April 29, 2015

#careerweek: Alumni Success Seminar

This spring, the Career Ambassadors developed Career Week -- a series of workshops, seminars and tours to help students think about their career plans and what it means to be a creative professional -- which made its debut on April 6th. One of those events was a Pratt Alumni Success Seminar with four recent alumni who shared their experience and background.

The four panelists were awesome, engaging, hilarious and down to earth, and it was fantastic to sit and chat with them. As moderator, I spoke with Talia Marshall (2011 BFA in ComD Advertising/Art Direction), Dakota Sica (2013 BFA in Sculpture), Harry Bogosian (2009 BFA in ComD Illustration) and Hannah Mishin (2005 BFA in Painting). (A fifth member came down with food poisoning and was kind enough to not share that particular experience with the group.)

Our alumni talked about their experiences at Pratt that influenced their path as a creative professional . Three of the four participated in internships while completing their degree. Harry used his internships as an opportunity to decide what he wanted to do and continued to freelance on the side while interning.

Talia also interned each year and noted how advertising has a business aspect that you should not ignore -- it is an opportunity for you to learn about the back end of advertising and gain more knowledge and experience that helps when looking for  full-time positions. She also noted that it is okay to not know everything. Sometimes you don’t know you what you want to do until you are doing it, which is part of the joy of being an intern. Talia did stress that you should try to find a mentor who can offer feedback and advice to help you develop.

Hannah’s perspective is that she “owed my life to my art” and she spoke about what success means. To her, success is the ability to maintain her practice as an artist. Some of the work she creates shows the “lineage of an idea in visual form”. She said that you should always follow your gut in your artwork.

When asked for advice to pass onto current students, Dakota said: “Things aren’t what you expect them to be”. All the alumni agreed that you are offered great opportunities, and some you need to pursue and others you can choose to create. These experiences and openings are part of your journey to continue your development as a creative professional, since that process never really has a finite end. 

Harry told us that Pratt gave him an opportunity to learn his voice but didn’t feel there was enough technical direction. His advice to students is to amass as much technical experience as you can -- if you see it, learn it in school. What matters most when you graduate is your know-how, skills and experience. Dakota shared that Pratt is a utopia and you need to use the best of what you have now because the world outside doesn’t have the same outlook on creatives and creativity, using critiques as an example. In the real world people don’t care as much to provide you with this feedback, but at Pratt you are given this fantastic opportunity to participate in crits with large groups to get those responses to your work.

Talia suggested that you do things and meet people outside of your major, as you don’t have the same chance to do that outside of school when you are grouped together by skill set in your job. This is a way for you to build your network with a diverse group of people. A side benefit of this network is the ability to recommend other skilled creatives and be recommended in turn by those friends.

Hannah said that you need to reevaluate every year what you do: what are you doing; why are you doing it; what do you want to be doing? “Don’t be so stubborn” was her key phrase. She echoed Talia in advocating for being more open and social, especially after you graduate because the people you know are your peers and your network (which translates to “you need to keep in touch and keep engaged”).

Reviews from various #careerweek events will be forthcoming in the next few weeks! We went on Gotham Tours to awesome companies, got great advice from our awesome alumni and did all sorts of cool things for #careerweek -- hope you got a chance to join in the fun!

Written by: Emilie Buse
Image by: Dakota Sica


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