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The Art of Marketing and Media

An internship opportunity at the UI’s art museum helps one student combine two passions

For Claire Lekwa (senior, Johnston, Iowa), an internship at The University of Iowa Art Museum was an ideal opportunity with equally perfect timing.

As a journalism and mass communication major with a concentration in art history and a certificate in entrepreneurial management, Lekwa said, “It was the perfect job for me, combining both my interest in public relations and my deep love of visual art.”

Lekwa, who has been working at the museum since November 2008, applied for the marketing and media internship position immediately after noticing the opportunity in a listing on the UI’s Jobnet Web site.

Although her work at the museum began as an internship, Lekwa has since been promoted to be the museum’s marketing and media assistant. Lekwa oversees and produces almost all of the museum’s public relations campaigns and materials.

Her responsibilities range from digital to concrete. Online, she manages the museum’s Web site, supervises the “Art Matters” blog and is in charge of online outreach. On paper, she edits and produces press releases, monthly newsletters and the UIMA Magazine.

She is proud of the essential role she played in the fall 2009 redesign of the museum’s Web site. Lekwa worked closely with Iowa Memorial Union marketing and Design to make decisions about the design and functionality of the new site.

Mixing Art and Media Lekwa holds up a copy of UIMA Magazine, which she helps to produce

“It’s a lot for a student,” Lekwa said, because her job evolved from an internship to a professional entry level position. Even with all the responsibility, “it’s a cool opportunity for me to be treated as a key player on the staff,” she said.

Meghan Centers (junior, Peoria, Ill.), the museum’s new marketing and media intern, also specializes in journalism and art history and works with Lekwa to complete all of the museum’s outreach initiatives.

“Claire is an excellent supervisor,” Centers said. “She is very understanding and patient.” She also added that Lekwa is great at managing deadlines and described her as a “great communicator.”

“I really enjoy working with Claire because she takes the time to explain things to me,” Centers said. “Being new to the position, I am extremely grateful for her willingness to help me become acclimated with the programs and tasks I am given.”

Lekwa is passionate about her work and feels that it has not only helped her learn more about marketing and public relations, but that it also has a positive effect on the community.

“Working at the UI Museum of Art helps enrich this community with art, something I strongly believe can influence people’s lives in profound ways.” Lekwa said. “I am passionate about what I’m doing, and that makes my job something I fully enjoy doing every day.”

Working with other staff members is one aspect of the position that Lekwa really enjoys. She said she has learned a lot from her coworkers and supervisors on a daily basis and even formed lasting friendships.

Working Together Lekwa and Centers laugh as they discuss the "Art Matters" blog

As she looks forward to graduation in May, Lekwa said she will be working at the museum until at least July. After that, she plans to continue her work in marketing and public relations. Lekwa said she would like to work for another art museum or with a nonprofit organization or business that helps improve peoples’ lives.

The opportunity has given Lekwa a head start. As she begins to apply for jobs, Lekwa said her experience at the art museum has already helped “immensely.” She has made a lot of connections in her field, feels confident when she applies for other museum jobs and has more professional experience than most students her age.

“It really ended up shaping the direction that I’ll be taking my career.” Lekwa said.

Although the museum does not have a set internship program, Lekwa would definitely recommend that other students contact the museum if they are interested in an internship opportunity.

“It’s a great environment with a wonderful team of people that I’ve grown to care about a lot.”

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