Summer Break the OU Way: Malika Whitley

While the stereotypical college student may spend their summer days sleeping, surfing the net, and watching re-runs, OU summer breakers are make the most of their vacation—while learning at the same time.

Malika hard at work

That’s exactly what Malika Whitley ’11, did going into her senior year.  She told us about her experiences way back in the summer of 2010 when we interviewed her about working at the National Black Arts Festival, a non-profit arts education program that focuses on the work of artists throughout the African diaspora. The interview from that summer follows:

Q:  What do you do at the Arts Festival?

Malika:  I am a production assistant.  The NBAF is a special events company basically, and I mostly work online doing marketing and development work…pretty much everything that is needed.  I do a lot of editing for the videos that we put up on the website,  and I schedule and screen artists for the bi-weekly podcast.  I am also responsible for marketing our projects online using social media.

Q:  You seem like a very busy intern.  What is the best part of your job?

Malika:  I get to meet some very engaging people.  They are all artists!  So you never know who you will meet and what kind of insight they can give you.

Q:  Have you met anyone of note?

I have worked with Jasmine Guy, (star of the 1990’s sitcom, “A Different World”) who is our stage production consultant.  I was also able to meet the actor Malcolm Jamaal Warner, and Jason Oor, the founder of FrontJazzKafe’.  It’s a concert series event in Atlanta at the Tabernacle.  He pretty much originated the concept of having different performances at the same time; like singers, dancers, speed painting, and poetry all on one stage.

Q:  How did you hear about this internship?

Malika:  I got this internship through a program that former Mayor Shirley Franklin started, and it was for people in Atlanta Public Schools.  It allowed you to get internships and scholarships for college.  I was connected to NBAF the summer after I graduated high school and never left.

Q:  What’ s the best part of the internship?

I get paid to listen to music and network.  I am also getting the opportunity to learn about my field, which is something I think is really important because experience in my opinion is just as important as the degree.  Even on “slow” days or during times when I just don’t have a lot of work, I am learning just by being in the environment and watching others.

Q:  You know I have to ask about the worst part…

Malika:   Of course!  Not having enough money to get things done.  You know, as an intern you are not paid a whole lot so you often struggle to make ends meet.  Just paying for transportation and food, even.  But I still think it is the best opportunity because I am gaining so much real work-place experience and building relationships for a well-connected professional future.  You can tell that everyone wants you to suceeed.

Entering her senior year, Malika took her intern experience to the next level.  She traveled to South Africa to spend the rest of her summer working for the City of Cape Town as a special events intern.  She looked forward to working someplace independently where she doesn’t know the main conversational language (Afrikaans) and attending World Cup events.

Now that’s what we call a summer vacation!

See Malika’s blog post from here Cape Town, South Africa internship here!

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