Inside The Internship Program at WaterFire Providence

More and more employees are looking to internships when evaluating potential hires. While classroom education is the backbone of workforce training, employers are usually more concerned with your work experience than your qualifications and internships are often the only way to get the work experience. In fact, in many of the more competitive job markets it is essential to set you apart from the others.

The WaterFire Internship Program gives students the opportunity for hands on involvement right at the heart of Rhode Island’s popular event. A truly unique experience, WaterFire interns are very much seen as critical team members in the creation and execution of WaterFire. The busy nature of the WaterFire season, along with the essential tasks that must be completed in the creation of each event, allow for interns to play an incredibly important role in the success of WaterFire.

Claire Schlessinger
Claire Schlessinger (in the center wearing a t-shirt) prepares to lead a special ops team at a 2012 WaterFire lighting.

Claire Schlessinger, a soon to be graduate of Brown University and 2012 Intern agreed, “I really had a lot of ownership over my work and felt like what I did as an intern really mattered. It was very gratifying at the end of each event to see how my work really had an impact on the success of the event.”

While WaterFire is a relatively small nonprofit, the scale of its production is vast and requires many different departments and skill sets. Each branch plays a critical role in the creation of WaterFire, as do every department’s interns. Although interns are often placed in positions which enhance their existing skill set, they are also pushed to learn various new abilities.

It could also be said, WaterFire Interns quickly learn that their role is not the typical ‘paper- pushing’ internship some can be. As Gary St. Laurent, soon to be Johnson and Wales’ University grad and 2011 Intern put it while interning with the Department of Operations, “Every day I learned something new, both in office and at the event. At the end of the day, I was really made to feel like I was part of the WaterFire team, helping to make it all possible.”

WaterFire Staff
Elvis Custodio, Peter Mello, Sake Chan and Gary St. Laurent

WaterFire is very much a team environment where staff and interns work closely together to make each and every event better than the last. While still reporting to and learning from their supervisors, Interns are highly encouraged to voice their opinions and utilize their creativity in projects.

In short, WaterFire Interns often come away with more experience and a larger skill set that they are able to bring back to the classroom and into their work than they had originally expected. Regardless of the internship, students should expect to learn about elements of event planning, public relations, design, staffing management, and so much more. The opportunity to learn and grow as an individual is endless with WaterFire, so long as you remain open and willing to new experiences.

If you would like to learn more about existing WaterFire internships, please visit the internship page of our website.

All Interns should apply with a resume and cover letter.

About the author

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I've worked at WaterFire since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career here I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. I have recently transitioned to role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I find it very rewarding working to increase engagement with our supporters both locally and globally.

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