Bender met a picture-perfect summer

Senior Quinn Bender of West Long Branch interned in the
imaging department and photography studio at the MET in
New York City.


Senior Quinn Bender of West Long Branch interned in the imaging department and photography studio at the MET in New York City.

Julia Homza

Some CHS students spent their summers tanning at the shore and hanging out with friends. On the other side of the spectrum, senior Quinn Bender of West Long Branch spent the summer of 2022 interning at the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York City.

Bender worked in the imaging department, photography studio and created content for their social media accounts. Despite being an internship, Bender says that this program is also seen as educational – for instance, the application process was more like college applications than traditional job interviews.

Despite the long process, Bender was overjoyed when he heard about his acceptance into the program.

“I was pretty surprised to see that I’d been accepted and definitely ecstatic. While the museum is huge and has tons of people working in it, only about 20-30 high school interns are accepted each summer,” Bender said. “I also learned from one of my supervisors that this year had one of the biggest applicant pools in a while, totaling around 28,000 applicants. This was crazy to me.”

From the studio to the office, there was always something new in store for Bender at the museum.

“Every few days or so my supervisor would have a new piece of art on her set and we’d spend the next few days lighting it and getting shots of it,” Bender said. “On the days where we wouldn’t have anything to shoot, I would try to help out with whatever mundane busywork needed to get done or I’d spend a lot of time working on media strategies and cadences for the department’s Instagram.”

The daily work and commute weren’t the hardest parts for Bender, but rather the end of the experience.

“Leaving was definitely the hardest part for me. The work I did was genuine, meaningful and active work. I was very thankful to not be doing coffee runs. It was work that I love doing,” Bender said. “I know one day I’ll have the opportunity to work in a setting like that again if I choose to, but in the meantime I’m definitely missing it.”

Despite being surrounded by of the most famous and revolutionary art in the world, Bender’s favorite part of his time at the MET was the people. This included a New York Times photographer and a fellow intern who recognized him from social media.

“My favorite part was definitely meeting all of the incredibly talented and amazing people who work at the museum. My supervisor and mentor Eileen was such a great teacher and she opened my eyes to so many new things,” Bender said. “I had the pleasure of meeting the heads of several departments too, including the head of communications, painting conservation and photo conservation. I didn’t get to see the other high school interns often, but it was great being able to meet such like-minded and interesting people.”

Though Bender does not plan to pursue an arts-based career, his main takeaway from this experience is about the blurred lines between professional and personal interests.

“My ‘professional’ interests in social media and marketing have always differed from my more personal interests and passions like photography or drawing,” Bender said. “I’ve always been under the impression that one has to choose to pursue one or the other, but I’ve come to learn that’s not true. There is easily a middle ground and it’s comforting to know that no matter where I end up career-wise, I’ll never have to leave behind my creativity and my art.”