A guest post by Stephanie Bonaroti, MAPH’s 2014 recipient of the Rafael Torch Memorial Fellowship.
After another zero-results-yielding LinkedIn search for a post-MAPH job, I was exhausted. I was getting my degree from UChicago, and I didn’t understand why typing “music” into the search box wasn’t granting me with endless career opportunities. Just like everyone else in MAPH, I was knee-deep in my niche thesis topic (cultivating gendered meaning in 19th-century German domestic music-making, to be exact) and I was lost as to how to carry this academic passion over into the real world. Conveniently on the same day I had reached my tipping point with LinkedIn, I got an email from a small Hospice company based in Chicago that was seeking a Music & Memory intern for the summer. The position was, of course, unpaid—as so many positions that interest MAPH students are. The idea immediately excited me in a similar fashion to my academic work, but I dismissed it quickly because of its daunting financial label. Don’t worry, this tale has a happy ending I promise.
I eventually learned about the Rafael Torch Memorial Service Fellowship: one of the MAPH summer internships and an incredible hidden gem, to say the least. The Torch Fellowship offers a stipend for one graduating MAPH student to pursue a position in service work. Upon learning about the Fellowship, I immediately emailed Unity Hospice and began making the blueprints for my summer project with Music & Memory.
Now, I absolutely love my day-to-day responsibilities with Unity and would be more than happy to go into full detail about them to anyone that is interested. But, I’ll spare you all for this post because, really, the possibilities for projects are endless with the Torch Fellowship. So why wouldn’t everyone apply to get a stipend for volunteering? I common deterrent for the Torch Fellowship if that an applicant must have an already existing relationship with the organization. You already need a relationship with the partner, and a project proposal detailing your responsibilities during your 10 weeks.
I mention these requirements so that anyone interested in being a Torch Fellow can have the opportunity to do so! The Torch Fellowship enabled me to have such continuity between my graduate work and my job. I spent a year writing about the process by which 19th-century German girls created meaning with music…and here I sit at my desk at Unity Hospice researching how my Alzheimer patients made meaning with music in their past. I really was able to build a job with the Torch Fellowship centered not on a job title or a specific skill set, but around the topics and themes that inspired me.
The takeaway here is start early! If this is something that sparks your curiosity, start looking for organizations you want to be involved in and start volunteering with them. This not only makes applying for the Torch Fellowship possible, but makes being a Torch Fellow so much more worthwhile.
Also a takeaway, I like talking about everything having to do with Torch so feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.