**Article written by Clayton Shelvin, Career Coach (College of Music and Fine Arts)**

Education in the arts is an integral part of the development of each human being. Those who have studied learning processes throughout the ages, beginning with Plato, have emphasized the importance of the arts in the education process. Arts education refers to education in the disciplines of music, dance, theatre, and visual arts. Professionals in the arts is integral to our society. Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report that stated that arts and culture contributed more than $698 billion to the economy.  The industries that make up the bulk of arts and culture production include broadcasting, movies and videos, publishing, retail sales, performing arts and advertising.  This report became significant, as the U.S. has seen an increase in students entering universities to study theatre, music industry studies, graphic design and fashion and merchandising.

“Art does not solve problems, but makes us aware of their existence,” sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz has said. An arts education, on the other hand, does solve problems. Years of research show that it’s closely linked to almost everything that employers say they want in an employer: a background of academic achievement, interpersonal abilities, flexibility and adaptability, and problem solving skills.  The flexibility and versatility of an arts degree means that graduates have the lion’s share of choices when it comes to which industry they can enter. In 2011 bachelor’s graduates from the arts most frequently found employment in business administration, sales, management, media, hospitality and government agencies. In other words, the possibilities are endless and it’s really up to you where you choose to take your degree and apply your skills.  Here are a few things to remember when beginning career exploration for students in the College of Music and Fine Arts:


Consider all your options – media, business, publishing, marketing, the public sector, arts or community services. If you are interested in a particular industry, take the time to research that industry to better understand the requirements for entry-level roles. You may find roles and organizations that you didn’t even know existed. Research companies in the industry of your choice to understand organizational structures and business models. There are a multitude of resources available for this kind of research including careers counsellors, job search websites, industry associations, company websites and more. Get yourself out there, meet with industry professionals and network as much as you can.  Armed with your arts degree, you may have to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. But with your well-developed writing and analytical skills, there’s nothing to stop you from excelling, progressing and working your way to the top.

Know Your Skill Set – And How To Sell It

By understanding which highly transferable skills you’ve developed during your studies, you will be able to communicate and demonstrate these to potential employers. Many employees look for a few key competencies, preferring to recruit graduates who they can train in industry-specific skills on the job. Some of the most important skills that an arts degree will give you include:

  • Communication skills
  • Critical reading and thinking skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Research skills

Students can see the Career Development Center for assessments that will help to measure your strengths and interests, and will give you an opportunity to have  1-on-1 session with your Career Coach.

Consider Postgraduate Study Options

Many students choose a Bachelor of Arts in order to pursue a particular subject that they are passionate about, such as philosophy or literature or anthropology. For the most part, however, students who choose an arts degree are looking to broaden their knowledge and experience in order to find a satisfying career path. Many arts graduates go on to specialize through postgraduate study. Popular postgraduate courses for arts graduates include educationpsychologyjournalismmarketing and social work. Many arts graduates also choose careers in research or academia. With the in-depth knowledge and skills gained by doing a graduate certificate, graduate diploma or master’s degree, you’ll have the advanced knowledge to launch your career and be an expert in your field.

All students in the College of Music and Fine Arts can set up an appointment with your Career Coach, Clayton Shelvin, to discuss resumes, career exploration, internships, personal assessments and other career-related topics.  Contact the Career Development Center at (504) 865-3860 to set up an appointment today!

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