Knight Internship Profile: Jayne Butler

Arts / Article

Applications are now open for Knight Foundation’s summer internship program, which offers competitive, paid 10-week internships for college students and recent grads.

A former Knight intern turned Knight employee, Jayne Butler, talks about her experience as an intern in summer 2017 and her current role as an officer on Knight’s Arts team.  

What were your responsibilities as an intern in Knight’s former Technology Innovation program? How did your internship experience help you gain a better understanding of Knight’s work?

As an intern, I did research on museum technology. More specifically, I researched how Knight Foundation might scale new tools and approaches to support the use of technology at more institutions. My research focused on collaboration and sharing as a primary scaling method, and I conducted dozens of interviews with technologists, museum professionals, and grantees to gather recommendations on how museums might embrace sharing to catalyze widespread adoption/integration.

My internship concluded by co-organizing a roundtable conversation of artists, creative technologists, and museum professionals from across the country to discuss the challenges and opportunities of technology usage in museums. My internship came at an interesting time for Knight’s art + technology portfolio as the museum technology work was just beginning to take shape. My internship helped me gain a better understanding of Knight’s network, how we build relationships and grow our network, and how Knight develops new learning opportunities for our organization, our network, and our grantees.

Did your experience at Knight relate to your studies in school?

During the summer of 2017, I was a graduate student working towards a Master in Fine Arts in emergent digital practices.  The internship was incredibly pertinent to my school studies because it allowed me to directly apply my interests in museum work, my developing skills in technology, and my curiosity around philanthropy to a new program at the foundation.

How did you end up working for Knight Foundation? What are your responsibilities as an officer in the arts program?

Upon finishing my internship, I returned to Denver to finish the last year of my master’s degree. Shortly before graduation, an officer role with the arts program opened up at Knight. By this time, the technology innovation program had been integrated throughout the organization, and a dedicated art + technology strategy was being implemented by the arts team led by my internship supervisor, Chris Barr. Stars aligned and I moved back out to Miami permanently.

As an arts officer, I support grantmaking efforts in our resident Knight communities and help lead our arts investments in four of the eight Knight cities: Charlotte, Macon, San Jose and St. Paul. I also help spearhead our city arts cohort work and support the art + technology investments across the country.

What was the most valuable part of your internship experience?

The connections I made, and the real-world experience were the most valuable to me. When starting my project, I was given big-picture questions to think about and latitude to structure the project in the way I saw best fit. I hit a few dead ends when I first started and was given a lot of support and the permission forge my own path by following my curiosity and interests in the field. This resulted in being able to chat with tons of people whose careers straddle art and technology which was really beneficial for me.

Any advice for our future interns?

Follow your curiosity and ask lots of questions. Try and avoid getting project tunnel vision or you might lose sight of making connections with staff and our amazing network of grantees. Your questions and conversations will add depth to both your project and your overall experience at the foundation.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning when you get to work?

It depends on the day! I usually check my email and prioritize my responsibilities for the day/remainder of the week.

How has your role at Knight transformed since becoming an intern?

My role has transformed a lot! I work with an entirely different team and am deeply involved with our cities’ work, our grantees, and cultivating new grantmaking opportunities for the arts program. My favorite aspect of my internship was meeting and making connections with grantees, artists, and organizations across the country. I am thankful that this is a large part of my role as an arts program officer at Knight.

What is one of the most enjoyable parts about being part of the Knight team?

Working with artists, organizations, and grantees; learning about they’re doing in their communities; and helping their vision come to fruition. I also love working with my colleagues. Every arts team member is creative in their own right and it adds so much value and strength to our work.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself:

I’m a practicing artist. Currently, I’m working on an interactive installation for an exhibition that opens summer 2020.

Interested in applying to Knight’s internship program? See openings and details here.