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Internship Spotlight – Michelle Villagomez

This post is part of our Internship Spotlight series. For this installment, Museology Communications and Marketing Assistant Marcela Velandia (’25) spoke with Michelle Villagomez (’25) about her internship experience at the Fishbowl Gallery.

Museology student Michelle Villagomez

What organization did you intern with, and what did you do in your internship? Why did you decide to intern there? 

My internship was at the Fishbowl, an art gallery which provides space for QTBIPOC artists (Queer, Transgender, Black, Indigenous and People of Color). This gallery was created by artist Rya Wu. In the last year, this public gallery located in Uptown has become a community gathering space for anyone who wants to join. 

I came into this program knowing that I was interested in community engagement, programming and education. When I saw the position at the Fishbowl involved community work, I saw it as an opportunity to have more hands-on experience. My role in this internship is programming and engagement intern in which I help out in communications, connecting with artists; and engaging with the community. 

At the beginning of the internship, I was introduced to Judy Lee, who had just officially joined the team to help with development. She had ideas for different projects to do and one of the projects that she really wanted to work with me on given my interests, was co-facilitating artist talks at the Fishbowl. She guided me through the process, allowed me to observe her, and then let me be a part of artist prep zoom interviews. Additionally, I had the idea to create a little gallery nook, in a fridge where people can display their own art and interchange with others.  

Did you fulfill your original learning goals? Were there any unexpected takeaways or learning moments? 

My experience has been even better than I expected. It opened up so many opportunities that I didn’t even know about within the art scene in Seattle. It has been such an amazing experience to learn from other QTBIPOC individuals who are part of the team at the Fishbowl or just part of the greater Fishbowl community. In terms of original learning goals, I did learn how to facilitate conversations with different artists effectively. 

What did you enjoy most about this internship? 

I think it was connecting to the team, artists and people that have been in this field for so long and come from different perspectives. I am now more involved in the art scene and have challenged myself to go to art events by myself which has been hard for me to do in the past. I love that at the Fishbowl, even if you are not an artist, even if this is your first time in the gallery, you are welcomed.

My favorite part of the internship was preparing for those artists talks, which is such an intimate experience. I’m in a zoom call with Judy and an artist, and we are talking about really intense life experiences that the artist has been through. Judy and I push for artists to get deep and usually result in artists saying “I’ve never said that out loud!” or “I didn’t even know that…” and so we share this intimate moment where you just unapologetically express what you’ve been through and show up as yourself. Then, Judy and I have the honor to hold their stories and share them with the community. Therefore, artist talks has provided our community the opportunity to truly connect and show up as we are. I think that it has been the most beautiful experience: connecting with people in ways that other traditional art spaces don’t allow us to do. We all come together, we want to be here and we want to support each other. 

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your internship, or do you have any advice for students looking into internships right now?

I think you have to really ask yourself: what is your intention with your internship? Are you looking for experience, networking, to gain skills? Ask yourself, “is this position actually going to fit what I want it to do? ” and really go into an internship having a general idea of what you want out of your experience, even if this changes!

For me and for a place like the Fishbowl, it was important for my values to align with the organization. I think for someone like me who does things wholeheartedly, the Fishbowl was a perfect place for me. Since the Fishbowl is a relatively new gallery (it’s been around for a year), they needed someone to be willing to be in community. I am happy to be the first person in our museology program to intern with the Fishbowl and hope that this partnership provides future opportunities for collaboration.

How did this internship relate to your career goals, interests, and plans? What impact did the internship have on those goals? 

The internship made me realize what I’m capable of. From the beginning, Rya and Judy trusted me to do many things even though I was new to the field. Judy has built her whole career in sharing stories and from our first meeting, she told me that by the end of this internship, i would facilitate my own artist talk. I remember calling my mom and being so happy about this opportunity. This all came at the perfect time when I needed to feel validated and know what I was doing right. 

As a Latina being the first in my family to go to college, move away from home, and to get my master’s, I can do it! It has always been important for me to represent my people and to make sure I am giving back to marginalized communities I’m very grateful to say that I found that community at the Fishbowl.