Mikayla Quinn of Pine Plains Finds Connection and Career Inspiration as Arts Council Intern
CANTON, NY (11/01/2022)– Lifelong artist Mikayla Quinn, a member of St. Lawrence University’s Class of 2024, was drawn to an internship at the St. Lawrence County Arts Council, where she could use her talents to build community bonds while highlighting and celebrating North Country culture.
In the process, she confirmed her love for connecting with new people and was inspired to think deeper about what a career that combines art and her major, psychology, might look like. Mikayla’s experience was made possible by the St. Lawrence University Public Interest Corp (SLUPIC) program, which provides funding and on-campus housing for students pursuing summer internships with local non-profits and organizations.
Note: some responses have been edited for length
Mikayla Quinn ’24
Major/Minor: Psychology major, Public Health and Art and Art History double minor
Hometown: Pine Plains
SLUPIC Internship: St. Lawrence County Arts Council
Why were you interested in interning with this particular North Country organization?
I have been an artist my entire life, so I felt like this internship was very much up my alley. Originally I applied to a different non-profit, but after my interview with the Arts Council, I felt a really strong connection with the goals of the non-profit as a whole and the position I was to fill.
What is an average day with the SLC Arts Council like for you?
I wear a lot of hats as an intern with this organization, which is what makes this placement so much fun for me. I usually come to work at 9 a.m. for our summer camp (of which I am the director). During the day, I might create TikTok and Instagram posts, work the register for the store, attend meetings with creative partners, help to plan new programs, teach classes, join painting circles with some of our partners, set up the gallery, and so much more. I also get to help run the open mics and sell my own work here, which is pretty cool!
How has this experience enriched or changed your understanding of the North Country?
While living on campus over the past several years, I believed that the North Country was a very conservative place, both in terms of politics and general social norms. I was initially nervous to be interning off-campus for the summer as someone who is queer-identifying. However, the work environment and even the general community here have given me a great sense of belonging. I feel like I always have a spot at the table and am a valued person in the store and outside of it.
What have you learned about yourself through this experience?
I already had a pretty good sense, but this experience confirmed that I am very much a people person. It brings me so much joy to help at events and have conversations with new people through my internship. It gives me a wonderful opportunity to extend my network.
How has this experience influenced your career path?
It has definitely made me think a little deeper about my career path. As a psychology major, I have always planned to become a licensed clinical mental health counselor, and this experience is not entirely related. Because I enjoyed my time here so much, I’ve been thinking more about the ways in which I could perhaps combine my degree in psychology and my passion for connecting with others through art.
What did you get to do while living on campus over the summer that you aren’t usually able to do in the fall or spring?
Quite a bit actually! For one, I got to make amazing friendships with people who I ordinarily wouldn’t see over the course of a regular semester due to conflicting academic schedules. I also had a lot of fun attending the food pantry and community dinners to further foster those connections. As someone on an accelerated path to graduation, I do not have a lot of free time during the semester. I’ve really enjoyed using my weekends off to go hiking, swimming, or traveling to Canada.
About St. Lawrence University:
Founded in 1856, St. Lawrence University is a private, independent liberal arts institution of about 2,250 students located in Canton, New York. The educational opportunities at St. Lawrence inspire students and prepare them to be critical and creative thinkers, to find a compass for their lives and careers, and to pursue knowledge and understanding for the benefit of themselves, humanity and the planet. Through its focus on active engagement with ideas in and beyond the classroom, a St. Lawrence education leads students to make connections that transform lives and communities, from the local to the global. Visit www.stlawu.edu.