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March 1, 2022

Raising the cultural bar

The University of Adelaide has helped students make history for more than 135 years. Through their strong ties to the city’s arts community, students have gained invaluable on-the-ground experience to create opportunities and clear their road to success.

  • Pictures: Johnny von Einem

Learning valuable skills, creating relationships with industry leaders and taking a step out of their comfort zone.

These are some of the ways students benefit from taking part in the University of Adelaide’s internship program with the Adelaide Fringe, the world’s second-largest arts festival.

For seven years, the university has given students the opportunity to go backstage, allowing them the chance to forge a career path through real-world experiences.

 It’s not only arts students who get to go behind-the-scenes at the Fringe; the opportunity is offered across all degrees, including business students.


This article was produced in collaboration with University of Adelaide.

To find out how the University of Adelaide has been supporting the arts for over 135 years visit their website.

For Damon Maslen and Avishi Gupta, both business students, the internship was an invaluable experience they hope will open up endless opportunities.


Meet Damon Maslen

The Adelaide Fringe’s head of finance, Damon Maslen, says the partnership with the University of Adelaide provides students an opportunity to feel out their career paths, arming them with invaluable on-the-ground experiences to help achieve success.

What did you study?

 Damon Maslen: Bachelor of Commerce, Accounting and Finance.

How important was this experience at university in building your career?

DM: I essentially wouldn’t be in the position I am, nor would I have had the experiences I have had in my career. 

Why are student placements important, and what do they add to the Adelaide Fringe Festival?

DM: I think they are important for the students because it gives them a bit of experience in the real world, away from textbook ideals. It also provides important context for textbook scenarios and theory they might learn. It also provides them an opportunity to feel out their career paths. We’ve had interns who have come through studying law and commerce, and it gives them an idea of what commerce looks like in a different perspective. The Adelaide Fringe is really at the coalface of change, and we value fresh ideas and the enthusiasm that comes from engaging with students.

Why do you think it’s important for universities to engage with the arts?

DM: In my time at university, you are constantly given information about big professional practice firms. For me, it’s important that this goes through to the arts sector as well, because it’s not necessarily what you might think of when you leave university after finishing a commerce degree. You don’t leave university and think you are going to work for a not-for-profit arts festival, you go and think about working for one of the big four accounting firms – which is a shame, as Adelaide Fringe is the second largest arts festival in the world, so this gives them more perspective on the world.

Aside from the obvious job opportunities, what other benefits do internships bring?

DM: Networking is the first thing that comes to mind. I know there is at least one other, probably two other interns, [who] have credited their employment to Adelaide Fringe and the networks they have been able to provide. The other aspect is getting interns to do tasks they wouldn’t normally get otherwise, so giving these students real work, and not just making coffee, is really beneficial.


Meet Avishi Gupta

Student Avishi Gupta’s internship with the Adelaide Fringe gave her the competitive edge she needed to carve out a career in the banking and finance sector.

What are you studying?

Avishi Gupta: A double degree in accounting and corporate finance.

How important was your experience at the University of Adelaide in building your career?

AG: I’m an international student, and I had been in Adelaide for about two years and didn’t really know a lot about how things worked. I started right in the middle of the Fringe last year and I was tasked with the settlement of the $16.4m box office for artists, settling their accounts and making sure they were all being paid into their correct bank accounts. It was a daily thing and I learned a lot from it. The internship then led to a part-time job as an assistant accountant. Fringe also helped me understand a lot about cultural diversity and helped me to get a deeper understanding about how different cultures work together.

What did you take away from your 12-week internship at the Adelaide Fringe?

AG: I got an opportunity to build connections in the creative industry as well as the accounting industry. The Fringe team further helped me reinforce my knowledge skills in the real world, which would increase my chances of being employable after graduation. I was further mentored by a CAANZ, who guided me on how to pursue my career goals and focussed on my personality development as well. I am actually a painter and a dancer, and I had stopped before I was at the Fringe, and then thanks to the Fringe I started to paint again as a way of relaxing. It’s given me a competitive edge. 

Why do you think it’s important for universities to engage with artists?

AG: For me especially, I belong to a different culture and I think arts festivals are such a great way to learn and understand about not only your own culture, but those of all the people coming from all over the globe for the Fringe. I think younger generations don’t really learn and understand a lot about their own culture, and so it just helps teach about diversity and heritage and helps strengthen the community.

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