Keeping fine arts graduates in the fine arts

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a national arts data and research organization, has collected and analyzed data from over 200,000 arts graduates from across North America since 2008. SNAAP data have helped change the national conversation on the value of an arts degree. The U College of Fine Arts regularly partners in SNAAP’s efforts in surveying our own graduates and we are grateful to our alumni who have participated. Each survey gives us deeper insight into how best to serve our students.

Recently, SNAAP released a special report examining what factors lead arts graduates to stay in the arts throughout their professional careers. The report clearly revealed that students are more likely to work professionally in the arts if they have created a network and completed an arts-based internship during their time in school.

This is not news to us. We have long known the value of internships and professional networks and this data just further confirms our understanding of what students need to successfully transition in the arts. The College of Fine Arts continually invests in developing a strong internship program and providing opportunities and information to maximize the professional success of our students, from experiential learning opportunities to building professional networks. Since 2012, the CFA has hired student interns to learn about various aspects of arts administration and strengthen their professional networks. And in 2013, interns assisted in the creation of our award-winning ArtsForce program.

We encourage you to get to know your many professional resources.

Here are just a few of the ways CFA invests in student success and professional development:

Full-time CFA internship coordinator

In partnership with the CFA Undergraduate Student Affairs team and the University’s Internship Council, our full-time Internship Coordinator Kate Wolsey facilitates the development and expansion of internships, acts as the college’s primary contact for internship coordination, and assists in the coordination of the award-winning ArtsForce program.

Career Treks to local and regional arts organizations

During the academic year, ArtsForce leads regular Career Treks to prominent local and regional arts organizations so students can meet arts professionals in their work environments, and experience firsthand the day-to-day operations and inner-workings of fine arts companies.

Employment and internship opportunities  

Our Internship Coordinator regularly meets with employers to create opportunities and promote internships in the community. Open opportunities are shared with students through a weekly post on the ArtsForce Canvas community. All internships are vetted using the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) standards.

Helping students articulate the value of their degree

In the ArtsForce Canvas community, we regularly post relevant information that helps students articulate the value of their arts degree, become internship ready and learn how to network. Such topics include, how to conduct an informational interview, resources for improving your resumé and cover letter, ways to get involved in the art community on and off campus and connecting students with mentors in their field. Check out all the past programs and events here.

Informational interviews with community professionals

ArtsForce Asks” is a Finer Points blog series that highlights informational interviews conducted by ArtsForce interns with arts professionals. This series aims to provide CFA students with internship and career advice from the employer’s perspective and illuminate the varied paths to success artists take.

Annual networking event 

ArtsForce hosts an annual networking event that brings arts employers to campus, giving students a chance to network, receive professional guidance, ask questions and connect with fellow CFA students across disciplines.

Student interns reflect and share their experiences  

Once students complete internships, we are eager to share their advice with their peers. Starting this fall, “Insights from an Intern,” a new Finer Points blog series, will highlight exceptional internship experiences of CFA students, as well as their advice for students seeking similar opportunities. Check out the first student profile here.