August 26, 2021

Backstage at the Egyptian: Farewell from summer intern Cass Kamp

I don’t know where to begin to express my appreciation for the opportunity to intern at the historic Egyptian Theatre this summer. The staff members are incredible, the events were exciting, the guests were friendly, the projects I worked on were educational, and the Theatre itself is captivating with its beauty and history! The Backstage at the Egyptian Blog, events, and Give DeKalb County data analysis were the three projects I worked on over the summer, and I learned a great deal about the inner workings of a small nonprofit organization.

These Backstage at the Egyptian Blogs gave me the opportunity to interact with community members and practice journalism skills. Although I have concluded that journalism does not spark something inside of me, it was exciting to have conversations with performers and partners who work with the Egyptian Theatre. I asked several performers the question “why is music important?” and I think it’s a valuable question to answer myself. I believe music is important because it is a form of self-expression that brings people of all kinds together to share in their emotions, interests, and experiences. With music and other forms of the performing arts, there is no limit to how it can be expressed and who can be a part of it. We need places such as the Egyptian Theatre to create a space for the vibrancy, openness, and diversity of the performing arts to have a home in cities like DeKalb the same way they have a home in Chicago. Perhaps my favorite project was working the events at the Egyptian because I got to be a part of the magic for making guests feel welcome at this home. Working events such as the dance competitions, tribute bands, children’s theatre camps, and the Happy Together Tour, were great opportunities to build on my communication and customer service skills, and I would be lying if I said being able to listen to live music for free during my shift wasn’t the coolest bonus feature of any job I’ve had! 

The main project I worked on during my internship was an analysis of the Give DeKalb County donor data. Data analysis is a structured way to find trends and insights about a data set to make informed conclusions and actions. By analyzing the Egyptian Theatre’s Give DeKalb County donor data over the past four years, we can get a better understanding of how to connect with our donors and create a more informed strategic plan to increase donations next year. I have never performed data analysis before, so naturally it was quite the learning curve! I had to learn how to utilize different functions in Excel that were unfamiliar to me and create different lenses for interpreting the data. This project was rewarding because I noticed growth in my critical thinking and my ability to apply concepts I learned in the academic classroom to real life experiences. Truly though, the most rewarding part was applying the knowledge I learned to helping the Egyptian Theatre grow too.  

What’s next? I will be walking across the stage in December of 2021 with my B.A. in Psychology, B.S. in Rehabilitation and Disability Services, and Certificate in Nonprofit and NGO Studies from NIU. I would like to pursue a career with a nonprofit organization dedicated to child welfare, disaster relief, or mental health. Although my career pathway may not directly include the performing arts, they will always have a place in my life. I am excited to continue volunteering at the Egyptian Theatre in the future and to support the arts with my family as theatres and museums begin to open again. Thank you to the staff, Board of Directors, and Friends of the Egyptian who have made this an unforgettable summer!