Isabelle Holmes '08 parlayed her Bachelor of Arts degree in arts management and work experience gained through MCLA's Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP) into not one, but two great jobs in New York City: She works for the HERE Arts Center as an accounts associate and as the director of finance for the World Music Institute.
A transfer student to MCLA, Holmes started out her college career in the business school at UMass-Amherst, but her interest in the arts was strong. So when MCLA offered a new major in arts management, Holmes took the opportunity to combine her business sense with her love of dance.
"I feel like if I had continued on and graduated with a business degree, I would not have the specific knowledge I need, working in the arts," she said.
Holmes found not only her niche at MCLA, but a foundation of work experience that she was able to build upon. Her B-HIP position was critical, she said, as it turned into a management job in the dance department at Williams College. From there, she went to Jacob's Pillow, where she worked as the accounting coordinator.
"I've always had an interest in the accounting side of arts management. I love numbers and I love the concrete answers that you get from numbers. It's kind of like a puzzle, trying to make everything balance."
Although she stopped dancing about three years ago, her work has "always been a way for me to continue with dance and the arts. I have no desire to go into the corporate world and do the same job. It just doesn't feel as good."
She continued, "Everything I've done is based on my arts management education. I learned about running an arts organization and making things happen, and gained my knowledge about non-profit organizations and the rules that come along with being in a non-profit. I would not have learned that in business school."
After her boyfriend got a job at the Manhattan School of Music last fall, Holmes decided to return home to New York City. She began working at the HERE Arts Center as its accounts associate just a few weeks later.
An off-off Broadway presenting house, HERE Arts Center specializes in hybrid performance, dance, theater, multi-media and puppetry, supporting artists through residencies.
"Every year they bring in a new crop of artists for a three-year residency, and every year they 'graduate' a new crop of artists. Some wonderful artists have come through. The work is really powerful. They are doing wonderful things at HERE," Holmes said. It is her "dream" job.
Because that position is only part-time, she took another part-time job at the World Music Institute, which recently turned into a full-time position. But she will remain at HERE, as well. "I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to be at HERE. It's just a beautiful place."
Working 15 hours a week at HERE and 40 hours a week at the Institute keeps her busy, but Holmes wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's kind of nice to have the long days because I feel I can sit and work and keep the flow going," Holmes said. "I'm really happy and I love the two jobs."