March 26, 2013

Internship Success with Ali Sharpe: Sweet! Actors Reading Writers

By Britt Gettys

Photos compliments of Ali Sharpe and Sweet!

Ali Sharpe

It cannot be stressed enough that networking is a crucial step in the fulfillment of one’s career goals.  Junior Writing Major Ali Sharpe is perhaps one of the best examples of this fact.  Currently an intern for Sweet! Actors Reading Writers, “a reading series that pairs amazing fiction and poetry with actors who can bring the words to life.”  Founded in November 2009, by Pratt Professor, Shelly Oria, and Annie G. Levy, Sweet! is a reading series with a performance twist.  Instead of authors reading their work aloud, actors perform the fiction, delivering a fresh layer of interpretation to poetry and narrative.  

According to Ali “The readings are really entertaining and fun.”  But the pink haired writer isn’t just there to observe the events.  “Readings are a big part of being a writer in the city, so it’s helpful to learn more about the process.”  Readings are a way for authors to not only promote their work but connect with their readership and other people working in the industry.  It’s one of the most valuable of networking spaces for any writer.  Ali’s internship isn’t just a learning experience but an opportunity to build connections with professionals in the publishing field.  

On the first Thursday of every month, a variety of publishers, editors, authors, actors, and people out looking for something fun, collect in the East Village’s Three of Cups restaurant and lounge for Sweet!  Ali’s position allows her to interact directly with these individuals, enabling her to foster an invaluable network of writing pros who can mentor and help her with writing and getting published.  “It’s great to meet the excellent writers that are having their pieces read.”

While the series itself only takes place once a month theres a lot of work in between each reading.  Ali spends most of her internship “running the Sweet! twitter and Facebook page, as well as working on website upkeep and design.”  Aside from social media outreach, Ali also coordinates grants for the series.  “[I do] research into finding grants for the series and will be applying for those grants sometime in the near future.  The biggest surprise so far has been to find out that there's an entire library dedicated to different types of grants. I've learned a lot about that process and that interface.”  For Ali this is one of the most useful skills she’s acquired from her internship.  “Grant money will give me time to write,” it’s one of the ways an artist can support him or herself, allowing them to focus on the project he or she is passionate about.    

Nat Cassidy reading Birds of Africa by Mary Morris at Sweet!
Ali’s experience is one that is distinctly unique to Pratt.  Not only because she’s working with one of Pratt’s writing professors, but because she landed the internship through her internship course with Anna Moschovakis.  This two credit course is offered to Writing Majors and teaches students how to build an effective resume, interview skills, as well as providing them with countless resources for finding an internship.  One such resource is Pratt’s own network of creative professionals, all of which are looking for student interns, and are willing to provide class credit for work.   

However, just because there’s a class on interning doesn’t mean it teaches you everything and does the work for you.  Ali’s advice to students looking for an internship is: “Don't be shy!  Ask your teachers and people you know if they're looking for someone. Even if they're not, they probably know someone who is. Also, send follow-up emails!”

Interviewed by Britt Gettys March 3, 2013