What about after graduation?

by Jeffrey Carter

In my role as the primary person in the Department of Music talking to prospective students, I’m often asked (more by parents than students), about placement rates and what people do after college.

The simple and quick answer is “Lots of things.” The harder answer is helping parents understand that fine arts graduates of any kind are going to gain jobs based as much on aptitude, intelligence, and doggedness (thanks to a recent New York Times article for these great words), as on connections, fortitude, savvy, and grades.  All the training and wonderful education and nurturing (something we do especially well in the small-classroom setting of Webster University) doesn’t go for much if the student hasn’t engaged the importance of strong aural skills, or hasn’t figured out that four hours of practice a day probably makes for a better placement possibility than two!  Likewise, many artists are by nature a bit reclusive, but we live in a world where we have to shake hands with firmness, speak with clarity, embrace the chit-chat with donors, and present ourselves both as businesspersons and artistes.

Another angle of arts placement is portability.  I figured out early on that academics in higher education have to be willing to travel to where the jobs are.  The same is true for artists and music educators.  Job placement opportunities are vastly greater if one is willing to move.

How do we get this across in a 10-second answer to a parent in the midst of packed 30-minute interview?  I think I may print this blog page and hand it over.  If nothing else, these ideas can spark a deeper conversation with both student and parents about what the next four years are going to look like, and how that may play out 48 months down the road . . . .