Q&A with a Kennedy Center Education Intern

Name: Laura Rubio

Major: Communication, but also I have another major in music, specifically music composition.

Intern placement: National Symphony Orchestra Education Intern

Department: Education

How I landed this internship: When I graduated from communications school, I went into teaching. First music, then high school/pre-college. And from my communications perspective, I had done a lot of work promoting classical music and classical artists.

Typical day on the job: First, I go to my email. I’m helping coordinate the program In-School Ensembles, which is a whole-year program. And the past intern did a good job in selecting different schools and artists, so what I’ve done was match the artists available to the schools requesting them to perform. It was a little bit hectic in February and March, but it’s definitely settled down. Then, I go through the application platform for our recurrent open-applications for our Summer Music Institute, so it’s a lot of troubleshooting, guiding students, archiving, and a lot of office duties. Which I have to say, I actually really like!

What I didn’t know when I started: I came in with no expectations! I just came to see what I could find, and I’ve learned a lot. I had no idea that a symphony could have so many different educational perspectives and initiatives beyond simply putting on a production to younger audiences — and believe me, it’s way beyond that!

From left to right education team members Xavier Boudreaux, Ashi Day, Laura Rubio, Jennifer Bowman

Biggest surprise: My biggest surprise was how many people are involved. There’s someone who has to go after the different schools we’d like to work with, there’s the musicians themselves, and so much more.

Skills gained: Communication and writing skills, of course, but also organizational skills — and thinking “big picture.” Sometimes I can get too absorbed in my way of organizing, but then I have to remember “this isn’t only for you, you’re working in a bigger team.”

What I’ve learned about the “real world”: I would call it the “bigger world,” because I graduated with my first degree about four years ago, and music composition takes about 8 years, so I’m still in the undergrad process for that. However, I’ve been working for quite a few years now. I’ve learned that international relations and communications aren’t where they should be. I’m from Mexico, and I know that so many of the orchestras in the States are not talking amongst each other — not talking with foreign orchestras. I’ve learned that there is a world out there with a lot of people interested in how we keep classical music alive and how we cultivate that interest in younger audiences. That was mind-blowing. Now, I am willing to take that “citizen of the world” feeling and jump into the conversation and share that information with my peers.

Favorite project: The In-School Ensembles project. I’ve actually attended some performances and they are so fun! Even as a grown-up, for a moment, you’re back to being a kid. The applications for Summer Music Institute were also wonderful because of the students’ writings on their motivations. It’s very touching to see, and it makes you feel happy and passionate about their passions for music.

Proudest accomplishment: Just being here and listening to the orchestra, which I have to say is one of the best orchestras I have ever listened to. This internship placement is just starting, which is to say that the real impact is going to come later on. So I’ve been broadcasting what I’ve been doing in my internship to social media and I’ve gotten a lot of people interested. People who are actually in change-making positions, like people in the education part of the state government of Nuevo Leon where I attended school, and some people with the orchestra in my home city of Torreon, have been asking me with curiosity about the NSO. And I think that is a great accomplishment because it’s starting a conversation. We need to start talking because there is so much that can be shared, so much we can learn from. Sometimes I feel like this is too much and I’m not going to change the world, but other days I think, “Why not give it a try?”

What would you do differently: I definitely say going to more shows. Classical music can be very engulfing so I feel like I’ve missed a lot of the other things going on, like theater.

Advice for future interns: Even if you’re a theater major, go to the symphony or the ballet or the opera. Go to every show no matter how tired you are! Don’t waste any time, just schedule every informational interview, go to every show, and talk to everyone. And keep a journal: write down everything and every name. And if you want to be in this position specifically, you have to love Excel!

What’s next: I’m not exactly sure, but I’m planning to get a position with a symphony back home. Not many people are willing to make changes, and so I hope to become an advocate for the arts — I’m sure it’s going to be lifelong work.

Photograph taken by Margaret Wroblewski

Looking for an internship to help explore a career in the arts? Check out the Kennedy Center’s internship opportunities and apply to join the talented ranks of our #KenCenInterns!