Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment | Job Hunting and Evaluating on the Heels of Graduation

Open Enrollment

This is not the first time on Open Enrollment that I have discussed my post-graduate school future.

In January, I was already feeling the pressure as demonstrated in my post, “So My Last Semester Lies Ahead, Then What?” My colleagues were feeling this, several of them scoring a job and putting the last moments of finishing school on hold since a career trumps all. But now with my graduation a bit less than a week away, I am evaluating all I have done as I worked on my Masters in New Arts Journalism from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).

On days I do not have class, I revise my resumes and my curriculum vitae. I like to think of the combination of my higher education and job experience as diverse, but in month three of a job hunt, I am considering why the application materials I spend entire days working on and sending fall on those proverbial deaf ears. It is disheartening, yes. But after the initial grief-coated haze of rejection cleared, I started to think objectively and pragmatically about how potential employers may be perceiving me.

Am I overqualified? Under-qualified? Is my education and experience so diverse that potential employers may be thinking that I lack focus? These are just a couple of the thoughts that occupy my mind when I consider my place in an already-difficult career field like the arts, often a tenuous place to be, but more so in an economy that continues to sink like stilettos in dewy lawns.

In my post from earlier this year, I discussed the importance of seeking out one’s Career Services office at his or her college or university for feedback about resumes, CV’s, and cover letters, as well as the creation of a professional website. With the  website completed since my job hunt began months ago, and my resumes and CV’s reviewed and revised, it feels I am in a sensible and sturdy position as a job-seeker.

But pragmatic thinking aside, there is also the reignited passions and drive that graduate school facilitates.

photo by Carrie McGath

In addition to many hours of freelance writing gigs, both paid and unpaid, as well as internships in museums and my day to day graduate work, I have retained and nurtured a love for art and its connection with education. My current internship at The Art Institute of Chicago in Family Programs has made me feel this fully again, leading me to wholly believe in the importance of Cooperative Education internships while one is a student.

Yesterday, I hosted a pop-up program for kids and their families. I was able to draw in twenty participants and the program, “Fantasy Animal Collages” was a resounding success and gave me the B-12 shot that I needed after these silent months of job applications. This is a concrete, tangible success I may now discuss in arts education-related cover letters.

The moral of my story is this: these concrete examples, documented with images and examples of an internship experience, as well as relevant extracurricular experience, demonstrates an inherent drive, passion, and love for art. I can’t imagine like-minded ears falling deaf to that.