Work Of Art Tailored to Help Art Majors Succeed

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Dec. 2, 2016 - Nearly every student has concerns about what they'll do when school is over. For those in the arts that can be especially tricky.

To make career paths clearer, last year the Arts Group Advising Center started Work of Art: Career Series for Student in the Arts. The center and series serve students in studio art, art history, design, theatre and dance, music, and cinema and digital media. 

“We considered our students’ needs and what we could reasonably and successfully do right away,” said Ariel Collatz, the advising center’s undergraduate programs manager. 

The quick answer was the series of workshops covering topics like creating a presence in cyberspace, networking, and interviewing techniques tailored specifically to arts majors. 

“Our workshops need to be different and more directly related to students in our areas,” said Julie McGilvray, undergraduate advisor and director of the series. “And art students often need more assistance because career paths are not as obvious.”

That means little things like creating a resume that lists accomplishments by function, not by chronology, and “we put a great deal of emphasis on networking,” McGilvray said. 

The center and series have resources on internships, regularly develop more internships, and encourage students to reach out to organizations they’re interested in to create their own internships, McGilvray said. 

“We want to empower the students to take charge,” Collatz said. 

If a student is committed to making art, the center wants to help them keep making art. “Some students come to us and say ‘How am I going to make a living at this? I might change my major,’” McGilvray said. “If the students can’t see a path, they’ll change majors. Our job is to help them succeed with an art major.” 

They may find that success through acting, painting or composing, but they might be just as happy and successful in areas less directly related, such as theatre or film production, arts administration, or teaching. 

“They may work in their specific field, but may find success in other fields,” Collatz said. “Both are wonderful success stories.”


— Jeffrey Day, content strategist, Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies