You want me to WHAT?: MAPH, schmoozing, and you.

January 18th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

It’s really not this bad….most of the time

I know.  You came here to do academic work.  To share your brilliant insights on pederasty in Victorian Fiction as related to Ancient Chinese Vase-Making.  Or whatever.  So why are we so adamant about networking and career stuff….and why are the mentors especially hounding us, when they don’t have real jobs in the first place?

These are valid questions.  Valid, hurtful, confusing questions.

But they have answers.

No matter whether you are applying for PhD programs, trying to get a full-time job, or merely recognize that you would like some kind of job in the services industry that doesn’t require you to spend 100 hours on your feet per day steaming milk after graduation to pay rent, networking is an important skill to have.

Here are some important things to remember as you start going about the job-search in a more serious way that involves meeting and talking to strangers: » Read the rest of this entry «

Not a Jobless Recovery for YOU

January 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

If you start planning now, you won’t feel like this every morning on your commute.

New Year’s Resolutions abound at the start of Winter Quarter.  Harness your cliche instinct to be proactive in 2011, and start thinking more seriously about what comes after MAPH.  You will, one day, be done with MAPH after all.  Keep in mind that throughout all of this, you have resources at your disposal.  Don’t despair, and most importantly of all, don’t let your thesis and classes consume your entire life.  That is, distract yourself by thinking of all the cool opportunities out there for newly-minted MASTERS.  YOU WILL BE A MASTER.  If you haven’t yet checked out the CAPS site, it’s not too late to start exploring.

Across the next few weeks, while your primary task is to get into a rhythm with your Winter Classes, you should also be working on your meta-plans.  After all, many of you who arrived at UChicago thinking “PHD FOR ME!” may have already realized that academic inquiry is a black hole that will suck your soul out through your tear ducts with a swirly straw.  But even if you are not one of these people, thinking about a job after MAPH is a great exercise that will help improve your understanding of “what’s out there.”

MAPHCentral and CAPS continuously toil together to make sure that you have as many chances as possible to get in front of alumni, work on your resumes and cover letters, and feel confident about heading out into the (recovering!) job market.  Here are a few of the things to look forward to:

  • Career Core #2: GradUCon- The second event in the MAPH CAREER CORE series takes place on Friday, January 21 at Ida Noyes.  SIGN UP IN THE MAPH OFFICE.  If you sign up with us, we will register for you AND pay the registration fee.  The fee is otherwise $5.  We are paying your way because GradUCon is a great opportunity not only to develop your networking and job search skills, but also a chance to talk to alumni.  There will not only a full day of Career Panels and hand shaking, but also a much-swankier-than-you’re-probably-accustomed-to reception at the end of the day.
  • How to Network Brown-Bag Lunch: Nervous about greasing palms and talking about yourself?  Learn how not to be!  Lesley Lundeen will be holding a Lunch Talk (lunch not included) on Thursday January 20 on how to Network without sounding like a total tool.
  • Externships and Internships: Across the next few weeks, you will be receiving information about MAPH-Sponsored Internships, and MAPH Alum Externships.  Pay attention to these opportunities.  There will be a ton of organizations eager to work with MAPH students across Spring Quarter and this summer.  You will have a much better shot at getting these Internships and Externships if you stay abreast of career announcements, start reading the AfterMAPH blog profiles of MAPH alums, and visit CAPS regularly.

If you ever have questions, come visit us or email!  Everyone at MAPHCentral is on your side when it comes to finding something rewarding after this year!

An Interview With Our Own Kealey – Writer for PAGODA RED

April 14th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Kealey is studying East Asian Art History, with a focus on Chinese Painting. Her MA thesis addresses methods and authenticity of Ni Zan’s brushwork in his later works. Upon graduating she will study at Tsinghua University in Beijing in a two-month intensive language program.

Please describe what you were doing before you enrolled in MAPH?

I am a more ‘seasoned’ student in MAPH, graduating college in 2001. I attended the University of Chicago, concentrating in Economics.  Around the end of my second year, I realized I loved my Chinese Art History classes, performed well in them, and had great relationships with my professors.  However, I was acquiring a tremendous amount of debt while in school and thought the most rational idea was to continue forward with a career in finance, which I also enjoyed, just not as much. After about eight years on Wall Street, I enjoyed my job less and less and realized my role would not dramatically change in the future.  By this time I had paid off my debt and saved the money to return to school.   After submitting my application to Chicago, I was laid off in the fourth round of cuts at my job. Although it gave me that last push off the cliff I needed, two weeks after the program started in September 2009 I was asked if I wanted to return to my old seat.   I confidently turned down the offer.   Talking with so many interesting people, their research, and the endless resources of the University, I had been bit and could not turn back.

Why Chicago? Why MAPH?

I needed to be retrained on how to research and write like an art historian at a graduate level. I also had several gaps in my resume that need filling, such as language. Finally, I needed to see if I would sink or swim, and if a Phd was in my future.  I knew from my undergraduate work that Chicago is a fantastic institution, with the best professors & resources.  It would challenge me like no other place.

