In 2006, Jennifer Reid participated in the Getty Foundation’s Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program with an internship in the Education department of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Fast-forward six years, and Jennifer is still working in museum education, but now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and with an M.A. under her belt.
Below is the fourth and final installment of a series of alumni interviews we’ve featured this summer to celebrate 20 years of supporting internships at arts organizations across L.A. County through the Getty Foundation’s program. You can read the other three interviews here.
Even though I’m sure you’ve experienced a lot since your Getty internship, you are still in a similar field. How does your present employment relate to your experience with the internship program?
I’m currently the content specialist for teacher programs at LACMA, where I manage Evenings for Educators, LACMA’s annual professional development series. I also visit LAUSD schools to lead professional development sessions, in which I help teachers integrate the visual arts and our museum’s collection into core curriculum subjects.
Before making my way to LACMA, I was a Getty Multicultural Summer Intern in 2006 working in the the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Education Department. I assisted with community outreach programming and worked with all kinds of organizations around L.A. I greeted community groups when they arrived at the museum for tours, and I even created a draft of audio tours for blind/low-vision visitors! Between these experiences, I completed my undergraduate studies and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Is it sheer coincidence, or did you know that museum education was the field for you?
Before the internship, I didn’t even know the field existed and now, I truly don’t know where I’d be without it! My summer at the Getty really opened up the door for me to my current profession.
So I imagine you have lots of memorable stories about your experience working with students and the public.
Actually one of my favorite lasting memories about my Getty summer is definitely a behind-the-scenes experience in Robert Irwin’s Central Garden. A couple of fellow interns were working with the horticulturalist, who gave us a tour of the garden and talked with us about its conception as a living work of art, as well as its seasonal maintenance. He mentioned the not-so-glamorous task of descending into the garden’s basin or pool of water to pick mites off the azaleas at the height of mite infestation season. I was hooked on the idea instantly and begged him to let me join!
On one of the last days of my internship, I met him and the other interns in the garden at dawn equipped with rain boots and a camera. We picked bugs for about an hour, but I couldn’t have been happier! I took photos to document the feeling of being immersed in such an iconic work and every time I return to the Getty, I recall this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
How has the multicultural aspect of the Getty’s program resonated with you?
My own ethnic identity has definitely played a part in my career path. I grew up in a homogenous neighborhood of L.A. and, at times, found it difficult to be one of only a couple students of color at school or in the community. My mom enrolled me in art classes at a young age, where I absolutely thrived using art-making as a tool for communication. Then as an emerging adult when I did the Getty internship program, I found I was constantly discovering new things about myself, about others, and about how the world works. The Getty’s program definitely provides a physical and intellectual space to engage peers in conversation about topics important to our community. It sparks a cross-institutional discourse about why minorities are underrepresented in so many of today’s fields, not just the arts, and what you, as a future leader, can do about it.
For any 2012 interns out there who might be reading this, what advice would you give?
I’d tell current interns to use the internship and the connections that you’ve made as a gateway. Use the knowledge and experience that you’ve gained to affect change in your community, whatever or whomever you consider that to be.
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