Career opportunities for students in the arts may be difficult to procure, but they exist, and the Office of Career Strategy is actively working to help students find them.
Associate Dean of Yale College and OCS Director Jeanine Dames said there have been four arts workshops offered by OCS between the months of December and January, catering to students interested in different specialty areas ranging from theater to screenwriting. She added that the resources available to students pursuing careers in these areas are perhaps even stronger than those available to students in more traditional career paths, such as finance or consulting.
“I think the resources we’re building in the arts are some of the best that there are,” Dames said. “We see ourselves as the people who can get you to the experts and help you navigate the path, and then whichever path you decide to go down is up to you.”
Dames said one of the events offered last semester was an audition workshop, where OCS brought in a casting director for those specifically interested in performing. In December, there was an event where students were informed about the different ways to fund their artistic interests and an event for those interested in screenwriting, she said. At the screenwriting workshop, students were able to submit screenplays that were then workshopped by Timothy Cooper ’02, a professional screenwriter.
OCS Associate Director for the Arts Kathleen Volz said the approach taken at the screenwriting workshop, a combination of critique and general advice, was appreciated by students who not only sought feedback for their work, but guidance from an individual who has been through the process of acquiring a job in the film industry.
“Students want to know what this job search process will look like after [they graduate], and they’re looking for a very clear set of steps,” Volz said. “And what’s really hard, even for me, is that I can’t say to a student that if you move to LA and write and write and write and then submit, your work is going to be picked up by the 10th submission, because there’s no guarantee. I think the more times students hear it, from alumni and practitioners, they begin to see what the process looks like and whether they have the tolerance to sustain the volatility that this career may or may not present.”
Volz added that one of the difficulties with planning events for students in the arts is that student interest varies widely — someone interested in theater may want to become a playwright, or they could be seeking an acting or directing role. It is difficult to hold an event with mass appeal, she said, because there are so many specific areas within each field.
In order to appeal to larger brackets of students interested in broader industries, Volz said OCS will be holding an event on Jan. 30 titled “The Artist and the Industry,” where directors, playwrights, actors and producers will all be present to speak to students about their different careers.
“It’ll give students who thought they just wanted to be a performer an opportunity to hear from a producer, because that might be what their calling will be,” she said.
According to Volz, OCS will hold a panel in February for students searching for careers in music who do not want to immediately go to graduate school. The traditional career path for students interested in music is to attend a school of music after they receive their undergraduate education, she said, and OCS seeks to provide a resource to students who would prefer to go directly into a music career after graduating from the University.
Vance Dekker-Vargas ’17, who plans on pursuing a career in studio art, said he has had trouble finding positions and resources that match his artistic interests.
“Unlike the overwhelming opportunities offered to students interested in finance, consulting and computer science, there are very few internships and pre-professional summer positions offered to students who wish to pursue studio art as a career,” Dekker-Vargas said.
However, Trey Pernell ’17, who hopes to pursue a career in music after graduation, said he has been impressed with the resources available for students interested in the arts, particularly those involved in theater. He added that from what he has seen on the OCS Symplicity website, there are also a great number of internships available for arts students, including those hoping to go into music.
Volz said many students may default to the method of using on-campus recruitment to find a job, simply because those jobs seem obvious and available. However, she added, opportunities for students interested in the arts do not necessarily travel to campuses across the country.
“[OCS] is here for you, alumni are here for you and faculty are so willing to help,” Volz said. “Know that just because it’s not dangling in front of you doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just takes a different approach. You need to tap into all of your resources, instead of the more one-dimensional campus recruiting approach.”