New York Art Internships: Getting Started

If you’re just getting started with a career in the arts, the connections you make in the beginning can help direct your professional success for years to come. That’s why New York art internships can be a smart first (or even second or third) step for your long term professional plan.

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What’s So Special About New York Art Internships In Particular?

New York art internships offer an experience like no other with skyline view like this one.

Seeking out New York art internships – not to mention any accompanying move – can be overwhelming. Breaking the process up will help. Image courtesy of

It’s no surprise that artists and aspiring arts administrators travel from around the world to explore opportunities in New York. It’s regarded as one of the world’s top three arts destinations and offers some of the best opportunities for lifelong careers and connections in the arts.

In fact, despite anecdotal accounts to the contrary, a larger percentage of total resident artists make a living in New York City than they do in most other parts of the United States or the United States as a whole.

That’s important to remember when getting started with a New York art internships search. Because New York has a more concentrated creative community, the network you start to build now will reap benefits for years to come whether you stay in New York, return home, or move on to another city.

The effect on your network can in fact be compounding. In any field – but perhaps more so in arts administration and curation – people move from job to job and city to city. Many of them get some start in New York or are aspiring to end up in New York.

For example, someone may be an artist but also work in a New York gallery. Then they move on to arts administration for a nonprofit in another city. This is quite common. As a result, networks can expand rapidly in the arts both in terms of contacts and geography.

Important Tips for Your New York Art Internship Search

Keeping that key difference for New York art internships in mind, here are some important aspects of the process to help you along:

Be prepared to leverage each contact you make in the process.

Regardless of the city, it’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile, for example. Don’t worry if you don’t have much experience to list – you’re working on that. One of the big benefits of your search for New York art internships will be the contacts you collect in the process. You need a tool to help you track – and leverage – these valuable contacts.

Cast a broad net.

With an account, you can not only monitor relevant internships in your field, you can discover new ones. Let’s say ceramics is your thing. Don’t just hold out for ceramics-specific internships. An internship in even a tangentially related organization can help you build your network. If you’re new to New York, there are probably opportunities you haven’t thought about.

Keep an open mind.

Museums, schools, and nonprofits aren’t the only sources for internship opportunities. With New York’s concentrated creative community, there are opportunities with individual artists, studios, collectives, and galleries. These can be even more rewarding because they tend to be more personalized.

Paid or unpaid?

As we’ve detailed elsewhere regarding the pros and cons of careers in the arts, compensation can be a sticky subject. Be prepared for the fact that most internships are unpaid. By casting a broad net, as mentioned above, you can have an idea of what’s available.

If you already have your degree, and the internship is advertised as unpaid, you might use it as a brief stepping stone to any paid positions that are available or will be available. Regardless of where you end up for your internship, you will likely need additional financial support for your lifestyle.

New York of course has a high cost of living, yet that short term sacrifice can be balanced with the long term positive impact to your CV or resume. An internship is, after all, a real world extension of the classroom. Be strategic. A $3/hour difference between two paid internships isn’t going to close the financial gap between living in Brooklyn and commuting from Albany.

A Lifelong Impact

In each of the above respects, New York art internships are unique. Few other cities globally have the number of opportunities and potential for professional connections. You may find you even want to stay.

Regardless of your next move, the experience you gain and the space it occupies on your CV will have a lifelong impact.

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(865) 630-0626

(865) 630-0626