On September 19th, I abandoned my sleep-in day and headed to North Hall for the Alumni Roundtables event. The white rooms that normally hold my classes overflowed with people and conversations. Desks formed giant circles, to accommodate all the alumni and current students while visual and written work decorated the walls.
Each door was labeled with a combination of majors and it seemed as if every major was covered. I carefully read through each tag until I found Writing and snuck in. The Writing alumni outnumbered the one graduate from Pratt’s School of Library and Information Science (recently renamed School of Information) and the conversation was guided by a current Pratt Professor.
Two other students and I listened as the alumni and Pratt professor talked about their experience, bouncing ideas and thoughts off each.When we were alerted 30 minutes had passed, everyone was surprised. After getting contact information from an alumna, I took this time to sneak out and listened in on other conversations.
Like most art school students, I worry about my prospective job opportunities but going to this event lessened those concerns. During one conversation, I realized how vast of a resource Pratt is. The amazing reality at Pratt is none of the students are pigeonholed by their major. Writing students can go to painting classes, film students can minor in creative writing, and architecture students can study interior design. While these interdisciplinary interests depend on a student’s curiosity, having this opportunity is an advantage alumni encouraged us to take. A few even suggested students consider working or freelancing during school. Although balancing school and work is difficult, alumni who did entered their careers with experience and had an audience already familiar with their work.
At Pratt, students have the luxury to form a community of artists who share the same interests. As a fact of life, no one ever knows where people end up. Many alumni said at one point they received a job because of a fellow Pratt graduate, or they themselves helped give a Pratt graduate a job; some even found their current job through their professors. At college students are forming a professional network through their classes, their jobs, and their friendships and many don’t realize it.
Of course, the conversations were littered with specific counsel for certain majors. An architecture alumni relayed his experience of following his professor's advice to document how many hours it took him to do a project. When he entered the workforce, he was able to give his clients an idea of how long their project would take and adjust the project accordingly. For photography, alumni advised students to show companies their personal portfolio. One alumni emphasized being surprised that a major company used his work even though he believed it didn’t fit the company’s wants.
I was happy to see so many Pratt students at the Alumni Roundtables. I love events like these because it gives students an idea of what they are heading into after graduation instead of having a nebulous idea formed from their classes. I know I walked away with a clearer idea of what I wanted and some helpful advice to try.
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Written by: Bree Balsamo
Images by: Bree Balsamo