Creativity and Community: Programming at Art With a Heart 

Nathalie Akbari (Art with a Heart Intern and InBaltimore Cohort 2022)

When I accepted the position of Programming Intern at the Art With a Heart (AWAH) community organization in Baltimore, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have always enjoyed art and community work, but I haven’t had much experience in the nonprofit world previously. I was nervous to begin on my first day, as I didn’t know what the environment would be like and how I would fit in. However, from the moment I stepped foot in the AWAH office, I was immediately welcomed and encouraged to jump right into work, collaborating with my supervisor and fellow interns.  

As a Programming Intern, I facilitate the efficiency of the community art classes they offer by organizing the lessons and supplies needed for teachers to facilitate effectively, selecting appropriate curriculum for classes, and working with other departments within the organization.  

Day-to-Day Experience 

Each day in the AWAH office can look very different. First, I usually connect with my supervisor (the Program Assistant at AWAH) to learn what projects and classes we will be focusing on that day. Then I head to the programming area to start prep for lessons and supplies that teachers will need for their classes with other interns.  

Once a week, I attend the programming department meetings and help to take notes about what tasks need to get done by which person, what curriculum needs to be developed or changed, and learn more about how program development works. Then, I usually take some time to work on my independent projects to select and update curriculum for specific classes (It’s very interesting to see all the different lessons that are possible!) Finally, I check back in with my supervisor and the other interns to wrap up the day and talk about what we need to do the next day.  

The People at AWAH 

One of my favorite parts of this experience so far has been engaging with my fellow interns and other coworkers at AWAH. Everyone here is extremely passionate and engaged with their work, and it has been amazing to interact with them and learn from their dedication and interest in what they do. The environment at AWAH is extremely collaborative, with everyone’s doors always open to pop into to ask a question or even just for a quick chat.  

In the first few weeks that I have been here, I have met almost every single employee and had meaningful conversations with most of them. It is really inspiring to be able to engage with people who are so passionate about helping the Baltimore community and the work they do.  

An Art With a Heart public art installation 

Taking Initiative 

I was excited to take this internship because of the opportunity to learn about how community education programs operate and all of the work that goes into that. My first few weeks, I was doing more of the behind-the-scenes work of packing lessons for art classes and organizing supplies, but I wanted to also engage in opportunities to gain experience and skills in the more administrative side as well.  

For instance, I took the initiative to speak with my supervisor about getting more involved with that side of programming, and she and the program director were very eager to help me do so. I have been able to attend the weekly programming department meetings, and was also able to start an independent project to select and develop curriculum for art classes at certain community sites. This experience has helped me not only gain skills in program operation, but also confidence in speaking up and taking on more responsibility, which I will take with me in the future.  

Looking Forward 

My experience at Art With a Heart has been amazing so far, and I am looking forward to starting as an assistant in community art lessons, where I will be able to engage directly with community members and see how the curriculum I have been working on is actually implemented. I am also looking forward to taking on more responsibility on the programming and administrative side, and just learning more throughout the summer! 

If you would like to learn more or get involved with Art With a Heart, check out their website here:, or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn (! 

By Contributor