This Thursday evening from 6-9 pm (or however long you want to hang out and reminisce about the good old MAPH days), we’ll be holding a get together at Clark Street Ale House (742 N. Clark Street, 60610). You’ll recognize it by the neon “Stop and Drink” sign out front. The first round of beers is on MAPH’s dime. Significant others and friends are welcome to join! Shiny Christmas outfits are not required… though I’m sure no one would object if you are so inclined.
Kristen Wahl Hagan entered MAPH in the Fall of 2005 after having received Bachelor’s degrees in Clothing and Textile design (Virginia Tech University) and Art History (Indiana University). She came to MAPH intending to apply for PhD programs in Art History, but her experiences working in the art world also gave her a sense of the benefits of the MAPH degree on its own. As she put it, “Jobs in the art world are few and far between and they’re often very coveted, so even though you know that you don’t need a PhD or a Masters degree to do the job, having that gives you a competitive edge in the job market.”
Hagan’s plans began to change pretty quickly once she got to MAPH. She was surprised to find that the two professors of modern art history that she had most wanted to work with were on sabbatical. Though initially disappointed, Hagan came to view this set-back as an opportunity to make her MAPH experience truly interdisciplinary, embracing the chance to become involved with other departments. Hagan says that after taking a class at the Booth graduate school of business, she began to realize that she had more of a business mind and that becoming an academic was not for her.
Hagan’s thesis, advised by Booth Professor Tanya Menon, was the product of Hagan’s cross-disciplinary interests. By using the thesis project to explore how art museums make themselves accessible to people (or often fail to do so, as Hagan argues), she began a line of thought which is directly connected to her daily work life now. Speaking of her current position as Assistant Director at Gallery KH, Hagan says, “I deal directly with people a lot. In other museum or gallery settings, people are not always willing to speak to you. I’m very conscious of that in how I deal with people.”
When asked what advice she would give to current MAPH students interested in pursuing careers in the art world, Hagan had this to say: “Because I got pushed out of my comfort zone and was fortunate enough to have success with that, I would say to get outside of your comfort zone, so that you can come back to your discipline with a fresh perspective.” Hagan also suggested that taking advantage of internships and opportunities around Chicago is a great way to figure out early on what kind of work you enjoy.
For more information about Gallery KH, check out their website here.
Beth Gallagher is the Director of Community Involvement for AON Corporation, headquartered in Chicago. According to her bio, she is responsible for “managing the day-to-day operations of the AON Foundation giving programs, which include grants, sponsorships, business unit charitable contributions, disaster relief and employee matching gifts. In addition, Beth oversees employee volunteer programming at the firm.”
But–as Beth put it in a phone conversation–she “never would have guessed that a job like this existed,” when she first arrived in MAPH in 2001. At that point, she had one year of professional experience under her belt, and thought that she was on a path toward writing education. Though she took classes in pedagogy, Beth now says that it was her job as a docent at the Smart Museum and other coursework at the University that “broadened my thoughts about education.”
She began thinking about working in fundraising. But by the time the 2002 class graduated, the job market had collapsed. “It wasn’t as bad as this,” she said, talking about the context of her first attempts to find employment in comparison with the current economic conditions. After graduation she worked as an executive assistant at Youth Outreach Services before ultimately landing a gig there in development. She has been with AON Corporation since 2006.
Beth said she looks forward to speaking with MAPH students diverse opportunities in a corporate setting. She will be speaking at tonight’s Career Core event.
Anna Piepmeyer graduated from MAPH in 2007. She thought she had a pretty clear idea of what came after the Program. “Like most people, I had assumed it was a PhD and that I’d be an English professor,” she told me during a phone conversation. Anna spent the first half of the year thinking “I was going further on.”
Today, you’ll find Anna working as the Program Director for Open Books, a Chicago-based non-profit organization. She characterized the group as “a business-minded non-profit.” Open Books uses proceeds from its retail bookstore in conjunction with donations and a network of volunteers to provide literacy programming for Chicago school children.
In her current role, Anna oversees four different programs under the Open Books umbrella–all centered on the provision of one-on-one attention for students in various areas of reading and writing. In the “Adventures in Creative Writing” program, for example, students are encouraged to write from their own experiences. “We’re all about students exploring their own lives,” Piepmeyer said. Characterizing the scope of these experiences, she added that stories range in content from ” Six Flags to gang violence.” Programs take place on-site, and according to Anna, over 3,000 students have been to Open Books on field trips this year. The organization also sends volunteers to eleven area schools to give students the opportunity to work closely on their literacy skills.
Speaking of how to decide what to do after MAPH, Anna said, “There are a lot of other things you can do using your degree in interesting ways.” She highlighted that networking and starting early are keys to being successful in getting a job after graduation.
Anna encourages current MAPH students and alums to check out Open Books. The store has 50,000 used books, and proceeds go toward funding the organization. More information can be found at Open Books’ Website.
As many of you know, MAPH will graduate its FIFTEENTH class in June 2011!
We have more than 1,500 alumni, a huge number of which live, work, and in various ways pursue the species-being life right here in the Chicagoland area.
But regardless of geographic location, we want to hear what you’re up to–especially if you are interested in sharing stories with this year’s MAPHers and your fellow alumni. As Mentors this year, Amelia Pace-Borah and I will be conducting regular interviews with long lost alums (along with some usual suspects who we are fortunate enough to hear from more often) and post them here.
We hope that this will be a way of keeping in better touch, and giving you all an opportunity to reconnect with UChicago during this big year for MAPH.
A-J and Amelia