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Performing Arts Administration Panel Shares Steps for Internship Success

Large room filled with students facing panelists

On Friday, February 23, 2024, the Performing Arts Administration (PAA) program at NYU Steinhardt hosted a dynamic panel featuring industry professionals, alumni, and current internship students who shared their insights and experiences. The conversation was moderated by PAA adjunct faculty Tiffany Garcia who teaches the Professional Development in Performing Arts Administration course.


Sungah Han
General Manager, HERE Arts Center

Heather McCartney 
Director of Education and Family Programs,The Joyce Theater Foundation

Yiqing (Lana) Zhang (’23)
Production Office Assistant, The Public Theater

Natalie Farrell (’23)
Executive Assistant to the President and CEO, New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Haley Kanzer (’24)
Theatre Operations Intern, Jujamcyn Theaters

Sungah Han, with a background in several industries, highlighted the importance of understanding the business aspects of the arts. Heather McCartney shared her journey from dancer to arts educator and administrator and emphasized the need to embrace change and adaptability in their career. Lana Zhang talked about her desire to create a diverse and accessible theater community and underlined the importance of being open to exploration and change.

Haley Kanzer discussed her transition from performer to arts administrator and finding fulfillment in her internship. Natalie Farrell emphasized the importance of building community and being open to new opportunities. The panelists also shared strategies for internship searches, which included being flexible, networking, and visualizing success.

From the manager’s perspective, Sungah and Heather highlighted the importance of authenticity, flexibility, and a sense of humor in interns and employees. They also underscored the value of personal research and networking in the internship search process.

Six panelists from Performing Arts Administration posing for group picture

The panelists’ knowledge and experiences provided valuable advice for students. Read more of the highlights below:

What resources have you leveraged in your job/internship search that you can share?

Natalie Farrell: “Put yourself out there, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. NYU offers abundant opportunities and resources. Online platforms like LinkedIn, NYFA, and are valuable resources. Conduct research, network, and take the leap. Remember, you're taking a chance on others, and they're doing the same, so be genuine.”

Lana Zhang: “Success is a blend of effort and chance. Sometimes, you may not land your ideal role. It's about being in the right place at the right time. I could discuss endlessly the tweaks I made to my cover letters and resumes, but ultimately, luck played a role. Remember, rejection doesn't define your capabilities.” 

Haley Kanzer: “You'll know when an organization is the right fit. I faced numerous rejections—it's crucial to realize you have all the necessary qualities and don’t let rejection dishearten you. When you receive an opportunity, express gratitude and showcase your best self, as the journey is challenging. If you can't be authentic at a place, it's not where you belong.”

From the manager’s perspective, what qualities do you want from PAA interns and employees?

Sungah Han: “Be adaptable and receptive to change. These traits will show during the interview process. Additionally, be genuine since, if it's not a good match, it will be detrimental for both parties. It's crucial to present your true self and be candid when expressing your thoughts. The fit must be right. Furthermore, job requirements vary depending on the role. Some positions may demand meticulousness, while others require a more personable approach.”

Heather McCartney: "I also value a sense of humor. We need to have good rapport. The intern needs to be a good fit because the mentor invests a lot of energy in working with them. We don't want to feel it's a wasted effort. Hence, it's vital to demonstrate your authenticity."

What strategies did you employ for your internship search?

Natalie Farrell: “Be deliberate in your research and your approach to finding jobs and internships. Envision your desired outcome and begin to make it a reality. Dress and behave as if you already have the job and visualize your daily commute. Embrace it fully. Take yourself seriously and act with purpose. Your network is only as strong as the effort you put into utilizing it. Persistence is key; while many are willing to help, you will often need to prove yourself.”

Haley Kanzer: “First impressions are crucial. Whenever you have a spare moment, connect with individuals in different departments. Utilize your resources and engage with alumni—they are eager to assist you. You never know who you might encounter. Authenticity is key; let your interactions stem from a sincere place. Focus on building meaningful relationships.”

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