Months after expanding its part-time arts career advising position to a full-time position, the Office of Career Strategy is continuing to expand opportunities for students in the arts.
Over the last two years, OCS has taken steps to provide additional support for students who wish to pursue careers in the arts. According to Jeanine Dames, OCS director and assistant dean of Yale College, having an arts-specific career support system on campus is critical, as a career search in arts-related opportunities is very different from looking for opportunities in other industries.
“When I was an undergraduate film studies major, the career strategy office was not thought of as a viable resource for the arts professions,” said Derek Webster ’99, the associate director for the arts at OCS, who has filled the full-time position since May. “It’s my hope that through our continued work with the student organizations, faculty and individual students, we’ll be able to spread the word that the resource is available and the engagement is worthwhile.”
The office is working on developing initiatives such as alumni sourcing for job-shadowing, arts-apprenticeship and industry trip opportunities, as well as art-specific internship fairs and specific workshops for auditioning and screenwriting. The internship fair, for example, would involve “students that have had positive, or at least informative, experiences with past summer opportunities to share details and advice with a broader arts community, many of whom will be looking for some traction in their own search,” Webster said.
Since starting last spring, Webster has already connected many students with internships and post-graduate job opportunities. He said that the initial focus for improving the arts career experience at OCS has been three-fold: to keep students aware of arts-related professional engagements already happening on campus, to work more directly with the students to determine missing career resources and to collaborate with student and faculty-led groups to fill those gaps.
Dames said students searching for arts-related career opportunities look for different experiences than students looking for more traditional internships with private companies or nonprofit organizations. For example, she said, a student interested in dance or musical performance would not be looking for an eight- to 10-week internship experience over the summer.
“More typically, that student may be looking for performing opportunities, both short-term and longer-term, as well as continued lessons and practice opportunities over the summer,” Dames said. “Painters, sculptors and other artists may be seeking short-term opportunities to shadow a professional artist and learn from their experiences.”
Dames added that Webster, a Yale College graduate with professional experience in the Hollywood entertainment industry, is a valuable asset to the OCS team for his relationships with potential employers and arts faculty members, as well as his ability to connect with students who are in the same boat he was in 16 years ago.
Emily Bosisio ’16, who is pursuing a career in entertainment and production, said the new OCS initiative has helped her significantly. Not only did Webster assist her in finding an internship at Capital Records, one of the world’s most successful record labels, but he also advised her closely as she produced “LUX: Ideas Through Light,” an artistic showcase at the Beinecke Library last April.
“I’m really excited that [Webster] has joined the OCS team,” she said. “He is willing to go the extra mile to help students interested in the arts.”
OCS is co-hosting a panel titled “Artist & the Industry” with the Yale Drama Coalition on Tuesday, Dec. 15, an event in which students will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear advice from alumni and arts professionals.
Correction, Dec. 9: A previous version of this article misstated the date of OCS’ “Artist & the Industry” panel. In fact, the event is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15.