Why students choose careers in the arts
Art takes many forms and can be interpreted in many different ways, whether it be through painting or drawing, music, film, dance, theatre or other creative mediums. Students who aspire to pursue a career in the arts must channel their inner expressive capabilities to master their craft.
Claire Youngerman, a fourth-year cinema and digital media and economics double major, found her love for filmography by indulging in her everyday interests and giving herself room to explore wide-ranging topics that excited her.
“Sure, I like to binge-watch TV as much as the next lazy college student, but I started seeing film and television differently when I decided to study it,” Youngerman said. “I was excited by the possibility of film and its ability to transcend people into different realities and trick them into feeling real emotions for characters they know in their heart to be made up and acted out. I am excited by the possibility that film offers a way to interpret and explore life.”
According to Youngerman, her period of exploration gave way to the discovery of a very tangible career goal, one of which she is wholly passionate about.
“I would like to eventually become a producer,” Youngerman said. “There is so much talent and detail that goes into a production — writers, storyboard artists, costume designers, production designers, actors and every person that uses their skills to create something out of nothing […] It is more than entertainment, it’s kind of like magic.”
Youngerman was not always certain about pursuing a career in the arts. In fact, she originally enrolled at UC Davis as a physics major.
This experience is not one that is unique to Youngerman. Many students begin their collegiate careers as different majors, majors that one might say are on the more practical side of the spectrum, before eventually deciding to pursue a major in the artistic realm.
“I was an animal biology major my freshman year because I wanted to be a veterinarian, but I was a year into my studies, and [although] I was doing alright, I just wasn’t happy — I was doing it but it felt like I was just going through the motions,” said Daniela Ponce, a fourth-year theatre and dance major. “I did theater in high school, and at the time I thought ‘this is something I really love and enjoy, but it’s not going to be a career’ because [I] got discouraged to not pursue those wants. It took me a really long time to realize that I kept coming back to acting and theater and the arts.”
Although equally challenging and fulfilling as other career paths, careers in the arts are not as commonly pursued by college students as are other, more pragmatic professions. Vanessa Mendoza, a third-year design and music double-major, attributed this phenomenon to society’s tendency to gravitate toward one-dimensional standards of conventionality and normalcy.
“A lot of people have the notion that if you’re not a STEM major you’re not as intelligent,” Mendoza said. “I see people that have so much potential in other fields, and they don’t go towards [those fields] because they’re so fixated on these various stigmas. But there’s art everywhere, and you need all different majors for society to function. Everybody’s important, and you never know how you can contribute [to society].”
Tiffany Nwogu, a third-year theatre and dance major, argued that the arts are all-encompassing — they gives direction to nuanced ways of interpretation that require individuals to tap into more imaginative ways of thinking.
“A lot of the people who look at the arts have a very closed mind about, which is why [the arts] and theater are essentially forgotten,” Nwogu said. “But the thing that makes theater so precious is that people come there to escape logic and actually learn how to feel. Theater is not just limited to our closed-minded view, and it can catch you off guard. When you go to a performance, you expect to be entertained, but you’ll never [expect] to actually be educated in the process. The arts is more flexible because you think creatively about what could be. There are so many possibilities because there is freedom.”
Ponce advised any and all individuals who want to pursue the arts to dive into them with vulnerability and courage and to really allow themselves the opportunity to discover their craft, whether or not it may be deemed acceptable by others.
“If this is something that you truly want, something that you want to give your everything to, then do it,” Ponce said. “People have their own ideas of what’s an acceptable career path, and you’re going to find a lot of judgemental people that tell you you’re stupid for wasting your time. But you shouldn’t care about what other people think. It’s your life, and you have to live it however makes you feel happy.”
Written by: Emily Nguyen — firstname.lastname@example.org
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