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A Summer I Never Imagined: Interning During a Pandemic

by Maggie Nowakowski on Aug 10, 2020
A Summer I Never Imagined: Interning During a Pandemic

After realizing I’d be finishing my third year of college remotely in my Wisconsin home, it was difficult to picture what the summer of 2020 had in store. As a rising Senior at Miami University of Ohio, the pressure was on to gain real world experience in the industries of my interest. My futuristic tendencies had already dreamt up a seemingly perfect summer in Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York, but internships continued to go remote and my goals began to pivot.

Almost a year prior my mom had sent me a Facebook message about the formation of a new Milwaukee Organization, Imagine MKE. As a Marketing and Arts Management student this was in my wheelhouse, but being out of state for school I wasn’t super connected to the Milwaukee arts and culture scene. Now looking back, I don’t know what drew me back to their website early this spring. I knew they didn’t have any open internship positions, but I felt aligned to their vision and decided to reach out. Now it is hard to believe I am in my last week as the Marketing and Communications summer intern for Imagine MKE.

People use the cliché saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun” frequently, but that was true for me this summer while working with Imagine MKE. It seems like a stretched-out dream, and there’s countless reasons I have felt fortunate to spend this unpredictable time collaborating with this team. Aside from adding some structure to my self-quarantined lifestyle, Imagine MKE has helped me grow as a professional and build my skillset in various ways.

For many, working virtually brings anxiety, especially when coming in as an intern, but I was amazed at the interactive and inclusive community Imagine created. Every week I joined in on team check-ins to work on team connectedness. I don’t know if they realized, but as a new member of the team this was influential on my work and involvement. While I wasn’t in an office, I was able to learn bits about each of my coworkers and humanize the virtual interaction.

One repeating activity we focused on was our StrengthsFinder. Looking at our five key strengths determined by Gallop’s StrengthsFinder, we took meeting time to learn, reflect, and connect on how our strengths affect us in daily personal and professional life. During these activities, I felt a heightened awareness of myself and the Imagine team. I valued this added time to listen and discuss each of our perspectives. I gained a completely new outlook on myself that will certainly impact my working style and learned how to better collaborate with the team.

Additionally, working with Imagine changed my scope and perception of the Milwaukee arts scene. Growing up as an Irish Dancer and spending the past few years as a professional dancer with the Trinity Irish Dance Company, I developed tunnel vision focused on the niche dance industry. Plus, being away from Milwaukee for most of the year, I didn’t invest much time to relate to the city’s arts scene. In this position, I discovered the various organizations and individuals who are really elevating Art in Milwaukee. From muralists like Ken Brown to musicians like B-Free, I saw the many different spaces where the arts can thrive in the city.

Now that I head back for more remote learning, I am inspired by my internship experience to continue to push myself and my community. Just from the short time I was with Imagine, I could feel the energy to change and be the convener Milwaukee Arts need to grow. From academics to personal passion projects, I want to foster the same initiative and dedication each Imagine MKE staff member possesses. Even with the small sliver of time I spent with this team, I have certainly learned a great deal. I am excited to see how this journey continues for Imagine MKE, and to witness them revitalize the Milwaukee community.

Maggie Nowakowski is a Marketing and Arts Management student at Miami University of Ohio and native Wisconsinite. She served as Imagine MKE’s first intern, and helping work on Marketing and Communications project during this summer. She became passionate about the Arts and Culture industry when she began performing professionally with the Chicago-Based Trinity Irish Dance Company, and has since continued studying dance and art in business at college.

Maggie is passionate about the relationship with Art and Business, and looks to expand her knowledge as she finishes her undergraduate studies. If you’d like to learn more about her you can connect on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn

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