Category Archives: Career Services

Attend or not attend.

This conference was an eye opening experience and one that I will continually be pondering over the next months and leading up to my decision to attend Los Angeles or not. In an earlier post I defined my mission CAA as one to determine how the conference can best serve current MFA students and recent graduates (focusing on MFA because that is my perspective). Being situated close to New York gave a great advantage of being able to glimpse the conference at a calculated distance. I was able to completely geek out and attend some really great panels but also snoop around, have casual chats with folks about what they wish to get from the conference.

For most, the conference was about meeting people. Old friends, making new ones, and hopefully ones that may hire them in the near future. In these small conversations little bits of information flowed effortlessly for those who were asked, “should an MFA candidate attend the CAA conference while in her last year, months before graduation?” Yes. Do it. But these answers came with a few qualifiers. Make sure to scout the job listings early, in November, apply, and hopefully someone will bite. But most importantly, let those potential employers know that you are planning to attend CAA. Secondly, if you do attend, go to the career mentoring sessions and workshops. At these meetings you are able to bring a résumé, sample cover letter and portfolio for review from someone who has seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of them and able to give a kick in the pants to get your items in order, or reassure you that everything is looking stellar.

One kind woman give one last reminder: remember to have some fun and see what’s going on outside of the conference at museums and galleries. Take advantage of the fact you are in a great art center, whether it be this year in New York, next in Los Angeles, and after that Chicago (?).

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Career Services | 1 Comment

Seeking a Little Guidance

At 10:30 Friday morning, I attended my Career Development mentoring session. Unlike previous mentoring appointments I’ve had at past conferences, I arrived at this one a bit more apprehensive. It was not going to be a simple check in with a colleague, to verify that I was moving along on the right and steady path. No, I was about to discuss a major left turn in my career trajectory, and needed serious advice.

As I’ve previously mentioned in posts here, I’m currently unemployed. Two years ago, I was laid off from a prominent managerial position at a leading art school. After 7 months, I cobbled together two adjunct teaching gigs, and survived the ensuing year prepping and teaching 11 classes between 2 institutions (one on semester; one on quarter), before being pink-slipped from both just 2 months apart. So here I am, another 7 months later. Yet, my decision to change things up goes a little deeper than just lack of jobs.

To make a long story short (and not too personal): I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11/01. The dust settled in my right ear, became an infection, killed my labyrinth. The 24/7 vertigo sent me to the NYU Medical Center/Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine for almost 2 years. I still have 24/7 vertigo, and now I’m almost deaf, but at least I can walk and read. Pretty important for the everyday, and for the academic.

Fast-forward 7 years: My priorities shifted for awhile, especially for the Ph.D. Now I’m 39, only have an MA in art history—not the terminal degree, and have a stalled out career. I am back in the studio for the first in many years. One of the interesting things I have learned, both in research and in experience, is that many survivors of 9/11 are suffering PTSD years later. So here I am, with panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares—almost 10 years later.

For the most part, I have put away the paint, and acquired an eight-harness loom. The side-to-side motion of weaving not only soothes me, but it mimics VOR—the vestibular-ocular reflex, the important eye movement connected to body positioning in space. In other words, weaving reduces vertigo for me—a happy accidental discovery. I am currently conducting additional research on its applications. Textiles are now my primary media.

I have also entered a study at Stanford University, looking at promising treatments for PTSD, which includes fMRI imaging, and a therapy modality called Prolonged Exposure Therapy. It’s connected with the Veterans Administration in Palo Alto. I’m very interested in the VA, because soldiers are coming back with blown out ears, and permanent vertigo.

So, you guessed it—the MFA.

I had been quite familiar with the art history route, and familiarity breeds comfort. Now, I am looking at a completely new route, never traveled before. Scary? Yes. Exciting? Yes. And, of course, when your assigned mentor tells you point blank that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and on the precisely right path, it is entirely worth it to go through with the session, no matter how nerve-wracking. Personal details and all. It’s part of my story, to make my own. Soon, my completed portfolio will speak for me.

Posted in Career Services, New York | 2 Comments

Career Talk

Walking into the Career Services Orientation on Tuesday evening, I was expecting a full house of anxious, anticipating job seekers. It seemed well attended on first glance. Held in the East Ballroom on the third floor of the Hilton, a very large room with a sea of sea foam green-colored chairs, it could have held hundreds.

Speaking to Emmanuel Lemakis, Director of Programs for CAA, and facilitator of the Orientation, he commented that his headcount was 100+, which I thought was quite a few. However, that number was below his expectations. Emmanuel remarked “this was the best showing of jobs and interviewers at CAA in years.” He expected more bodies filling more chairs.

With that in mind job seekers, here’s what you missed that may be useful to you on your job hunt!

For someone like myself, who has been to many conferences, chaired or participated on many career-oriented panels—or, as a former member of an academic administration involved in many stages of the faculty search process, the do’s and don’ts presented by the guest speakers seemed like second nature to me. Not so to many of the attendees in the audience. It made for much nervous and cautious laughter!

Presented by Sheila Pepe, Harriet Senie, and David Sokol, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind as you go through the interview process here at CAA:

• Learn as much as you can about the school you are interviewing for, and its curriculum. Can we say GOOGLE?
• What is their culture?
• Speak in specific, anecdotal, rather than global, terms about your work.
• Ask smart questions, not global questions, about the institution.
• Instead of just selling yourself—listen. What does the institution need to build a better department?
• Do your homework: who are the faculty members & their work? How will your specialty fit into the curriculum?
• Assume an intelligent but uninformed audience when talking about your work during the interview.
• Ask to repeat the question if not understood the first time.
• Wear age-appropriate clothing. (David Sokol used ex: An artist wore an outfit with a light bulb on his head—a definite don’t!) And of course, if you are of a more “mature” age, wearing a mini skirt and mid-drift shirt just won’t fly with most committees nowadays–did they ever?
• Leave them feeling you are perfect for their department and their needs.
• Send a handwritten note after interview.
• The proper mindset: “You only need ONE job.”

• Underline things in your cover letter.
• Call institution about the search.
• Put personal information in application.
• Talk about personal or financial information at the interview.
• Bluff about credentials and knowledge in application.
• Be condescending to the institution.
• Insult interviewer’s intelligence.
• Crash alumni receptions of potential institutions at conferences (including CAA).

The best advice all the panelists gave: MAKE THEM LAUGH!

And if you have not already done so, pick up one of the green CAA Career Services Guides for the 2011 conference. It explains the services available for job seekers and employers alike, including the Candidate Center, the Online Career Center, and the Interview Hall. It also includes additional helpful hints and FAQ for job seekers and Employers.

Posted in CAA, Career Services, Interviews | Comments Off