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Arts Career Night Creates Intimate Networking Atmosphere

Assoc. News Editor

Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

arts career

Alex Gaynor / Heights Staff

Another iteration of Career Night for the Arts, an event that has taken place annually since 1999, was held in the McMullen Museum on Tuesday night. Unlike the larger Boston College Career Fair that many students are familiar with, the Career Night for the Arts brings in around 20 alumni who have found success in the arts each year to speak with students about their careers in a more intimate setting.

“The event is more intimate so students feel more comfortable approaching the alumni,” said Sarah McDermott, program director of the BC Arts Council, the organization that planned the event. “A high comfort level is important because students need to have these conversations. These conversations allow students who understand the arts in an academic sense to learn about the arts in a professional sense.”

This year, the McMullen Museum was split into a number of sections based on the professions of the alumni. There was a section for alumni who worked in the literary arts, a section for dance, a section for the performing arts, a section for museums and galleries, and a section for other visual arts. Students who attended the event were given a map of the museum that included all of these sections and which alumni were standing in each of them. The alumni in attendance did not make formal presentations. Students were expected to walk up to them and start conversations, a task that was not overwhelming for many students.

“I really enjoyed the setup of the evening,” said Matt Consalvo, A&S ’15. “Everyone was so approachable. I felt like I already knew these people even though I hadn’t met them. The alumni were very open. I think that says a lot about the sense of BC camaraderie.”

Notable alumni who attended the event included Chuck Hogan, BC ’89, a New York Times bestselling author who has written several critically acclaimed novels, including Prince of Thieves, which was awarded the Hammett Prize for “literary excellence in the field of crime writing,” and was adapted into the 2010 film The Town. Notable alumni representing the performing arts section included Tim Davis, BC ’02, CEO of The Boston New Music Initiative, a non-profit organization that maintains an “international network of composers, performers, conductors, directors, and champions of music in order to generate new music concerts, compositions, collaborations, and commissions.”

Event organizers strongly stressed the importance of a distinct Career Night for the Arts. “It is absolutely crucial that we have a Career Night for the Arts,” said Janet Costa Bates, associate director of the BC Career Center, an office that co-sponsored the event. “BC plans science, marketing, communications, and arts career nights. Of all of those, arts is the most crucial because students pursuing a career in the arts are choosing a non-traditional career path. Many alumni that work in the arts are self-employed. If you are going on this search on your own you need guidance. Our alumni are our students’ GPS here.”

Many students who attended the event were grateful for the chance to receive guidance from alumni who had been successful in non-traditional career paths.

“The Career Night for the Arts was very helpful because I was able to talk to someone who had graduated from BC and followed my dream career path and could give me advice on how to get there,” said Alexandra McKenzie, A&S ’15.

The formula for this year’s Career Night for the Arts, according to event organizers, was to keep what has been working since 1999, but add some small changes.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve, but the simplicity is what makes this event so great,” McDermott said. “This year we have added an online drop box that students can look at that includes the participating alumni’s resumes and portfolios, as well as any advice they might have.”

The real key to the event, McDermott believes, is the alumni.

“They love it,” she said. “Some have come back for seven, eight, or 12 years. They understand what it feels like to not know how to proceed, and they are always willing to help out.”

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