Upon first glance, the 25 students seated in room 301 of Undergraduate Career Services appeared to be a random slice out of the diverse Yale student body. Most of these Yalies, however, have goals that do not include medical or law school. They aspire to paint. They hope to act. They dream of playing the cello before a packed Lincoln Center audience.

On Wednesday night, UCS held a discussion entitled “Creating Your Career in the Arts.” The talk drew students whose interests and talents span the gamut of artistic fields. From musician to dramatist, sculptor to singer, each student shared a common question: How does someone make a living in the arts?

Beth Olson, a career counselor who led the discussion, challenged the students to look around at the others in attendance and see the potential in each one. She said that if one believes in his or her own talent, achieving the dream really is possible.

“When you look around this circle, you might be looking at the next director of the Smithsonian, a future film star, or a rock star in the making,” she said.

One of the students in attendance, Marisa Futernick ’02, describes herself as a visual artist. Upon graduation this spring, she plans to move to London to pursue her art, but she said she is realistic about the obstacles someone in her field might face. She said she must make enough money to support herself, obtain the necessary work visas and make connections in London. Still, her dream makes it worth attempting these hurdles.

“In ten years, I hope to support myself solely by my art,” she said. “I want my art to be my job.”

Timothy Cooper ’02, whose passions include playwriting and directing, shares Olson’s and Futernick’s optimism.

“I plan to become instantly famous and earn millions of dollars,” he said in regards to his future.

But Cooper added that the reality of finances is an omnipresent fear. He said he is worried that his day job will consume too much of his time and that it will soon be too late to become established in the arts.

Olson offered advice on not only how to deal with fears of financial problems, but also on how to take the first difficult step along the path to an artistic career. She recommended making a list of people who could potentially offer time for an informational interview. She also said it is important to immerse oneself in the artistic community through volunteering.

Olson said there are excellent resources available at Yale who have experience and success in the fields that interest the students. She also recommended that the students turn to themselves for inspiration and look within for motivation.

“The potential is there,” she said. “You just have to believe in it…You have to balance your idealism and your realism, but go after your dream. It really can come true.”

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