Arsht Interns: A step up

How the Center's internship program is boosting careers in the arts.

By Suzette Espinosa Fuentes

In August 2017, Kathleen Martinez first walked into the Arsht Center offices as an intern eager to transform her interest in computers into a full-time career. She wowed her supervisors and was officially hired later that year, making her the only female employee in IT (at the time) and part of the tiny 2 percent of Hispanic women in computing nationwide.

Fast-forward to 2022, and the student has become the teacher. The Miami-born FIU grad is now showing another Arsht intern, Roman Hernandez, the ropes of network systems, cybersecurity and digital signage all over the Arsht Center’s 50,000-square-foot campus.

“Kathleen has taken me under her wing and shown me how IT functions in an entertainment venue like the Arsht Center. And then she lets me fly,” Hernandez says.

A lyricist and poet on the side, Hernandez was naturally drawn to the internship opportunity, but, he says, finding out that he could get paid to learn was “a big cherry on top.” He is part of the first class of Arsht Interns since the program was reimagined to ensure that every intern receives an hourly wage while gaining hands-on experience in many aspects of arts administration. A generous gift from philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, whose father had to turn down a prestigious internship in favor of paid work, made it possible to fund the Arsht Interns program, which also includes financial-literacy lessons, professional-etiquette workshops and public-speaking sessions.

“It is wonderful to see that these internships are a step up, not a stumbling block to a well-deserved, successful future,” Arsht says.

Martinez and Hernandez agree that paid internships can make all the difference in expanding opportunities to people from many different backgrounds and to those who need to earn a salary while gaining job experience.

“You can really give your full attention to an internship when you don't have to worry as much about finances,” Martinez says.

“I saw this building being built and dreamt of someday doing something there. And here I am,” she says. “I’ve been growing and learning since the first day I walked in. And this is only just the beginning.”

While not every internship leads to a full-time job, more than a dozen Arsht interns have become employees since the program’s inception. In addition to Martinez, two former Arsht interns are currently on staff (in marketing and fundraising) with many other alums of the program are growing careers at the National Recording Academy, the National Football League, TikTok and Ticketmaster, to name a few.

“To the future interns, I say to come with your cup empty and be prepared for it to fill quickly. With all of the great experiences that I’ve had in such a short time here at the Arsht Center, I feel like I struck gold,” Hernandez says.

Know someone who might be interested in becoming an Arsht intern? Click here to learn more.

The program employs interns in the spring, summer and fall. Applications for spring internships are being accepted through November 20.