The Visual and Performing Arts Alumni panelists shared their perspective on the opportunities and challenges in their career area, as well as how current students might prepare for the future. Each alumnus offered varying perspectives and collectively this offered students a broad palette of information and consideration from which to draw.
The inspiring Panelists and their current areas of career focus:
- Chauncey Bricker - Dance
- Courtney Kenyon - Theatre
- Jeremy McEwen - Music
- Catherine (Cat) Ward – Visual Arts
One student who attended said, “It was inspiring to hear others’ discomfort in trying other things in addition to their main course of study and so I may take a class or two in areas I’m curious about and may just fall in love with.”
Chauncey and Courtney both shared that a number of small moments influenced their career path and led them to where they are today. “Serendipity and the cross disciplinary component of the Arts have provided the foundation” on which Courtney has built her career path. They emphasized the value of exploration in choosing one’s career path and encouraged students to “step beyond their comfort zone and explore outside of the boundaries of where you are.” Embrace the power of networking and failure. Talk to people and shadow people working in areas of interest. Jeremy said, “Don’t be afraid to take chances.” One change he would have made on his educational journey would have been to be more experimental with his creativity.
In terms of achieving career advancement, Courtney and Chauncey encouraged students to be diligent. Make a plan. Have a goal. Aim for it. Have humble confidence. Be willing to change your plan along the way. Your career journey may have twists and turns. Know your resilience. Know your talent. Don’t be afraid to utilize other people’s talents. Learn how to lean on the specialists. Utilize other people’s strengths to build yours.
Panelists Jeremy and Cat also echoed the advice Courtney and Chauncey provided to
students with words of encouragement such as don’t be afraid to explore the many different paths available to you. It is good to have a dream job in mind and yet you want to explore your options along the way. Don’t have blinders on and do pursue other opportunities to showcase your talents. Add other skills to broaden your resume. It is good to have multiple hats (areas of expertise and talent).
Jeremy encouraged students to “Develop your resume and keep your skills fresh; volunteer; go to all the shows and sit and learn; build your skill sets and your confidence.” Cat shared, “You get out of it what you put into it. You need to take the initiative to make connections and go the extra mile. You are making an investment in yourself and your future.” Take advantage of on-campus networking with faculty, staff and fellow students – be part of student clubs on campus and stay involved as an alum of PVCC and engage with other alumni. Develop solid contacts and they will keep manifesting themselves. Making connections with others in your area(s) of interest is key. Look into joining professional organization(s) that align with your career interests; these are typically available to students at a reduced student rate.
The panelists shared how they overcame the challenges they encountered. Jeremy shared the biggest challenge was balancing a family, job and school. Find a balance – plan week by week and not too far out. Focus on the here and now. Working on your craft often aligns with the work you are assigned in school. Get away from procrastination as this will lead into the next phase of your life. Cat found that embracing the notion: “I can really make it through anything” was extremely helpful. She said, “You can accomplish your goals. Believe in yourself.”