Student Spotlight: BW Senior Interns at Rock Hall


Nathan Parsons

Senior Nicholas Wilders stands in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Sydney Stone, Co-News Editor

Nicholas Wilders, senior theater and concert management double major, completed a prestigious 11-week internship this past summer through the nationally recognized Cleveland Foundation at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Wilders was one of 14 people out of 260 applicants chosen for a full-time, paid internship at non-profit organizations in the Cuyahoga County area.
The Cleveland Foundation, established in 1914, was the world’s first community foundation and is now America’s fourth-largest foundation, giving out annual grants of approximately $84 million.
Wilders worked under the Director of Strategy and Planning at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
His main responsibility was approaching museum visitors and conducting customer surveys on various aspects of the museum experience, including questions about how the visitors got to the museum, what their favorite exhibits were, why they came, and much more.
“The thing [conducting surveys] taught me was that you can’t assume anything about the people coming to your organization…you can’t know where they are coming from or why they are coming without looking at the data.” Wilders said.
Wilder’s conducted 1,700 surveys over the 11-week period and compiled the data to find trends and presented his findings to executives of the museum such as the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Marketing.
“This internship gave me a broader idea of why and how people come to entertainment sources,” Wilders said, adding, “…if you want to maximize your impact as an arts organization you must be mindful of who you are appealing to.”
According to Wilders, one of the best parts of the internship was being among the celebrities that visited the Rock Hall, including Joan Jet, Sheryl Crow, Graham Nash, members of the band Earth Wind & Fir, and Slash.
Wilders also got to work with local Cleveland chefs at an event called Chef Jam where Chefs made rock and roll inspired dishes.
Aside from his volunteer and internship work around the Cleveland area, Wilders is also highly involved on campus.
He is currently assistant director of the fall musical “A Chorus Line,” a member of the Arts Management Association, a freshman orientation leader and production manager of the BW Beatles, all while remaining involved with the College Democrats.
In his future career, Wilders hopes to be an artistic director for a theater company that focuses on social justice material.
Although his experience at the Rock Hall is over, the internship has allowed Wilders to build a larger network in Cleveland’s arts scene. Wilders’ connections and recommendations from the Rock Hall have opened up a volunteer opportunity at Cleveland Public Theater.
“A lot of people in the Cleveland music scene know about the Rock Hall. Being young in Cleveland at this time is advantageous because people will want to hire you for your enthusiasm, especially in the non-profit sector,” Wilders added, calling the Cleveland Foundation “one of the best non-profit internship programs in the country.”
Wilders highly recommended the Cleveland Foundation internship to any BW student looking for experience in non-profit work in Cleveland.
“It not only gives you real life experience, but also lets you really sink your teeth into Cleveland as a city. Cleveland is up-and-coming for young professionals and is quickly becoming a fresh new city,” Wilders said.