College is often a busy time for students. While most of you will be busy completing assignments for your classes, and just keeping your head above water with regard to the semester, spend some time planning for what's ahead – life after graduation. Think of a career as something that doesn't just happen to you; it's something you can design – and create.
Career advice for art majors
Multitask all the time – apply for grants and residencies, build your network, enter
competitions. You will want to be doing all these things even as you look for a job.
Jobs in the art world can range in scale and duration; choose them based on how they
can advance your career.
Use social media to find work, and to promote yourself and your skills. Reach out to SOA alumni – they may be able to help you, or recommend you when something does come up.
Invent some product or service in the art world that people can use (eg. in art infrastructure, transportation, communication, networking).
Move from unpaid internships to paid internships or positions. As a practicing artist, do not work for free.
Apply for jobs effectively – refrain from emailing your CV to lots of random agencies in the hope that one of them will have a job. Pick up the phone instead and be bold – ask to speak to the director of the agency or arts organisation. Be confident and introduce yourself – explain how you'd love to work there and enquire if there are any opportunities. If you make it to an interview, do your reseach on the company and the position.
Stay in touch with your peer group – use friends for support and advice, and keep each other informed of opportunities.
Network effectively, and constantly. Join a professional association.
Keep making work.
While money is important, being an artist is about having a practice – which extends beyond the studio, and beyond the art market. Selling work does not mean that your practice is developing.
Find a mentor – someone older and more successful, who can give you advice, and who has an interest in seeing you succeed.
Start building up your portfolio while you are still an undergraduate. This should contain examples of your own ideas rather than just course work. Enter as many competitions and exhibitions as possible and begin to get your work known.
A wide range of employers – not just in art – will value the transferable skills you have acquired, including: the ability to develop individual ideas and collaborate with others; observational, research and analytical skills; creative problem solving; the ability to learn from criticism and be objective about your work; an openness to new influences and concepts; entrepreneurial skills, even the ability to set up a business. In showing your work at competitions and exhibitions, you will have gained experience in meeting deadlines, displaying work to advantage, marketing, event management and organisational skills.
If you are an undergraduate, think about graduate school, as a way to develop your art.
Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, for information on particular occupations, and the outlook for the next 5-10 years: