Nick Gelo is studying business management at Alfred University. He worked as an intern in SITE’s Exhibitions department during the summer of 2016. Below he reflects on his experience at SITE upon completing his internship.
Initially I was quite nervous upon arriving in Santa Fe, New Mexico on my own as the environment and attitude I began to encounter were entirely new to me; SITE Santa Fe and the idea of working with a preparatory crew seemed to almost parallel this feeling of being in uncharted territory. My first week as an Exhibitions intern confirmed this realization, as many of the tasks were ones I had never been asked to do before. From the de-installation and packaging of flatworks to completing condition reports, in the time passed with each task I came to realize that it was this feeling of complete unfamiliarity that provided the necessary conditions for my internship experience.
I found working in the Exhibitions department interesting due to my ability to see how the show was developing through both a task and project-based perspective. While I was either in a small group or on my own to complete assigned tasks, the flow of work from one department to another was emphasized throughout my time at SITE via speaking with supervisors and coworkers or my own workload being reassigned to a different realm of challenges (e.g. moving from painting/ space preparatory work for John Cross to completing loan agreements for Sage Sommer). This aspect was especially important, because in my previous experiences I found this ability to take a step back and look at the show from a macro-perspective to not be as emphasized. Processing this removed perspective to such a degree has also been furthered as my time away from SITE Santa Fe continues, and has benefited me in reflection on my previous intern experiences with the Cohen Gallery at Alfred University.
With this new perspective and time, I have additionally realized the responsibility and value that was placed upon each member of the department. Within the first few weeks, I was temporarily employed by SITE Santa Fe so that I could work with equipment and be engaged in all varying areas of production for the show. As time passed and the show drew closer, I began to feel less like an inexperienced intern and more that I was a valued member of the team; and with that sense of value came one of shared responsibility for the exhibition’s success. Speaking with the artists and curators additionally solidified this fulfilling sense of value for me, as with each conversation during an assignment or on break added to my impression of the show and where my work was going.
Since leaving SITE, I have taken on a new set of responsibilities in preparation for my upcoming year in graduate school at Alfred. Despite my own realizations during the internship, with how quickly the eight weeks went I knew that it would not be until my arrival to this point that I would have an idea as to what lessons or skills I had honed. It seems that the difference, though it’s a rather subtle detail, between the past two months and now is that I have noticed a significantly more calm and confident approach when I take a look at my planner for the day, organize my time, and execute whatever said list entails. More concretely, I’ll define this as a furthering of my own professional focus, a greater sense as to how far my skills have come and where they can take me, and finally as how to adapt professionally to a new environment. With an upcoming graduate year for my Masters in Business Administration degree and an assistantship at the Alfred Ceramic Arts Museum, I feel more privileged and grateful to have been assigned these projects and to have worked with the friendly and dedicated staff at SITE Santa Fe.