How does a student majoring in an arts related field find a career?
Arts education often consciously does not teach students how to integrate their artistic pursuits with business and technology know-how - skills which, in lieu of royal patronage of eras past, have become essential for a successful career in the 21st century. So as an artist or art historian or musician, how can you can earn a living after college? How can you get beyond Oscar Wilde’s observation: “When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss money.”
Fortunately, job opportunities in the arts are more numerous than commonly believed. From computer aided drafting and design to science illustration and art therapy, creative people are in demand. If you can convert your artistic skills into the digital domain, you will vastly increase your employability, especially in fields like advertising, video game design, film, and publishing. Art and engineering are also intricately connected. Besides traditional industrial and product design, creative people are also needed for the emerging field of “eco-design,” which focuses on sustainable materials. Advertising and film require sound engineers and musicians, who should be familiar with the most commonly used digital audio workstations. Composers make great coders because composition is math, and a type of coding. Marketing and advertising require talented writers too - good well written content is still king.
Of course an artist, musician, or writer can simply excel at being a pure artist, musician, or writer, but this path is fraught with peril and financial uncertainties and instability. Beyond exceptional ability, an artist must make her/his “brand” as compelling and desirable as possible, which involves extensive networking, social media, and self-promotion, and a bit of luck. Working in the creative industry, in finance, marketing, and administrative roles, are alternative ways to remain connected to the arts while ensuring financial security.
So don’t restrict yourself to imagining that the only path forward is becoming the next Mozart or Michelangelo. Don’t be left wondering what to do with that art history degree. Your education has made you qualified for a wide range of jobs, within industries and in roles that touch upon your passion. Consider broader options: explore private sector companies as well as educational institutions and non-profits. Look at creative industries, technology companies, communications and marketing companies, design firms and more. These pathways will build your skills, create opportunities and dovetail your talent and your interest in the arts to your career. There are many careers available to those who are willing to be open-minded about their range of options.
Visit Zoomdojo to learn about our events that focus on how young graduates can connect the arts with the wider economy in a way that is both meaningful and pays the bills. We also publish listings for arts-related internships and jobs, which you can access via Zoomdojo job search.