Yale students pursuing careers as musicians, museum curators or U.S. senators may benefit from a new Office of Career Strategy initiative designed to help students think creatively about their post-graduation plans.
Common Good & Creative Careers, launched last month, provides greater resources for students interested in pursuing careers in nonprofit, arts, government and education sectors. The First Destination Survey of the Yale College Class of 2015 revealed that roughly one-third of Yale graduates pursue careers in these specific sectors, according to OCS Director Jeanine Dames. While OCS has always provided resources for these career paths, Dames said students may not have been aware of them, which the initiative seeks to correct.
“We want to make sure students don’t get turned off from pursuing these careers because they’re not sure how to navigate them,” Dames said. “We worry that, instead of pursuing their passions, students apply to organizations which seem easier because they include a streamlined process.”
Robyn Acampora, director of strategic initiatives and public service careers at OCS, founded and currently heads the initiative. Acampora said that CGCC creates an organizational structure to networking events and OCS resources for fields that previously are underrepresented.
During a Yale College Council meeting last year, Josh Hochman ’18 expressed his frustration about the apparent lack of OCS support for his interest in foreign policy. Hochman said in an interview this week that he was under the impression that OCS did not provide guidance for public service or foreign policy jobs. He also said he used to associate OCS only with consulting and finance careers.
“It’s frustrating to not know where it is you’re going to work, when you know what it is you want to do,” Hochman said, adding that he was impressed by CGCC after he used the initiative to meet with an OCS specialist in government careers.
Derek Webster ’99, OCS associate director for the arts, said many of the more creative career paths require one-on-one advising to discover students’ interests. Webster worked in the film industry for 10 years prior to working at OCS, experience he integrates into his engagement with students interested in the arts.
“A student may aspire to be a painter but wants to see what that really means in terms of outcomes,” Webster said. “Or a writer may want to be a journalist but is also interested in creative or short story writing.”
According to Webster, CGCC covers those fields that deal more with creative and meaningful products rather than financial or political outcomes. And while Acampora said many Yale students are already interested in working toward the common good, she thinks the new initiative will help align these charitable interests with concrete career goals.
Caitlin Dermody ’18, an Education Studies Scholar at Yale, said CGCC has broadened her understanding of what a career in education can be.
“[CGCC] helps us get at the root of our passions and opens our eyes to the possibility of creating social good,” Dermody said.
Besides advising, CGCC offers educational programs, recruiting events and internship guidance. Some long-standing programs at OCS have been incorporated into the CGCC, including the Yale Trek program, which gives students a firsthand look at certain industries by allowing them to shadow a professional in the field. The initiative will also connect students with alumni to expose them to logistical hurdles in entering fields like education, art and government that many other students will never have to think about, Dames said.
“If a student wants to be a sculptor, they need to think about how to obtain studio space or negotiate with galleries,” Dames explained. “In a way, you’re an entrepreneur for your own work product.”
The arts apprenticeship program within CGCC allows students to work alongside successful Yale alumni to see that pursuing a career in the arts is feasible. To that end, CGCC has also published lists of alumni working in certain fields.
Another service run through CGCC called MetroLink DC, connects students interested in careers in government or politics with organizations in the capital.
MetroLink DC, in addition to several other programs on campus, helps students navigate what Dames called “the mammoth recruiting animal that is the government and its security process.” CGCC will bring CIA representatives to campus to discuss the security clearance process in applying for CIA positions.
Acampora said OCS has seen a considerable increase in student interest and attendance numbers at CGCC events since it began this semester. She hopes to improve the program by bringing it to students’ attention and by building more relationships with employers and alumni to get them to visit campus.
A CGCC event on Tuesday in the Loria Center will focus on careers in filmmaking and will feature a discussion with director Pamela Tom.