Development Intern from Lesley University - Emily Laird

March 14, 2016 by Laura

Development Intern from Lesley University - Emily Laird
By Alice Lesch Kelly
Alice is a writer in Newton who specializes in health and the arts. Her website is

*Update: Emily is now working as a staff member in The Umbrella's Development office! 

Visitors to The Umbrella experience a dazzling array of artistic expression. But what they typically don’t see while they’re enjoying exhibits, taking classes, and viewing performances is the tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work that makes all of these offerings possible.
     Some of that work is shouldered by interns such as Emily Laird, a senior at Lesley University in Cambridge.
     Emily, an Art History major, works in The Umbrella’s Development Department. She did her first internship at The Umbrella in summer 2015, and found it so satisfying that she applied for a second one in the fall.
     The Umbrella takes on several interns each year to work in various departments, including Development and Marketing, Education, and the Volunteer Office. Internships vary in length and are tailored to meet interns’ interests and school requirements.
     In the Development Department, Emily helps The Umbrella with outreach for donations, grants, and other financial support that make such a wide range of services possible. She tracks donations, keeps files in order, helps maintain the donor database, works on identifying potential corporate and community sponsors, and helps brainstorm content for brochures and mailings.
     She also helped out at special events, such as the Lyle Lovett concert in June and the Bruce Hornsby concert in October.
     “In the Development Office, we remind people of what makes The Umbrella unique, and how lucky they are to have it in their community,” Emily says.
     “There’s such a breadth of activities going on here across all different artistic media.”

A Lifelong Love of Art

A native of Whately, Massachusetts, Emily has always had a passion for art and art history. Although she doesn’t consider herself an artist, she loves experiencing art, and is particularly drawn to work from the Renaissance. At Lesley, Emily is studying art history with a concentration on art created in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
     Emily brings strong skills to The Umbrella. One of her previous internships was at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, where she worked in the Public Relations Office. She also has experience with social media and promotion campaigns.
     The Umbrella welcomes interns with various backgrounds, experience levels, and skill sets.
     “The internship program has been a very positive experience for our organization,” Kathy Warren, Volunteer Coordinator, says. “We would like to have more interns from Lesley and other schools.”
     Lesley gives Emily college credits for her internships at The Umbrella. As part of her program at Lesley, Emily takes a class with other students who are doing internships. In the class, the students reflect on what they are learning from their internships and supplement their experiences with additional study.
     “When I talk about what I do at my internship, the other students say I’m lucky to have it,” Emily says. “Some internships are just grunt work. But not this one—I’m really learning things, and it’s such an interesting place to be.”
     Emily’s Umbrella colleagues have nothing but praise for her.
     “Emily has been a great asset to our team,” says Katie Cimet, Development Associate at The Umbrella. “She has a positive attitude and the ability to multitask, which is key in any fast-paced environment. She is professional, smart, kind, and a hard worker.”
     Warren agrees. “Emily has a poised, approachable manner. Although she is busy with the demands of her degree program and the tasks of two back-to-back internships at The Umbrella, she manages her time, is flexible and willing to help as new tasks come up. She has had a big impact on the work here.”

On-the-Job Learning

Emily appreciates that the people she works with take time to give advice, answer questions, and provide helpful feedback. “It’s cool to know that my work is making a difference not just to the Development Office but to the organization as a whole.”
     Cimet is pleased that Emily has enjoyed her internship, and hopes more students from Lesley and other local schools will apply. “Emily has been a great support to our development team,” Cimet says. “Our goal with her internship was to expose her to multiple aspects of development as well as involve her in a couple projects from start to finish. She has invested a lot into this internship and we hope she has gotten a lot out of it in return.”
     Working at The Umbrella has changed the way Emily is thinking about her future. When she began her internship, she had planned to go to graduate school for art history. But now, with her experience in the Development Office, she’s feeling drawn to Arts Management or Arts Administration. She may apply to the Arts Administration graduate program at Boston University, with a goal of someday building a career at a nonprofit community arts center like The Umbrella.
     “The Umbrella is a living, breathing community,” Emily says. “It’s not like a typical office. As I walk through the building, I hear music from a ballet class, I see a new exhibit going up, I chat with artists who are taking a coffee break. The art is actually happening here. I love that.”