As we gear up for the 2021 cycle of the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program at VPAM, we followed up with our internship alumni Damaris Osuna ‘19, Javier Arellano Vences ‘17, Lizette Carrasco ‘20, and Madison Quiroz ‘20 to learn more about their experiences in the program and what advice they had for those interested in applying.

FROM TOP LEFT CLOCKWISE: Damaris Osuna ‘19, Javier Arellano Vences ‘17, Lizette Carrasco ‘20, and Madison Quiroz ‘20

VPAM: Hi everyone! Thank you for joining us in conversation. As Getty Marrow alumni, what are some lifelong skills you gained from your participation in this internship? 

Damaris: As an Education and Public Programming Intern, I learned how to navigate not just the museum field but a professional workplace setting in general. I was able to attend meetings, email artists and other museum professionals, network in conference settings. My time as an intern at VPAM set me up with skills that I have applied to different settings, different audiences, and different worlds, including learning how to work collaboratively with people from other departments, customer service skills from programming, and networking skills from cohort meetings. Curriculum building and community engagement research, which have helped me in my current position. Most importantly, I learned how capable I am of adapting to a new environment and creating my projects and project content, especially within an industry that has historically been very selective and exclusionary. 

Javier: During my curatorial internship at VPAM, I learned how to put into effect the scholarship and ideals that I value the most: shedding light on historical injustices to communities of color, questioning and challenging systems of authority through artistic outlets, and becoming a resource for young POC students from East Los Angeles College. In short, the internship taught me to think critically, be empathetic, work collaboratively, and most importantly, be supportive and understanding towards people’s experiences.

Lizette: One of the most important life-long skills that I learned as the Education and Public Programming Intern was the community’s connections and engagement. I had to prepare a contact list, and this list would be the key to reach every department at the ELAC campus to inform each department about the many resources VPAM has to offer. I also wanted to include the public. It is always important to be inclusive.

Madison: My participation as Curatorial and Collections Intern gave me great insight into the curatorial field and how curators interact with artists, scholars, and other museum staff. I feel much more comfortable corresponding with artists and discussing their work with them. This role taught me how to think critically about an artwork and how a physical space could best highlight and present the piece, keeping in mind the artist’s intentions and the mission of the show. This role has also made me mindful of audience and visitor engagement and education, as I had to think through how a visitor would experience and engage with the chosen works. Research was also a big part of my internship. Conducting research from a curatorial point of view helped me synthesize what I was reading with the theoretical concepts presented in the exhibition, which enabled me to offer input about what pieces might best convey a message or narrative. 

How did the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship help you navigate your career goals and path? 

Javier: During my internship and following my appointment as a Curatorial and Research Assistant at VPAM, I was able to work alongside many prominent scholars. These experiences provided me with methodologies and theoretical frameworks that acknowledge and validate narratives often underrepresented in academia and the museum field. Working and networking with artists and senior scholars allowed me to grow professionally and academically. These connections have led to other forms of employment. Additionally, thanks to the GMUI and the subsequent relationships and experiences that it provided, I have been able to work on independent curatorial programs, join Stanford University’s Art & Art History Ph.D. program, and most recently become involved with Imagining Justice: Race, Justice, and Repair, a program initiated by Stanford’s Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity. The program offers a creative and humane approach to divert people out of the criminal justice system entirely and in so doing mitigates the effects of prosecution, reduces the direct and collateral impacts of systemic racism, while also harnessing creative abilities and providing mentorship opportunities to those impacted by the criminal justice system.

Madison: The Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program provided me with valuable experiences and skills I could not have gained elsewhere. I learned that there were some projects and roles that I did not necessarily enjoy doing once I was in a position to do them. Likewise, participating in various roles helped me realize my passions in other areas previously unknown to me. I believe that this internship helped fine-tune and solidify my interests, and I have a clearer idea about the roles I’d like to have in my career path. 

Damaris: The Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program helped me gain experience, not just in my set career path but also in the museum field in general. The freedom and agency given in the internship to create and help create let me explore what my career goals and path should be and what I enjoyed from them. As someone who had just recently started in the museum world, the guidance and wisdom I received from VPAM staff helped me navigate an industry that was still new to me. I learned about the variety of roles that exist within a museum and how each role fuels another. Through my experience at VPAM, I was able to figure out what I enjoy doing and what spaces I enjoy doing them in. 

Lizette: I am a Sociology major and I have always wanted to work with children. Serving as the Education and Public Programming Intern helped me realize that this is exactly the right path for me. It also helped me step out of my comfort zone and grow as an undergraduate student and young professional.

2020 Getty Marrow Undergraduate Interns with VPAM Exhibitions and Programs Manager Joseph D. Valencia

What would you say to someone unsure about applying to the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program? 

Madison: Do it! It’s really a great experience, and the networks you make are invaluable. I have made close friends and found mentors who are always willing and able to provide support. I have never once regretted my participation in the Getty internship program. I feel that the chance to work with equally passionate people in a role you are interested in is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often. The skills gained leave you far more equipped to tackle this kind of role in your future career. 

Lizzette: I would definitely let them know that this will be the best experience of their lives and they will learn so much about themselves!

Javier: This unique internship is led by mentors in museums and visual arts organizations who will value your time and growth. The program and its partners want to help you realize your academic and professional goals, and it’s paid, which is another plus.

Damaris: This program not only opened so many doors for me professionally but it introduced me to some of the most amazing artists, curators, and museum professionals I have had the pleasure of working alongside. It has also connected me with truly inspiring colleagues in ways I had never imagined. If lack of museum experience or background in museums is something that intimidates you, The Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship is an amazing way to get started. 


Applications for the 2021 Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship Program are now available. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 7th, 5 PM PDT. If you have questions about the internship, please email us at