Internship Spotlight: Mari Takeda at The Kennedy Center

Interns_Summer19_168This summer, 2nd-year student and ARAD Social Media Coordinator Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20) interned at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. as the Corporate and Foundations Relations Intern. In this #ARADInternshipSpotlight, Mari shares her thoughts and experiences at the Kennedy Center.

How did you enjoy the internship?

I had an amazing time interning this summer at the Kennedy Center. As a Northern Virginia native and a former student of the some of the Center’s educational programs, it was so great to come back home for the summer and intern here. I got to work with a really talented team in Corporate and Foundations Relations, and was able to learn so much from them. 

What kinds of projects did you do?

I primarily worked on drafting acknowledgement letters to donors, helping prepare briefings of prospective and current donors, and assisting in preparing final reports to foundations. Since the Washington National Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra both function under the Kennedy Center, I got to work on a variety of projects including their education programs and artistic programming. 

What is the internship program at the Kennedy Center like? 

The internship program at the Kennedy Center is set up as a cohort-type program, similar to ARAD. Every week, all the interns come together for KC Class, where we learn about various aspects of performing arts administration including mission/vision/values, education, fundraising, strategic planning, etc., and work on a group project. We also had “Look-In” sessions with various departments throughout the Center to learn about their roles and responsibilities. There was also a resume workshop, speed networking event, and plenty of opportunities to pursue informational interviews with anyone at the Kennedy Center. The program was really supportive of exploring my personal interests and encouraged me to meet as many people and learn as much as I could during my time there.

Was there anything that surprised you?

I knew that the Kennedy Center was a large institution, but I was truly surprised by how big the organization is. There is always so much going on – from major broadway productions passing through, the opening of the REACH, local and national education programs, and major annual events like the Kennedy Center Honors and Mark Twain Prize – there is always something exciting happening at the Center! 

I also got to learn more in depth about the Center’s affiliation with the national government and was surprised to learn about some of the significant roles it plays in the organization. For example, members of the Board of Trustees at the Center are appointed by the President of the United States. Other things include how the building and some programs are funded.


Did you catch any shows at the Kennedy Center? 

I got to see The Second City’s America: It’s Complicated show while I was there! I love sketch comedy and seeing improv live was so fun. Also, my desk was on a balcony that overlooks the Millenium Stage, where there’s a free performance every day at 6pm, so I got to hear the soundcheck for those performances every afternoon!

What else did you do in D.C.?

The KC interns took a trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was incredible. In June, I helped out at the DC Jazz Festival (where I did my very first internship four years ago!) and got to see Snarky Puppy perform. And being home in Virginia, I got to catch up with a couple of friends I haven’t seen since high school, which was a lot of fun. 

What’s next?

I’m looking forward to the Fall semester! I’m excited for my classes, continuing my role as the ARAD social media coordinator for the rest of the semester, and being back in NYC!


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