How do you balance two summer internships? University of Chicago student Christina Tuccillo shares how she manages to stay on top of her two positions at the Smart Museum, how important it is to share your job search, and how she found a work environment that matched her energy level and enthusiasm.
Name: Christina Tuccillo
Job Title: Art to Live With/Exhibitions and Publications Intern at the Smart Museum
Location: Chicago, IL
College: University of Chicago
Year: Rising third-year
What are you doing this summer?
I’m working with the Smart Museum in two different departments. The Art to Live With program gives UChicago students the ability to rent original art for free to hang in their dorm rooms for a year, and I’ve been working a lot on researching, conserving, and framing those works of art, as well as taking charge of the student outreach.
In my other position as an Exhibitions and Publications Intern, I’m working on a lot of behind the scenes projects, organizing the timeline of the museum’s different exhibitions, and helping museum publications go to print!
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I still honestly have no clue what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want to remain involved with the arts and humanities. I’ve thought a lot about teaching or working with museums or other public institutions in some kind of community outreach capacity.
How did you get your internship?
I found my internship through my university’s Handshake page. I had no professional connection to the museum, but working with my career advisor was a huge, huge help.
What do you wish you had known during your internship search?
I wish I had just known how to relax! I was so stressed throughout the entire process, and I think that might have been reflected in my applications. Looking back, I wish I’d been more open about the whole thing. I think just having more people–whether that be my career advisor, my friends, or even just my mom–look over cover letters and applications would have given me a much stronger sense of security.
When it comes to jobs in the arts and humanities, especially museum jobs, interviews are definitely important. Throughout all the interviews I went to, I found that all of the people in these places were really passionate about and invested in the arts and in their institution’s mission. Mirroring that same energy and excitement was absolutely key for me, especially considering the kind of community engagement I wanted to facilitate.
What does a day in the life look like?
Since I split my week between two different positions, my days can look drastically different! My work day starts at 9, and I normally wake up early enough to get ready and throw a lunch together. When I get to the museum, I check in with whichever boss of mine I’m working with that day to see if there’s any new projects to work on.
When I work on Exhibitions and Publications, my work is much more behind the scenes; I could be working on labels for an upcoming exhibition, proofreading a catalogue, or reaching out to artists and museums.
When it comes to the Art to Live With program, I get to do a wide range of museum jobs with a relatively small collection. My work involves registration, conservation, research into artists and their works, as well as community outreach.
The other day, I spent the morning researching old auction records, then my boss and I met with an MFA student who created two new works for our collection, and I spent the afternoon planning and writing up some posts for our Instagram.
How has this job changed what you see yourself doing in the future?
I’m really grateful that I’ve been able to work with these two departments specifically, since I’ve gotten to experience a wide range of different museum jobs in a relatively short period of time. Working with the Art to Live With program has really fostered a new interest in more community-based arts outreach. It’s such a unique and extremely rare way of interacting with art, and now–even though I’m still not sure exactly what I ultimately want to do with my life–I hope I’ll have the opportunity in my future to foster a love of the arts in others.