This week continued the core of my project work with Americans for the Arts, undertaking more phone interviews with stakeholders throughout the week. It also included a fun networking event at a nearby pub with many of the staff and a few friends from other organizations in DC.
However, it was a truncated week, with Independence Day falling on Friday this year and creating a nice long weekend for everybody. I skipped seeing the fireworks on the National Mall, and the inevitable 2 hour trek home afterwards on public transport. Instead, I celebrated the day at a friend’s place, eating all sorts of American food and drink. There is something highly symbolic of American freedom about having Kosher hotdogs wrapped in bacon.
This week also marked the halfway point of the internship. The six weeks in DC have really flown by, and I expect that the next six will go by just as quickly. There’s still so much that I’ve yet to see in this part of the world, so I’ll have to get organized.
It also marks the halfway point of the MA/MBA. There’s now less than a year to graduation, and less than a year until we all go back into the real world. And that means getting a job.
This first year has given me a great deal of time to consider the kind of work that I want to do post-degree. I commenced the program with the idea of going into the administrative side of opera, eventually moving up to a leading role for a major company. I’d still like to do that some day, but what I realized early on was that I could have a greater impact by putting my skills in analytics and strategy to use – companies everywhere need people who can turn numbers into sound arguments.
As a result, consulting became the more logical path for me. I love the idea of fresh challenges and projects to work with, and in gaining new perspectives from different organizations. I also don’t mind working hard to see something through to completion. Added to that is that I’m location agnostic, happy to be based anywhere in the world, and don’t mind travelling regularly.
The biggest conundrum facing me is the choice of whether to keep on the arts administration path and pursue non-profit consulting, or transition into the for-profit sector. Both options have their merits, and there’s value in applying the knowledge from arts administration in the for profit world (e.g. managing multiple stakeholders, complex operations, and marketing and customer relationship management challenges). But the arts world also needs people who understand how to make use of data to build stronger organizations, especially as their competition (i.e. for-profit entertainment, sports and gaming) race ahead in this respect.
Either way, the job hunt will not be easy. It’s a very competitive market out there, with recovery still moving slowly after the global financial crisis. The arts sector is also facing continued challenges to funding and to business models, and expenditures are being reined in as a result. Ironically this means that at a time where a fresh strategic outlook could make the most impact, there’s not the financial will to invest in it.
So even a year out, I’m getting my own job hunt strategy in order. It’s a case of using the networks that I have to seek out opportunities, and to make myself valuable to people. I’m also keeping my eyes peeled for opportunities that may come up, staying up to date with the sector and the hiring cycles.
I have to admit, I’m nervous at this stage. There’s a lot of things that work against me, from the complexity of gaining work visas, to the paucity of opportunities in Australia for someone of my qualifications, and the logistics of applying for jobs from opposite ends of the earth (there are going to be a few late night Skype interviews in my future). That’s why I’m ramping up the job hunt now. I have no interest in reaching the end of my degrees and finding myself jobless.
Observations on music, coffee, and the occasional controversial thought.
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