the arts because the ideology is that commercial organizations related to arts and entertainment have enough money to provide their own internships while nonprofit organizations, which have less available funds, need more assistance.

Additionally, the Citigroup internships were based on funds provided directly by the corporation, while most of the other internship programs are based on an endowment whose annual interest is used to fund the internships each year. Before the Sept. 11 attacks, over 20 internships were offered through Citigroup.

Last year, the number was just over 10, while this year there are none. According to Ron Gallagher, funds formerly used to sponsor internships have been diverted to Sept. 11 relief organizations.

Without the Citigroup internships, there is only one alumni-sponsored internship left for students interested in the arts: the Arts and Entertainment internship. The focus of this internship, however, is solely on the performing arts, leaving students interested in the visual arts with no financial support. Furthermore, in the absence of the Citigroup internships, the competition for the Arts and Entertainment internship is likely to increase.    

For the summer of 2002, Citigroup internship recipients were involved in a variety of projects with organizations across the country.  Some projects were in the Williamstown area at locations such as Mass MoCA and the Clark Art Institute while other students ranged further afield, working for organizations such as the New York City Ballet.  

One of the recipients, Emily Glenn ’03, who worked at CBS Casting, was glad to gain experience in a field that she may go into after graduating from Williams.  For her, the Citigroup internship was critical, since CBS only employs college students for unpaid internships, not salaried positions.

Kassamali agreed, saying that it is hard to break into the arts world and these internships give fantastic opportunities. The key difference now is that students will have to search a little harder for internship opportunities if they want to be compensated monetarily for their work. According to Kassamali, the money is out there and students should put more effort into research and think about writing to Williams alumni as well.

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