Special Assistant to the President
for Student Success
Fall 2013: Internships
As the school year moves along, I want to remind you that the Otis curriculum is very demanding, and even the best students can sometimes feel pressure as they try to manage their academic and artistic assignments as well as their lives. Trained professionals on staff are dedicated to supporting student success. If you feel your student needs some help or just some extra attention, please contact the Dean of Students Office, and we can team together to support your student’s success.
What kinds of internships are available, and how do students go about getting them?
This summer Otis interns worked at more than 70 different companies, institutions and organizations, including BCBG (fashion design), Deutsch (advertising, marketing, design), Getty Museum (fine art), Halston (fashion design), Hasbro (toy design), Herzog & de Meuron (architecture), Li and Fung (fashion design), Mattel (toy design), NBC Universal (digital media), Nike (product, fashion design, graphic design) Sony (digital media, illustration) and Trailer Park (digital, graphic design, advertising design, illustration).
Internships usually take place in the summer (because the rigors of the curriculum makes internships during the academic year very difficult), between junior and senior years when students have really begun to bloom in terms of their skills and creativity. Over the years I have known students who have done as many as three internships but most do one or two, and these should be carefully planned by the student and their advisors, the Department Chairs and the Center for Creative Professionals (Otis’ career services office). Even students in the Foundation first-year program should start to explore internship opportunities. Internships allow students to have real experience at companies, organizations and institutions for which they may be interested in working after graduation. Students begin building a professional network, and the internship allows both the student and the organization to see if this is a good match. One reason for our above-national-average employment rate for first jobs before or within three months of graduation is that many students become employed where they interned. So when your student visits, discuss summerinternships. Refer them to the Center for Creative Professionals to begin their exploration of this exciting opportunity.
MAY 2013: Ready for Creative Careers
I’d like to reflect on the students who completed their degrees this year.
Many of this year’s seniors entered in 2009, the last year that I served as the Vice President of Enrollment Management. I worked closely with a number of students who were awarded their degrees during the May 4 Commencement ceremony. What is remarkable about the students and the parents who supported and encouraged them is that they entered college in the middle of this country’s worse financial breakdown since the “Great Depression.” Some of these students and their families faced job losses, foreclosures on their homes, and the almost complete demolition of the student loan market. Despite these factors, most found a way not only to enroll but more importantly, to stay and finish their degrees. They did so with creativity, desire, and old-fashioned hard work. Most of the students with whom I worked secured at least one internship, and many secured two. Most had to work part-time to help pay for school, and given the demands of our curriculum, neither internships nor part-time jobs were easy to do. And they did it with aplomb. Almost 20% of the BFA s graduated with honors or received an academic excellence award. My hat (and if you know me, you know I mean this literally) is off to this year’s graduates and their families.
What are these students’ prospects after Otis? I would say that they are very good. We know from years of alumni responses to surveys that on average approximately 75% of graduates receive their first job within three months of graduation. How do they do that? Remember the aforementioned internships? Many graduates go to work for companies, organizations or individuals with whom they connected in an internship. They also develop brilliant portfolios and reels to show a prospective employer. When I graduated from a liberal arts college, other than a cogent letter of interest and a standard resume, I could not “prove” to a potential employer what I could do. When my daughter graduated from Otis in 2002, her striking portfolio and the confidence with which she could talk about both the designs and concepts allowed her to find work ranging from jewelry design to graphic design for movie collateral materials, packaging design for Mattel, and e-marketing, web design and in-store graphics for fashion firm BCBG. Eleven years later, she is co-owner and creative director for a branding and marketing firm. Among the students I know in the Class of 2013 are those who will work for an animation studio, serve as studio assistants to major fine artists, join community arts organizations, and others who have found positions at companies such as Eli Lilly and Sony Home Entertainment.
Although the economy has improved since the 2008/09 “downturn,” it is still considered a tough employment environment. Yet the Surdna Foundation’s SNAPP (Strategic National Arts Alumni Project) survey found that employment and employment satisfaction in the arts were as high as or higher than other fields of employment (2011 poll of nearly 40,000 who graduated with degrees in the arts).
Every year our Annual Exhibition reminds me what an Otis education does. The brilliant work on display in all majors impressed and amazed the more than 600 employers, collectors and alumni who attended the Preview Exhibition, and the nearly 3,000 family, friends and neighbors who were treated to exciting art and design work, much of which was developed with sustainability in mind.
Please join me in saying congratulations to the Class of 2013!!
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