In an era when post-college job placement is critical, the legitimacy of creative pursuit can be unfairly called into question. What art and design student hasn't been subjected to a “starving artist” joke or two? And yet many economists have stated that we're perched on the precipice of a globalized social transformation where creativity, innovation, and invention are the strongest, most sustainable currencies.
This year, Stamps School alums Sara Radin (BA '11) and Shifra Whiteman (BFA '11) have dedicated themselves to working with Stamps Career Development Coordinator John Luther to create the Career Bootcamp, a day-long event to help current Stamps students understand just how advantageous, profitable, and desirable their creative thinking is within the job market - and how to harness that positioning to navigate post-college career-land.
Career Bootcamp participants will learn the ins and outs of networking, interview skills, and freelancing. Perhaps most importantly, Career Bootcamp is designed to give current students a chance to connect with alums, learn from their experiences, and to cultivate a professional network.
Sara Radin (BA '11)
“We really want to give students a taste of what it means to be a creative professional - to show them how you can take an art degree and translate that into a fruitful career,” said Radin.
“College plays a critical role in helping students understand art and design on a physical level, but we want to help students think more broadly of all the ways their skills can be applied, of all the opportunities their skills qualify them to pursue,” said Whiteman.
Both Sara Radin and Shifra Whiteman have spent the last five years parlaying their Stamps degrees into fulfilling, rewarding careers. Sara is a trend forecaster and editor for WGSN, a NYC-based online publication for the fashion and design industries. In this role she reports on trends in art, culture, and travel; Sara is also a contributing writer to Huffington Post and the brainchild behind cultureisland, a digital space for published interviews with creative practitioners and an umbrella brand for creative live happenings. Shifra Whiteman sustains a successful freelance design practice in Chicago, while simultaneously pursing her Masters in Art Management degree at Columbia College Chicago. While both Sara and Shifra speak passionately about successful career development now, they weren't always so confident.
“I wasn't a very active student during my time at Stamps,” confessed Radin. “I felt lost creatively. I'm not very technically skilled and had trouble finding a medium that suited my abilities. But I loved thinking conceptually and being around other art students. There was so much energy! Luckily I've been able to find a place for my skills professionally in the fashion industry and outside of that, as a curator.”
Shifra Whiteman (BFA '11) with pillows designed by Katie Chappuis, a member of Whiteman's Pintl+Keyt design team.
Whiteman added, “While it is important to hone your artistic and technical skills in college, it's equally important to know how to get your name out there before you graduate, how to connect with publications, companies, & galleries, and go to conferences and events that will help you to create a network.”
“The Career Bootcamp is a chance for students to hear our stories, learn everything we wish we'd known about creative careers,” continued Whiteman.
“We want students to be more aware of the challenges that lie ahead as well as learn some hard skills and gain insight into our careers and experiences. We hope it will give them a leg up.”
In tandem with a host of other Stamps career preparation initiatives - Portfolio Expo, creative career programming, alumni class and critique visits, and one-on-one coaching - Stamps Career Development Coordinator, John Luther, has high hopes for Stamps graduates.
“Stamps students have so many career resources at their disposal - many of them new and focused on leveraging the University of Michigan's incredible alumni network," Luther said.
“Approximately 70-80% of Stampers end up working in the creative industries post graduation. We're prepping students for the world out there and we need the dedication of driven, recent alums like Sara and Shifra to make sure our career training is reflective of the job market our students are about to walk into.”
The creative demands of the 21st century have given artists and designers an unparalleled relevancy in today's job market. Creative practitioners are more than the products they design and create; they are trained in the ability to observe the world, to interpret what they see, and to articulate their experiences for an audience. They are skilled in the art of finding and creating connections. They are adaptable, action-oriented makers. They seek to define and create new solutions before most have even identified the problem. And as creative practitioners with strong cross-disciplinary connections and incredible career coaching, students at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design are uniquely positioned for success in both the now and in whatever the future may bring.
Career Bootcamp unfolds at Stamps on February 20th. Interested to learn more about Sara Radin and Shifra Whiteman? Read interviews with both here: