Robles ’23 Takes a Backstage Lead as Minnesota Orchestra Intern

Landing an internship with one of the most prestigious orchestras in the region has taught Jessica Mendez Robles ’23 how to ensure the show goes on.
Posted on July 15th, 2022 by

Jessica Mendez Robles '23

Behind every musician to take the stage at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, there are people like Jessica Mendez Robles ’23 working behind the scenes to make sure the show does, in fact, go on. Through her summer internship with the Minnesota Orchestra, she’s putting her coursework and experience from Gustavus into action while building the foundation for a career in arts administration.

Like a conductor keeping performers on the same page, Robles acts as a hub for communication throughout all branches of the orchestra, whether she’s answering questions or reviewing technical documents. It’s work that takes organization, a detail-oriented eye, and the patience to sort through dozens of emails. “You wouldn’t think that keeping track of emails is a skill, but it is!” said Robles.

Her primary focus has been putting together this year’s International Day of Music, the orchestra’s summer kick-off event on July 16. With 20 artists performing across four stages from noon to midnight, effective communication is critical. Despite the pressure of organizing an event with so many parts, however, she’s confident that everything will go off without a hitch. “Making things seem smooth is an incredible thing the orchestra does, because they manage to do it every single time.”

Even with COVID-19 throwing a wrench into the best-laid plans, finding solutions to last-minute hurdles is part of what makes the end result satisfying for Robles.

“One of the conductors ended up getting COVID-19 before their final show, so we had to find another conductor,” she explained. “The show ran without problems; you couldn’t even tell that there was anything wrong. I think that’s a really cool part about management.” 

After changing her major from music education to a double major in music and sociology, Robles started pursuing her interest in music across cultures. Her interests led her to learn more about work in theaters, museums, and other cultural institutions, which in turn prompted her to take classes in arts administration. Outside the classroom, she’s worked in the fine arts department on various projects, giving her an inside look at everything from licensing music to managing an entire tour. “It’s been very helpful in letting me explore different things and see all that there is in arts management.”

Now, interning with the Minnesota Orchestra has not only cemented Robles’ interest in the field, but it’s also helped her make professional connections with the potential to open even more opportunities.

“There’s so much you can get out of exploring any internship, whether it’s the connections you build or the affirmation that this is work you truly enjoy,” said Robles. “Just go for it!”

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad
luch@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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