Hey everyone! It’s Alex again. You might remember me from talking about getting my first job a bit ago.
Now that I’m in the thick of things, I wanted to give you all some updates on what work’s been like this summer!
I’m working at Eyebeam, an arts-technology non-profit in New York City. While we’re a small team of about 10 people, we just celebrated our 20 year anniversary. It really brought into focus just how much has been done in such a short period of time.
Eyebeam is all about using art as a means of understanding technology and its impact on the world. Every year, we host events and provide artists with the resources to make cutting-edge art about important issues. This year, we’re focusing on the theme of “access” and what access means in today’s world.
The specific program I’m working on is Digital Day Camp, which extends our goal to high school students. We’re hosting two 2-week sessions of workshops on everything from motion capture to lip reading--all hands-on, and very Olin-y. Working here has made me realize that a LOT of work goes into running a camp.
My first day, I got an orientation packet lovingly crafted by my team members to help me set up my email, Google accounts, contacts--“Have you ever used Slack before?” "All the time back at Olin!"--and more.
My second and third days, I purchased an unlimited Metro card and rode around Manhattan and Brooklyn taping posters to every lamppost I could find.
Thus I am now intimately acquainted with the New York subway system, which serves me well on the weekends and evenings. Though we’ll get to that later.
A big part of my work has been outreach, which means trying to recruit students and teachers for our camp. After my postering adventures, I learned the art of telemarketing, going down a spreadsheet of schools and calling to see if their students might be interested in our summer program. While I like to joke about it being “telemarketing”, I think it’s a lot more beneficial than the average spam call. Our program is specifically geared toward giving low-income students the opportunity to learn more about technology and art; we’re reaching out to help share information with more people, not to make money.
In talking on the phone, you realize how open-minded a lot of people are. I came in thinking that nobody would give me an inch, but a lot of the people I contacted were happy to help and even excited about the program. I think it helps that I’m enthusiastic about what we’re doing, but it feels really validating to connect with someone who wants to share what you have with their students. It’s… quite a bit of work to call hundreds of people a week, but it’s not so bad when you feel it working.
I’ve also been able to review our student and teacher applications, and it’s so impressive to see the different kinds of art people make. I’ve felt very inspired since working here, especially getting to see what Eyebeam’s artist residents do. Just like in our education department, I’ve overheard quite a few conversations with residents about making connections and securing resources for future projects. Though the people we work with have their own singular creativity, they are constantly sharing and collaborating to make sure as many people as possible can get together and inspire each other.
I was also lucky to get to attend our 20th anniversary event, the Fête of the Future, and see just how many people have been touched by the work at Eyebeam. From professional artists to former students, museum curators, musicians, and even the founder of littleBits (an Eyebeam Alum!) you get the sense that beyond the futuristic appeal of arts and technology, the work is all about people. It’s only thanks to the generosity and kindness of the people around us that we’re able to succeed and do what we do.
A photo of me at our anniversary event, armed with my embroidery kit. Photo by Christine Butler.
A photo showing the awesome graphics for the event, made in collaboration with Mother (design firm) and with lighting by The Family. Photo by Christine Butler.
When I’m not at work making phone calls, attending meetings, organizing spreadsheets, or doing any other number of nuts-and-bolts things to get our camp ready to go, I get to hang out in New York City. This is, I think, one of my favorite parts of my internship so far. Having the opportunity to live independently in a city so rich with things to do is great--especially coming from South Florida, which isn’t as easy to get around. And even though I’m eating at home most of the time, I’d be remiss not to mention that delicious food of nearly any flavor you can imagine is available all over.
A few weeks ago, I got to geek out at Kinokuniya and Book Off, stores full of Japanese books and merchandise (so now I can decorate my dorm room with more anime posters, which I’m sure will be a good look). Just this weekend, I met up with some Olin friends and saw “The Prom” on Broadway--my first Broadway musical ever!--which was fantastic. I’ve also been on the hunt for zine fairs and other artsy events, though I’ve been sated stopping in the rotating market gallery that I pass by to get to work.
Me and Eriel '22 at the theater waiting for the Broadway show to start.
Living on my own was a little daunting. My mom stayed with me the first few days while I was getting my bearings, but I actually didn’t move into the house I’m currently in until after she was gone. I’ve honestly been surprised at how easy it’s been to live independently, especially in a city as notoriously overwhelming as New York. I mostly survive off of Trader Joe’s dinners and sandwiches, but I haven’t ONCE run out of anything yet. And I think I’ve been pretty good about keeping track of my money, especially considering my location. The most important thing, both in my work life and my home life, is that I feel like there’s people looking out for me. My experience so far has shown me that there’s a lot of people ready to support you, even when you leave the Olin bubble.
Things aren’t always easy--there are times I long to go home a few hours before it’s time to clock out, and I certainly feel tired by the end of the day. But I feel like I’m working for something really great, and that my future is full of opportunities thanks to the connections and support I’m developing while here. I’m very, very glad to be spending my summer working with Eyebeam, and I encourage readers to seek out work with places whose missions are important to you--because whatever you do, it’ll never be dull so long as it’s for a good cause.
If you’d like to see what my work leads to, you can follow Eyebeam’s Instagram and Twitter, @eyebeamnyc, where we’ll be posting daily updates as camp gets started. No matter what you do, I hope you have a great summer, everyone!