From L to R: — Pittsburgh Cultural Trust mentors Kate McMahon- Institutional Development Associate, Sadie Treese—Development Systems Manager, Shavonne Arnett—Systems Associate with City Charter High School intern Hector Navarette
There’s only one high school in Pittsburgh that places interns at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. One of this past year’s lucky students is Hector Navarette.
“I feel fortunate because my career interests are in business and accounting,” he said. “I got to see what they did on a daily basis, what their bosses expect from them.”
Shavonne Arnett, Systems Associate and mentor works with Hector Navarette at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
It’s this kind real-world workplace experience that makes the difference for every City Charter High School student. And it is just one part of a whole battery of practices that prepares each student for their future. Career planning and mapping are paramount. Support from the post-high school planning team is another. But it all starts on the first day with a business casual dress code.
“When I first came in, a major thing for me was the dress code,” recalls Hector. “I came from a public school where we got to wear anything we wanted. So it was a big change. At first, I didn’t like it because I felt like it was too sophisticated. Now I am used to it. I dress more formal now. And I guess in Accounting and Business you’re going to have those expectations sooner or later.”
For this senior with a 3.1 GPA whose favorite class is math, his career goal in business and accounting made his internship at the Cultural Trust ideal. He got to learn and assist in the fund-raising department of this highly regarded non-profit organization dedicated to revitalizing downtown Pittsburgh’s art and culture scene.
According to Sadie Treese, Development Systems Manager, “We like to give our interns a breadth of experiences so that they can see the basics from development to execution. We’re really committed to training the next generation of arts leaders and possibly anyone interested in learning about non-profits. Personally,” she adds, “I had never worked in an office until I was in grad school. Sitting down to work in an office for a day-to-day job is something I had never done. And I think it is a really good experience for kids to have.”
“I came from a public school where we got to wear anything we wanted. So it was a big change. At first, I didn’t like it because I felt like it was too sophisticated. Now I am used to it.
At the Cultural Trust, the 12-person team uses proprietary software to raise funds for its many and varied initiatives, everything from the 3-Rivers Arts Festival, to the Benedum Center, to gallery spaces and exhibits.
According to Ms. Treese, “If you’re running a restaurant or any business where you are collecting data, it’s a customer records system that you would use to reach out to your patrons. So it’s a transferrable skill beyond the performing arts.”
Hector picked up other skills along the way. He was able to appreciate the cycle of information and the importance of getting it right in the system. What’s more, he learned the need for confidentiality and attention to detail. As his mentor reports, Hector was excellent at the details. “He consistently performed at the highest quality level even if the task wasn’t super fun or engaging, no matter what task he was on.” Shavonne Arnett, the Cultural Trusts’ systems associate agrees: “If he’s not sure of something he would ask instead of assuming that it’s correct.”
As he heads off to a business degree at one of the local universities, Hector is very grateful for his internship opportunity. As he puts it, “My mentor also got me to work on the financial side so I could understand how finance and development work back-to-back. Since my interests are in business and accounting, I got to see what they did on a daily basis, the Excel spreadsheets they work with, and answer any questions I had.”
But what sets this promising young man apart from even some of the college interns who worked there, was his positive attitude. Ms. Treese and her team agree, “Even after a long day of classes, he always came in with that smile . . . and people notice. His professionalism in the office was very good. He holds himself very well, in the office, in meetings . . . always prepared, very professional.” Guess you can’t expect more than that.
About the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has helped to transform a downtrodden section of Downtown into a world-class Cultural District that stands as a national model of urban revitalization through the arts. In addition to the renovation of the Benedum Theatre, the Trust has acquired properties of nuisance businesses and rehabbed them into gallery spaces, office spaces and retail, turning some into for-profit rental spaces for events or tenants. Through this process, the Trust has become one of the largest taxpayers in downtown Pittsburgh.
Over the past 30 years, the Trust has enriched the community with the 3-Rivers Arts Festival, Broadway touring companies, contemporary dance, family events, education and community engagement programs, and cutting-edge visual arts. Lauded as “the single greatest creative force in Pittsburgh because of its spirit of reinvention” by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is the catalyst behind Pittsburgh’s thriving Cultural District that continues to enrich the region’s vibrancy and prosperity.