Tag Archives: Employment

Writing Your Way to Internet Fame

Papa Hemingway Would have Been on Twitter. He would have. Damn you. Damn.

MAPH might not seem like the ideal time to get your freelance and internet writing career started. But trust me, it is. I thought that, in advance of next week’s GradUCon “Making Writing Work” festivities (and the general ongoing conversation about getting intellectual-ish work), I’d share a few thoughts about pitching successfully–and about writing pieces that you don’t have to feel badly about.

And I hope that some of our alum writers / current students will weigh in (?)

1) First of all: Writers write. Period. (READ ON…) Continue reading

So…what happens now?

Ahhh…the job market. Something many of us long to avoid. But no matter how hard we fight it, the real world is currently kicking and will continue to kick us in the ass until we’ve joined its ranks. For those of you who have already squared away jobs for the coming year(s)…Congratulations!! But, seriously, this post is not for you…so stop reading now.

For those of you who are still looking, haven’t even started looking, are hiding under your bed so you don’t have to look, or have left the country thinking a year of traveling always looks good on a resume…this post is for you.

First, it’s NOT you; it’s the market (unless you really are hiding under your bed doing absolutely nothing productive for your future). Job seekers are currently flooding the market with what employers are calling “casual applications.” Because there are so many easy ways to blanket your resume out to every position that looks appealing, employers are amassing way more applications than usual and it’s getting increasingly difficult to attract attention to your package (ahem).

So, this post is going to provide links to incredibly useful sites for job searching, but it’s not always enough to just apply to every position that seems appealing on these sites. Call the places a week or so after submitting your application and follow up to see if they’ve looked at it yet. See if you can stop by for an informational interview with someone so they recognize your name and begin to see that you are genuinely interested in the field. Send a thank-you note or e-mail after any interview, informational or otherwise.

In other words, find creative ways to shine your beautiful little recently-graduated MAPH selves in the face of every employer you want to work for!

And now, some incredibly wise words and tips from some fellow MAPH graduates who are currently holding jobs in their own apartments looking for jobs:

“I troll Chicago Career Connection (it’s through CAPS) like a fiend. It’s way good because you can specify your level of experience so I can get jobs that are Full Time Entry Level instead of ones that require years and years of experience.”


“As far as websites go, Indeed.com is great. You can specify the genre of job that you are looking for and sign up for their daily alert, and it will send you all the job postings in the geographical area you’ve specified that relate to that field. On average I’ve been getting around 4-6 a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.”


“My old boss also gave me a helpful tip: in your cover letter, say how your personal responsibilities benefited the company…basically, give the material values of your work. You can do this even if there are none—you can say things like, ‘my work resulted in a more efficient office workspace’ or something.”

Some useful sites on writing cover letters:  https://caps.uchicago.edu/resourcecenter/handouts/Cover%20Letters%20for%20Grad%20Students-2010%20rev.pdf


“I keep my resume as brief and neat as possible because employers only spend like 10 seconds scanning your resume, and if they can’t read it fast, they won’t read it at all. Using active, assertive verbs on your resume makes you sound confident and concise.”

Some useful sites on effective resume writing and formatting:  https://caps.uchicago.edu/resourcecenter/handouts/Resumes%20for%20Graduate%20Students-2010%20rev.pdf


More links to job-hunting websites that cater to more specialized fields:

Chicago Artists’ Resource—This website has a ton of great postings for jobs related to the arts (music, dance, theater, writing, food, etc.). In fact, just yesterday, they posted an opening for a Chicago Chocolate Tours Tourguide…which basically sounds like the most perfect job. Ever.


Media Bistro—This site caters to “media professionals” and has a bunch of posts for really creative writing, marketing, and artistic positions at various fun-looking companies (everything from local magazine and television offices to nation-wide retail companies and publishing firms). They also have a Freelance Marketplace, which is a phenomenal resource that allows you to post a freelance profile (for a small fee) that companies with assignments can then view and contact you through.


Administrative Jobs.com—This website is useful if you’re looking to jumpstart a career in business administration or, more likely, are looking for a placeholder entry-level job. You can make money doing something that exponentially increases your transferrable skills while you continue to look for jobs in the fields you really want to be in…hooray!


And, one final note…CAPS is open all summer long! The counselors are around for you to call and schedule meetings and are (I’m sure) eager to help with any job search-related questions. Also, Ben, A-J, and I (and, of course, Hilary and Maren) are around the office during the summer, so feel free to pick our brains about other useful sites and tips. Happy searching!!

What’s an Externship?

Spend a day here!

Good question!  An externship is a day-long opportunity for you to interact with a MAPH alum at their “Workplace.”  Many of the opportunities are being hosted by MAPH alumni.

  • Why should I do an externship? Externships are great ways to build up your network.  The MAPH alums who volunteered to host have interesting positions at some of the most prominent corporate and non-profit institutions in the city.  You’ll get to meet some of the folks that they work with, ask questions, and essentially get a glimpse of the day-to-day operations.
  • What do I do during the externship day? It’s really up to you and your host.  But make sure that you come prepared with questions and an understanding of the organization.  Do your homework beforehand.  This is an opportunity for you to learn about a specific company and its place in the context of a wider industry.
  • What about my thesis? You can work on your thesis when you get home.  The promise of having a good job after you finish MAPH will make it easier for you to work hard after the day is over.  That is, you’ll have a reason to FINISH the stupid thing.
  • Will it be fun? Yes!  It will.  And also, probably, interesting.  Most of all, it will be useful.  You will have the incentive to work on your resume, cover letter, and interview skills.  And you’ll have the chance to get into a corporate/non-profit environment for a day.  It’s a win, win, win.
  • Can I put an externship on my resume if I get one? Noooow you’re talkin.  You betcha.
  • How do I apply? Email me (ajaronstein@uchicago.edu) or Lesley Lundeen (llundeen@uchicago.edu) to get started on the process.  You’ll need a resume and cover letter, which you should be honing this time of year anyway.  Think of it this way: this is an opportunity to interview in-house for a “position” where you know that your “boss” will be excited to work with you for the day.

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

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: Continue reading

Not a Jobless Recovery for YOU

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

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

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.