St. Olaf College | News

Learning to turn a love for dance into a post-graduation plan

St. Olaf student Jacob Borg ’17 performs at the Teatro Comunale di Monfalcone in Italy with dance partner Cinzia Mazzotta.

Expression, communication, awareness.

These are some of the skills that Jacob Borg ’17 is learning as a dance major at St. Olaf College.

It’s his off-campus internship this semester, though, that is giving him a glimpse into dancing post-graduation.

Borg is learning the importance of the business and management side of the arts through his internship at Dance with Us America, a studio in the Twin Cities run by dance champions Elena and Gene Bersten.

The internship is giving Borg an inside look at the skills it takes to manage a studio, be a flexible instructor, and plan events.

Through the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, Borg arranged to receive academic credit for his internship at Dance With Us America. He worked with St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Dance and Department Chair Sheryl Saterstrom to bring an academic framework to his experience.

As part of the college’s commitment to supporting students as they navigate potential career paths, the Piper Center offers numerous resources to help students secure internships that enrich their studies and hone their professional skills. Last year 151 students earned academic credit for their internships. In addition to providing students with the ability to register their internships for academic credit, the Piper Center offers students funding for unpaid or underpaid internships.

Saterstrom says the skills and values learned in the dance major translate to Borg’s work in the studio. “His love of dance and desire to share it with others is being combined with the ‘real world of dance’ through his internship,” she says.

In addition to providing students with internship resources, St. Olaf brings nationally recognized arts professionals — many of whom are St. Olaf alumni — to campus each year to discuss innovation in the arts. The Making it in the Arts Conference focuses on how best to apply artistic interests and creativity for success in future business endeavors. This year’s keynote speaker was Stuart Pimsler, the artistic co-director of the Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater company.

All of these resources help students like Borg, who is the president of the St. Olaf Ballroom Performance Team and assists professors in several ballroom dance courses, think strategically about a career in the arts.

While Borg’s post-graduation plans are not yet set — the St. Olaf sophomore may stay in the United States or return to his native country of Malta — he knows he wants to turn his love for dance into a career.

“This internship has made it clear to me that in the future I would like to either work in or own my own dance studio,” says Borg.