O’Neill Alumni Spotlight: Grace Rimkunas

What drives you to be successful in your job every day?

In talking about her career journey, we touched on Grace’s first professional role.  When Grace was still in her graduate program, she interned for a nonprofit in Indianapolis called Music for All. She wasn’t sure what area of the nonprofit world she wanted to dive into at the time, but she found she was really interested in development. She was interested in relationship building and what that meant. When her graduate program was ending, her boss at Music for All asked if she wanted to come onboard full time. She worked there for about 2 years as Sponsorships Coordinator. While she enjoyed working with the sponsors, she felt distanced from the actual creative process. So when she saw the posting for the IU Auditorium position, she felt it was the perfect combination of education and the administrative side of the arts. She became very excited at the prospect of switching roles. Grace relied on networking and the relationships that she had developed and nurtured to help secure her position at the IU Auditorium. Grace went on to say that networking was imperative to any job she ever got, so don’t underestimate the power of making connections.

Grace loves her current role at the IU Auditorium. She said she really enjoys thinking about who she is serving through her role. She said her job makes it easy to think about being selfless when she’s creating programming for the community and the students on campus. It’s all about how to include people and how to bring people to the auditorium. Grace said it brings her joy to think about others and to serve others in this way, and she’s excited to bring art to the community. “This is my dream job!” she said. She gets to brainstorm fun activities for the community to engage in, and she’s able to meet with cultural leaders in the community, along with students and other people who are passionate about the arts. Grace noted that it’s particularly easy to be successful because her passion aligns with the mission of the organization. She said for anyone who is looking for a job, that is so important. Grace said she feels successful because she’s excited about who she’s serving, and then people she meets with are excited about what she’s doing, and she feels energized by their energy. It’s a good position to be in.

How was a failure or disappointment instrumental in your development?

Grace made reference to Patti LuPone, who performed at the IU Auditorium and taught a Master Class to our MAAA students. Patti had said that you can’t learn from success, you can’t grow from success, but you can grow from mistakes. Grace agrees with that emphatically. Grace understands that the notion of perfection is not a reality. She described a time in her professional life when there was a miscommunication about an email about an upcoming event. She was afraid to talk to her boss about it, but through collaboration and problem-solving, they worked through it together. Grace knows the importance of creating a safe working environment where people feel free to take risks, knowing that with risks come mistakes. And that should be ok because that’s where growth comes from.

What courses in the degree program did you find helpful once you began your professional journey?

Moreso than the actual coursework for the MAAA program, Grace made mention of the practical opportunities that were offered. She said that people come into the program with different backgrounds and levels of experience, and they may be tempted to request a waiver for the required internship experience. And whether students get a waiver (due to prior experience) or not, she felt interning was a crucial part of the MAAA program, and so she chose to do an internship even though she had a waiver. Internships can lead to full-time work, as hers did with Music for All. But the experience you gain while in an internship can help you secure other full-time positions outside of your program.  She explained that she interned with the Washington Concert Opera. It was a two-month internship where she worked about 20 hours each week. It wasn’t a lengthy stint, it wasn’t a hard lift. And yet she feels certain that the duties she had and the skills she learned while on that job were instrumental in her securing her current position with IU Auditorium. And again, networking came into play and was a big part of her intern experience, as well. In addition to the internships that she secured, she really appreciated her practicum projects. They helped her to learn more about what she really enjoyed and where she wanted to end up. Grace appreciated not only the MAAA program, but also the openness of the Bloomington community, that so many organizations were willing to open up experiences for the students to be able to pair the theoretical lessons from the classroom with the practical, hands-on experiences out in the real world. Grace said again that she really appreciated the practical opportunities (and business connections) that the MAAA program made possible.

If you’d like to connect with Grace, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn: Grace Rimkunas

By Juliette Kniola
Juliette Kniola Assistant Director of Career Services