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Jessie Wright

From Non-Profit to MBA Curriculum: One Student's Journey in Arts Administration

by Jessie Wright Friday, September 11, 2015

Slinging a backpack over my shoulders every morning has begun to feel less strange. My notebooks have their first few pages filled, and I no longer absent-mindedly check my old work email in my in-between moments. I am back in student mode!

Several months ago, when going back to school still depended on a hopeful application, I imagined the Bolz Center as a place where I would be surrounded by sharp, creative minds with a passion for problem-solving. I imagined classes where I may feel uncomfortable with the amount of analytical math, but challenged to rise to the occasion amongst peers with years of corporate experience. I imagined a program that would make me feel like I was a part of the future of the arts world, a leader in the types of programming that can transform lives and communities.

From the first morning of orientation, I have felt these daydreams come true. My apprehensions about my non-profit background in a formal business school have been assuaged. Coming most recently from San Francisco, I worked as a marketing coordinator for a cultural nonprofit. Before that, I had spent my arts administration days in Virginia, coordinating major events for the Virginia Film Festival and managing the company of a local summer theater festival. My classmates and the leaders of the Bolz Center have already enriched my understanding about the arts communities we all love, and my classmates in the greater business school have inspired me to learn beyond the borders of where I am comfortable.

I have already experienced connections from my first few weeks of class and my project assistantship as Development Intern for the Overture Center for the Arts. I am looking at balance sheets and budget projections, meeting with world-class professionals to strategize fundraising and marketing objectives. The Overture Center has been enormously welcoming, jumping right in with me and trusting me as a member of their team. What an incredible opportunity the Bolz Center gives us, to continue working in the arts world as we intensively study how to be more effective leaders within it.

I look forward to what this program has in store for us. I look forward to the new connections we will make, whether it’s between our accounting class and planning a theater season, or between new friends with fresh perspectives on a a problem. I am hoping to gain experience with arts grant-writing and development. I want to learn new ways of creating opportunities for people to support the arts and tell their stories at the same time. The backpack is feeling more and more right. Arriving to Grainger Hall every day, surrounded by peers, faculty and mentors, I feel as though I am exactly where I should be.