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A Semester to Remember: Reflections on my College for Social Innovation Fellowship at Celebrity Series of Boston

by Angela Hyde

Even at just twenty-two years of age, I’m no stranger to the ins and outs of working in a professional office. In my past, I’ve worked at an art museum, in college and career services, and even in the college finance office. I’ve loved working in these offices throughout my life, as they have molded me into the driven worker that I am. But by junior year of college, I wanted to immerse myself in experiential learning through internships. My first internship, the summer of 2018, was at a non-profit in Boston, in the development department – a small hallway consisting of two rooms, but an abundance of good spirits and enough joy in the work to fill a whole building. My time there lit in me a passion for work in which the ultimate goal it is to uplift communities, and directly serve the people around them, not just themselves. Celebrity Series of Boston has fostered that passion, built it up, and made it shine brighter than when I began.

When I first applied to the College for Social Innovation’s Semester in the City program, it was a decision that held great weight. By my senior year, I knew I could not afford to fund any travel abroad, as most students my age had done or were doing. I craved an opportunity to work off-campus, and to live a more independent lifestyle than dorms would allow. I knew that the College for Social Innovation, through their commitment to experiential learning and encouragement of city-living, would be the perfect fit for these goals.

Upon acceptance to the program, I was elated. Nervous, but incredibly enthusiastic. When I learned I would be working with Celebrity Series, my enthusiasm by no means diminished, though I had little understanding of what a performing arts presenter did. I knew what the Mission and Vision statements said, could understand the words, and certainly felt the passion in them. But I had no basis of what truly innovative or diverse performing arts presentation looked like. I grew up in the forests of New Hampshire, never having gone to a world-class performance. The most exciting thing to happen in the year was the state fair. This internship I was to undertake would allow me to change that, thanks to the semester program in Boston.

Veronica Robles Female Mariachi

Before I got to those shows though, I had to learn the environment. There is a speed at Celebrity Series that I hadn’t experienced at my previous internship. It’s a sense of urgency that pushes everyone forward, a testament to the 80+ years this non-profit has survived in the high-energy city of Boston. There’s joy in the work too, cupcakes shared for birthdays and congratulations given for a show that goes well. There’s genuine care that might go unnoticed at first in the grind of the work day, and I felt it even my first week. There are enjoyable meetings with colleagues, and there is the knowledge that every little thing you do in a day counts for so much more in the long run; this is one aspect of non-profit work, and my time at Celebrity Series, that I cherish. I know that what I do will push forward the mission, and help to realize the organization’s vision. This motivates me even more and further opens the door for my growth to flourish.

One of the more meaningful aspects of a College for Social Innovation fellowship is the Special Project. My special project for these few months focused on storytelling, an important aspect of any organization’s work and one that led to a number of new experiences for me. By attending a wide variety of Celebrity Series performances and events in Boston and Cambridge, covering them for the organization’s blog, I’ve developed my skills as a writer, honing my abilities for the purposes of a professional environment and the needs of this organization. I never thought I would have this kind of access. I’ve been to Symphony Hall, seen a professional dance company, and experienced opera – all for the first time. Truly this whole semester has been filled with more firsts than any other. And none of these shows I’ve attended have been fleeting – these are truly once in a lifetime experiences I will remember forever.

But it has not been without work! I’ve written over ten thousand words, will have had six articles of my own writing published on the Celebrity Series blog, all with my byline intact. A byline, or the line in a publication that recognizes the original author by name, is so incredibly important for a young writer, especially an intern. The old notion that writing will be published under the name “XYZ intern,” is a reality that some students might have to face, but it is a testament to Celebrity Series and the colleagues here that have mentored me that I have been able to keep my name on my work. I’m so thankful for the lessons I’ve learned working with this organization, and for the encouragement that everyone here has shown me.

Jazz Along the Charles

Experiences like Jazz Along The Charles – during which I heard more jazz bands than ever before in my life – and the operatic recital by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo – my first time experiencing opera ever, in any form, at which I cried thrice – were experiences I never dreamed I’d have. These were two very different types of performances: the first a free outdoor concert on the Charles River Esplanade, and the second a paid recital in the intimate Pickman Hall at Longy School of Music at Bard College, featuring one singer and his accompanying pianist. But both are great examples of the diversity Celebrity Series has under its belt, and of the dynamic quality of performing artists that this organization shares with its audiences.

As my time here comes to an end, and I move back to my school to finish my college career, I know what I’ve learned here has been more worthwhile than I could have hoped. It’s so valuable to not only experience the culmination of work that a performance represents but the background effort that goes into it as well. It’s important to know the behind-the-scenes that goes into making an event happen, the funding, and the effort.

Sankofa Danzafro at Boston Arts Academy

Celebrity Series hasn’t just become important to me as an intern, but also as an individual who didn’t grow up with access to diverse and talented performing artists. As an intern it is invaluable; as an individual, it has been inspirational. I can see the joy in people’s faces as they watch jazz bands play “Boston,” by Augustana, in the movement and smiles of high-school students as they learn salsa choque from an Afro-Colombian dance company, in the face of a Broadway star as he talks about his Scottish upbringing before singing Adele. It’s a passion for performance, for diversity, for innovation and quality that shines through every performance, and reverberates off of every attendee.

Alan Cumming at Symphony Hall

That’s what Celebrity Series of Boston is – an organization that, above all else, has a passion for building better communities through enriching performing arts experiences. Everyday individuals come to work – whether in the office, behind the scenes, or on the stages – with a determination to complete whatever tasks needed, striving to make that idea of a life-transforming experience possible for the audiences that come through their doors. And that is what this internship has been for me: a life-transforming experience.


Angela Hyde joined Celebrity Series in the fall of 2018 as a College for Social Innovation Fellow, interning with Celebrity Series’ Advancement Department. She is a senior at Wheaton College MA, pursuing a Writing Degree, with a minor in Journalism Studies.

The College for Social Innovation’s Semester in the City program gives college students the opportunity to spend a semester learning hands-on through well-supported internships in the social sector and living accommodations in the city of Boston. Students receive a stipend and join CfSI as Social Innovation Fellows, participating in a transformative 15-week program that allows them to address current social issues while developing essential skills and networks that prepare them for life and work after graduation. Learn more at https://collegeforsocialinnovation.org.

Angela’s blog posts for Celebrity Series this fall have included:

Photos by Robert Torres.

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