Art Happenings - Graduation kicks off fresh beginnings for seniors

Mon, 01 May 2017

Publication Date

By Sharon Cox,  Associate Professor of Art, Special to The Collegian

Ah…the freedom from studying, from getting to classes on time and from dorm rooms and cafeteria food. Ah, the responsibility now of getting a job, washing all your own clothes, of auto insurance, of apartment rental, of making new friends and the responsibility of managing meals, rent, work, distance to the job site and what? No one to help you get caught up with your assignments? Sheesh!! Now what?

The nightmare of adult responsibilities hits hard for some graduates. The dream job and feelings of endless nights asleep (or days) and meeting up with your buddies and going out, and no responsibilities, or better yet, living at home where mom and dad take care of everything…well, that is a dream. Whether dream or nightmare, graduation is both terrifying and elating.   

Responsibility comes with becoming an adult and finishing the job you’ve been working on for the last four years: studying, learning and understanding: the basic student thing.  Now is the time to take account of your adult life and step forward into the realm of handling all your own things. Scary as it is, it’s the thing to do and it gives a freedom no parental oversight can match.

If you’ve had all your courses and the credits are as they should be, then you are ready for another earth-shattering moment: the job market that leads to a career.

Two things I tell my students will help:

Number 1: Do for a living whatever awakens you before the alarm goes off on any given Saturday morning;

And number two: Make sure you are your most marketable self. (In other words make certain you have job options that allow for a career change, mid-stream).

Art students are usually at an advantage because they have more than a fine arts major and thus can slide between at least two or more areas for their career.

Students who are in business, education, medical fields and communications must understand marketing, All have to have computer science in their curriculum and art courses enhance  and add to imagery necessary for advertising or marketing one’s self.  IT is pretty much a given where communication is concerned and the visual image is an important component. Learning how to move between connected areas is vital for a lifetime of upward movement.

The university has had some fantastic examples of students majoring in one area and winding up in a connected  career field, but not in their original major. My students have heard me tell this story and it’s worth repeating.

A math major transferred from Yale to here in the early 1990s. He wound up majoring in math and visual arts.  When he left one of the northeastern Ivy League grad schools (with a major in math and computer science) he was hired by one of the largest banking companies in the world. He said the first question more than 70 of the head-hunters who interviewed him asked, was “what’s with this art major from Jamestown College?” They all expected a math PhD to have the credentials needed for banking, but they wanted something different: someone who thinks outside the box.

He made more than a $Million his first year. He was not planning to work in banking. He expected to be in education.

So as graduation arrives and the decision is still a question mark in your mind, consider this example. Yes, UJ grads do well, very well. Be ready to accept a new venture even if it’s not on your radar. Always be open to learning something new. Career fields are not set in stone and as dynamic as they are, be ready to launch your vision into a new area. If grad school is next, add some creative courses just because the world needs creative thinkers. You will learn new tools for the future. Be humble, be hopeful, be trusting and be hard-working.

UJ and its faculty, administrators  and staff will help wherever we can. Keep us in the loop as we will do for you. Good luck, God bless and keep going forward.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, Campus box 6003 or PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.