To gain insight regarding why student interest in the arts rarely seems to lead to them concentrating in it, Colgate Career Services put together a focus group of those involved with the arts at Colgate.

Eight students gathered on Wednesday, February 27 in Little 204 to discuss the different ways students are involved in the arts on campus and how Career Services can help those interested. The group of students was put together by senior Fjordi Mulla and sophomore Caylea Barone, two Career Services interns. The discussion was facilitated by Michael Sciola, Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Career Initiatives.

Students attending ranged from first-years to seniors, art concentrators to hobbyists and painters to musicians. Students expressed a general feeling of pessimism about pursuing a career in the arts. They revealed that the classic “starving artist” trope is one that proves very intimidating to Colgate students interested in the arts, which often leads to many pursuing different or more “practical” concentrations and career paths instead.

While the reason for this mentality involves factors both external and internal to Colgate, Sciola acknowledged that there are things Career Services can do to help change this mindset among both students and faculty. Proposals that were brought up involved bringing a wide scope of lecturers and alumni involved in the arts and discussing different potential careers in Introduction to Studio Art, the foundational course for studying the arts at Colgate.

The group also addressed niche interests, and explored how students can engage with those interests at a small school like Colgate. First-year Michael Watson is interested in the culinary arts, and spoke to how little opportunity there is for him to explore that academically at Colgate.

“To engage with [the culinary arts], I’ve tried to do interdisciplinary studies. I’ve spoken to professors in architecture and art history about food, but it’s really difficult to study it. The alumni network [related to culinary arts] is pretty much one person who doesn’t come to campus or anything, but the focus group tonight was promising. As a first-year, it’s good to see the arts are being focused on, so I’m excited to see what happens,” Watson said.

Senior Esteban Dardani was also glad to see the office taking an interest in artists at Colgate.

“It’s great to see Career Services expanding the scope of their commitment to helping students achieve their goals after Colgate,” Dardani said.

Contact Abby Blair at ablair@colgate.edu.

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