Bleak economy doesn’t stymie graduating art students’ aspirations


Finding a job right out of college is not the sure thing it used to be as budget cuts and layoffs plague all divisions of labor. Some arts and media majors have planned ahead and prepared themselves with jobs and internships after graduation to help them get their foot in the door, though even work experience won’t necessarily guarantee a job.

“I got an internship with Sony pictures as a post [production assistant], so I’m going to be doing that over the summer,” said Oscar Castro, a film and video production major. “I might be actually working on the new film ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ as a post P.A., as well.”

“This summer I got a job taking stills in New Mexico for a horror film, so I’m excited about that,” said photography major Desiree Asher. But her post-graduation plans in the face of a stagnant economy are still shaky.

“I’m very worried, very nervous,” said Asher.

But making the big step from the classroom to the studio may not be as easy as some would believe. In 2008 California ranked 49 in the national unemployment rate according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the past nine years careers in arts and entertainment have felt the effects of the fumbling economy as well. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor show the unemployment rate in nonagricultural private-wage and salary workers in arts, entertainment and recreation has more than doubled from 4.6 percent in April 2000 to 10.2 percent in April 2009.

These statistics spark nerves and anxiety in many future graduates. Art and media majors are aware of the potential barriers they will face in the job market.

“It’s fierce. It’s very fierce because it’s all about who you know,” said Chris Warren, a music industry studies major. “You can apply to any job you want, but if there are people who are applying for the same job that have even better connections than you do, they’re more likely to get the job. I’m just hoping to have an impressive résumé and a good enough interview along with having those other personal contacts.”

“I’m afraid the companies right now aren’t really hiring so I’m going to try freelancing first until the economy balances out a little more, then try to go for big corporations,” said graphic design major Yvette Arenas.

But as in the business world, getting into a career in arts and media is stiff with competition from both fresh hopeful graduates and seasoned veterans of the field.

“There’s tons, it’s just like every other actor and production people working to get into it. It’s just really competitive, but I’m the type of person that will go after it no matter what,” said theater major Sher Vasquez. “I plan on freelancing for film for makeup.”

“I know it’s bad now but I’m sure it’s going to pick up later in the year,” Brian Piehl, screenwriting major.

Albert Malafronte, another screenwriting major, said, “I’m going to look for a full-time job, like a literary agent or just a job as a P.A. somewhere.”
“I’m afraid the companies right now aren’t really hiring so I’m going to try freelancing first until the economy balances out a little more, then try to go for big corporations,” said Arenas.

Vocal performance major Sean McCormack plans on moving back to San Diego to study privately after graduation.
“San Diego does not have a very big arts community or as big as say L.A.,” he said. “Trying to find a lucrative job as anything in music in San Diego will be difficult.”

“Pretty much having my own design studio,” said Arenas. “That’s my biggest goal, having people work for me.”

“I plan on producing and arranging a lot of live performances and helping people with their visuals; being a visual director, creative director for a theatre company, music groups or record labels,” said theatre major Ryan Qualls.

“Ultimately I want to be a still photographer but in the meantime I’m going to find studio internships and gain experience that way first,” said Asher.
Most students suggest that, despite less-than-ideal economic conditions, they will simply keep doing what they love.

“Just working as an intern isn’t going to make me a lot of money but I’m just going for my passion,” said Castro.