What opportunities, expected or unexpected, have presented themselves this year?

The Humanities definitely proved to be a more difficult discipline than finance when navigating the job market.  There is no recruiting season, personalities vary dramatically, and job descriptions can be vague sometimes.  It was a real challenge to figure out what people were looking for and if I was seeing every possible opportunity. However, during Fall quarter finals week I received a mass email from the MAPH email distribution about a writing position for a Chicago-based Asian art dealer. I sent in the usual materials, letter, resume, and writing sample. About a month later I was called in for an interview. A couple days later I was asked to do a ‘test’ writing piece based on a topic the gallery selected. I was hired shortly after that, and now I write 1-3 articles a month based on their collection. The articles are posted on their website and blog. I would never imagine in my life that someone would pay me to write, especially write about what I want to write about!  Additionally, I can do all the work remotely on campus. No commute!

What are some of the topics you have written about in this position?

Demystifying the swastika, Chinese New Years folk art, painting traditions, and recently I wrote a piece about Chinese Erotica. I am currently working on Blue and White ceramics with Middle Eastern influences.

What are the positives and negatives of writing for a company?

I had become comfortable with the academic format of writing.  When receiving a topic from a course there is a certain amount of freedom of topics under the broader assignment. There usually is a ton of time to think about the topic, research, write and rewrite. With a company, I usually have about 48 hours to research and write an article. The article is a representation of the company, so when posted online it is not attributed to me. Many times I will address the topic and once the gallery sees the result they will realize what they told me to write was not exactly what they wanted, in which case I will have to edit or toss the work done and start over. Also the company has editing freedom, so often there are unexpected changes in the final version.  Like most employers, they want what they want when they want it, no extensions, no excuses, and a little mind reading is definitely helpful. However, something I love is I can continue the work when I study at Tsinghua University this summer, and when I return and continue my job search.   Also, something that isn’t often addressed in academia is interacting with art that falls into the art market between dealers and collectors. I think its great to see the work that is not necessarily deemed important by a museum. The pieces I work with and write about are part of a long Chinese tradition of collecting. Sometimes these objects and their dealers create markets where there were none.  I guess that appeals to the art historian and economist in me.

What skills and experiences will you take away from this year?

Working in the Humanities takes a lot of personal risk and a lot of confidence in your abilities and your ability to sell those skills. I also saw that I really got out of the program as much as I put in. I went to every workshop that would have me, every informational interview that would make the time, audited any class that would allow it, and persistently addressed and readdressed challenges, feedback and shortcomings in my work.  I found professors, advisors, and students really responded to that diligence.  MAPH gave me the tools and platform to take away what I wanted from the year.

Working during MAPH

July 28th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

As you finish packing your belongings to bring to Chicago (or start unpacking them, if you’re already arrived) and start digging into your summer reading and perusing the Time Schedules to choose next quarter’s classes, finding a job may be the last thing on your mind. It may, though, be on the forefront of your mind, so here’s a quick summary of useful resources.

Before I begin, a note: Some MAPHers work during MAPH, some don’t. Both are totally reasonable choices. What’s not a totally reasonable choice is entering the program believing that the 19.5 hrs/week the University allows you to work as a graduate student is a reasonable amount to work during MAPH.

If you are able to find a job where you can sit and read or catch up on other work, 10-12 hours per week might be reasonable, but that’s the most we advise you to work while enrolled in the program full-time. 5-10 hours a week (or even less!) might make more sense.

Warnings out of the way, here are some mentor-endorsed websites to use during your pre-MAPH job search:

Student Employment: The University of Chicago’s official student employment site has broad listings for both work-study and non-work-study applicants. These can range from lifeguarding at the pool to working as a research assistant in any department. There aren’t a ton of listings this early in the year, but they will increase dramatically as more students (and professors) return to campus. This should be the first stop in your job search, but remember to also check it regularly as your search continues, because listings do get updated and added.

Library Jobs: If you’re at all interested in working in the library (and the jobs available range widely, including shelving, circulation, and various office positions), fill out an application. The main page almost always says that there are no positions currently available, but they keep applications on file and contact people from that pool when they’re hiring. I was hired by the library a week after filling out an application, at a time when the page said there were no positions available. They often hire earlier than other on-campus jobs, especially if you’re interested in shelving, so this may be a good bet for those of you who are in Chicago already.

UChicago Marketplace: Like a specialized University of Chicago version of Craigslist, the Marketplace can be a great way to find regular jobs or one-time gigs, from dog-walking to Chinese translation, whatever your specialty. If you don’t want a regular part-time job, you can easily supplement your income doing things like helping people move and participating in research studies.

If none of these sites do the trick for you, craigslist, idealist.org, and other non-University sites may be helpful. However, I’ll be surprised if you have to resort to that.