Art Students worry about post-grad employment

Kaynan ConrodContributor 

According to Southern art professor Lachelle Workman says that when she was an art student at the University of Connecticut, career plans were rarely discussed and guidance for the future from administration was nonexistent.

“Professors in my undergrad didn’t give me any information on how to take my education and go get a job,” said Workman. “In terms of job search, everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from other people such as friends who have had just a bit more experience than me.”

For art students, life after college can be intimidating, especially in such a competitive field where only the profound seem to succeed. Like any other successful career, it does not just happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication.

In 2017, the employment rate was higher for art students who have earned degrees in levels of education above high school, according to the National Center for Education.

“The employment rate was highest for young adults with a bachelor’s or higher degree (86 %). The employment rate for young adults with some college (80 %) was higher than the rate for those who had just completed high school (72 %), which was, in turn, higher than the employment rate for those who had not completed high school (57 %).”

according to NCES. When the graduation process nears, students begin to apply for jobs and internships. It is no mystery that jobs in the corporate world will provide a steady income, whereas for art students who find themselves outside of that world, the story isn’t the same.

“I think my professors have prepared me to enter my own world. But the real world as defined by majority of people, no,” said Steve Jean-Simon, a senior studio art major with a concentration in photography.

Jean-Simon feels there is a stigma. He said: “There is a stigma definitely, but your starving even when you’re in college. Art is a competitive and hard thing, so it’s possible you can be broke for a while. But if you know yourself and your goals, you won’t stay at that starving artist stage forever.”

Many are distressed over post-graduation plans and securing a job in the tough economy. Lindsey Perkins, a senior who specializes in silk screening at Corcoran College of Art and Design, stated to the the Washington Post that she fears “her specialties at the $27,000-a-year private school — print- and screen making — might not position her well in the increasingly survivalist economy.”

Receiving a job in the art industry is tough especially trying to manifest your own employment right after college when you want it.

“Believe it or not, there are a ton of people out there that pay a significant amount of money for their kids prom and graduation photos you just need to know how to market that stuff and provide whomever your working for with quality work that’s like nothing they’ve seen before,” said Jean-Simon.

There are many opportunities for employment and self-discovery that art students just don’t know about. “There are residencies out there that pay for you to travel the world and work on projects If I had known this in my undergrad, my mind would have been blown,” said Workman.

There have been students who have been in the art program but shied away from it in fear of not being employed or having the ability to make a living out of it. The end result to this is students abandoning their passions and choosing a major that they are minimally interested in studying.

“My current major is sociology which I find to be lackluster I stopped making pottery because I couldn’t see myself making a living out of it,” said Christianna Peabody.

“Even making something that I wasn’t proud of, still made me happy. I got to create something out of nothing and that just made me over the moon happy.”

An artist’s whole career is a practice. You keep getting better and better. If you have the facilities and supportive faculty, that is all you need.

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