Alumni Spotlight: Teddy Van Winkle


Teddy is an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, where he studies Music Performance and Arts Entrepreneurship. Over the summer of 2019, Teddy interned for the Orchester Wiener Akademie, an orchestra in Vienna, Austria, as part of IES's Vienna Summer Internship program.

Why did you choose this program?

Bottom line, I needed an internship to graduate.

I knew this before I even declared my Arts Entrepreneurship degree, but I'd been avoiding trying to find one until the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester. Just about every internship I could find then was not paid, not relevant, or not feasible. At about the same time, though, IES announced a new internship program in Vienna. Vienna is a fantastic city for music - so much of what we play today originates from composers and musicians in Vienna hundreds of years ago. So, interning in Vienna, fulfilling my Arts Entrepreneurship intern requirement, and experiencing an unrivaled music culture - it was an opportunity hard to turn down.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

IES Vienna facilitated just about everything for us prior to the program start, from finding our employer, scheduling an interview, placing us in an apartment, and including rent costs in our tuition. We did, obviously, have to coordinate our own travel to Vienna. And once we started working, we were largely on our own. We found our way to work by ourselves and spent most of the day supervised just by our employers, not IES.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Vienna is a great place to travel from. I wish I took advantage of that more. You can get extremely cheap bus tickets to tons of great locations, and cheap plane tickets to just about anywhere in Europe. I would tell myself to not be afraid, and just dive headfirst into making memories and experiencing the widely varied cultures of Europe - it's an opportunity I likely won't have again.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

It's really hard to tell - everyone's job is unique to their field of study, so everyone's time at work is a bit different too. The general idea of the program is that you should spend about 32 hours working a week. For some people, that means working Monday through Thursday, 8 hours a day. For me, that sometimes meant working 4 hours Monday, 4 hours Tuesday, then spending all day Saturday and Sunday traveling with my orchestra for a handful of performances.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was being stuck in a country without an effective way to communicate with the people around me. Now, a lot of people in Vienna speak English, but there's something extremely disassociative about not being able to speak the local language fluently when you are living there for months. You feel like an outsider like you don't belong. Honestly, I can't say I totally overcame it.

As time went on, I was more comfortable speaking German, and there were certainly situations that I felt confident speaking in the local language. However, I was far from fluent, and it was hard to shake that imposter syndrome.

If you were to study abroad again, where would you go?

I would love to go back to Vienna. There's still so much of that city that I haven't experienced, and there are so many opportunities I missed out on to travel and see the rest of Europe. I'd love to get hands-on with another company, music or not, and work with them to make them flourish. And I'd love to learn a bit more German and go back when I'm comfortable speaking the language more regularly.