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Richard Giang, Creative Content & PR Intern
Apr 06, 2022
Julia Mayer is a senior at Ohio State studying Public Management, Leadership, and Policy with minors in English and Spanish. She is a Development Writing Intern under Karen Simonian. Below are highlights of a conversation with Julia about her time interning this fall for the Wex.
What initially drew you to apply to work at an institution like the Wex and how did you choose your specific role?
I really want to go into a career that’s very writing-based and a lot of my past experience has been with development departments of nonprofit organizations. Over the summer I actually worked at another art museum, so this seemed like a logical next step because it bridged my interest in writing with my previous experiences. It just seemed like a perfect opportunity.
Which museum did you work at last summer and did you see many similarities between the two institutions?
The Toledo Museum of Art. Yes, I think that there’s definitely a culture of belonging which I think is really important. I see that here and in Toledo. I think that the Wex is definitely more contemporary, Toledo does [contemporary] too, but I feel like the Wex deals with more topical issues in our society, like with our film screenings and our fellowships they center around things like social justice and current events that are happening in the world. So I think that the Wex is in the more cutting-edge sphere of talking about these issues.
What is something you’ll always remember about working at the Wex?
I think that what I like the most about working at the Wex is that the people in my department are very cool and we’re pretty close, so we meet up in person once a month just to catch up. I like that close-knit nature of me, my two supervisors, and Brooke, a co-intern in the department. I really like that camaraderie and flexibility because a lot of times Karen will be like, “I understand that you’re a student and you’re a senior and your schedule is very hectic, if you can’t do this by this date we can reassess.” I like how flexible they are, especially with regards to student life, I feel like they’re very in tune with the student population, which is important because it’s on a college campus. So I guess one thing to take away would be to get to know your coworkers outside of work, too, and make efforts to learn more about people because it’ll make working together a lot easier if you understand each other.
How has it been having a co-intern in your department?
It’s nice! Brooke is really good at what she does, so a lot of the time I’ll ask her, “What do you think of this?” It’s nice to have another person to bounce ideas off of. And obviously, my workload would be a lot harder if there wasn’t another person doing half of it.
What are your post-grad plans?
I applied for Fulbright, so I’ll find out in a few months. If I get that, I'll be teaching English in South Korea. That would be best case. Otherwise I’m hoping to find a job in a communications role. I’ve worked a lot with nonprofits and that’s what my degree is in, so it makes sense, but I do want to experience communications outside of the nonprofit sector to branch out a little bit. My plans are pretty open and I’m ready to roll with the punches applying to jobs [over spring] semester.
What draws you to working in the art space specifically?
I’ve always thought of myself as a more creative person. You know the left-brain, right-brain kind of thing. I don’t know which one is more creative but I’m more on that side of things. I did a lot with theater and performing arts through high school, so I’ve always been connected to the arts in that way. It was really the best way for me to express myself and I know that without that experience, I wouldn’t be who I am today. It has a really big impact on people like me who need the arts as an escape. I think for the Wexner Center specifically, we’re definitely selling an experience to people through art and I think it could be very cathartic, so that’s something that drew me to working in the arts sphere. I know how much it impacts people’s lives in a very big way in terms of emotional well-being and education. I really love watching people create and being on the frontlines of that is something I’ve always been interested in.
Something I’ve realized is that at the Wex you can really feel the community through the art and vice versa. How have you been engaging with the community and how have you felt that in your own experience?
What I do on a weekly basis is a lot of grant writing and a lot of summaries of projects. Trying to take someone else’s project and explain it using my own words and ideas is really interesting because I want to make sure I’m imparting the right thing about someone else’s art. I didn’t make it. I don't truly understand what went into that—the creative process. So, I think that understanding the Wex’s culture and all of the artists within it is really important to making these well-informed summaries and grant reports. I definitely think that has brought me closer to the community because it helps to really immerse myself in the community to learn a lot more about these projects. Reading a lot on the website, and trying to understand the Wex’s culture as a whole, I try to go in there every once in a while to check it out, so that’s another way I feel closer to the community even though I’m working remotely.
Who’s someone that inspires you in your line of work in or out of the Wex?
This might be kind of cliché, but my mom. She’s the one that got me into the nonprofit sphere. She’s currently the president of a foundation in Akron that gives grants to arts nonprofits in the area. I grew up watching her do her work and all of the people she has impacted, and I thought that was really cool and something I would be interested in, so she’s definitely a huge role model in this line of work. Additionally, my main supervisor at Toledo, the grant writer, was amazing. She really took me under her wing and taught me a lot of new things, and I’m very grateful to her for that because I was new to the museum sphere as a whole. Having someone as experienced as she was to help me along was very important during my time there.