Monday, December 04, 2017

Speaking at Career Day at White Bear Lake High School

Earlier today, I was asked to speak to a few students at a "career day" at White Bear Lake High School. There were maybe 50-70 other people there to speak about their careers (including Kare11 anchor Tim McNiff). I spoke mainly about being a professor (that's what most of them wanted to hear about), but also a bit about being a photographer.

I just realized that I made nearly this exact same photo two years ago.

I Instagrammed this photo thanking Julie for inviting me back to speak.

I might as well share a bit about what I told them here. After hitting on 8 points that the school wanted us all to talk about (like general work activities, helpful high school courses, skills and abilities, wages, etc), I ended with some of the points below...

My big takeaway for them at the end of my presentations was to that they either need to become THEE most educated in a very specific field, or (more likely) become well rounded and have lots of blanket knowledge in their field. I shared this example: "You could have your Masters and Doctorate on 15th century ceramics from the Ming Dynasty, but it might help to have a general 'Art History' minor or even 'Chinese history' minor. Don’t be TOO specific. Specificity might get you 1 perfect class every few semesters, but being well rounded will get you other classes where you can actually make a living." I told them how nearly half of the 70+ classes I've taught were actually Color Theory or 2D Design classes. I shared a story about a friend who wanted to teach ONLY film photography classes (so that's all she learned), and now she's taught maybe 3 courses in the same time that I've taught 70. There's a lesson in there.

On the photography side, I said I was by NO MEANS a great photographer, but I had tips to share. I stressed the idea of "making your own luck." I wasn't able to share this story today, but in grad school, I was the first to hang my MFA exhibition once the gallery had been prepped. It just so happened that the head of the Photography Dept at the University of Minnesota walked through the gallery just after I hung my work. He recognized my name as I had just recently applied to their "adjunct pool," and he enjoyed seeing my work in person. He told me a few years later that seeing my work up helped get me that job (and I ended up lecturing there for 6 years straight).

Related to that, I shared a story of winning the Golden Light Award and the "Social Document" category over 10 years ago. A senior photo editor from the New York Times Magazine was the juror for that, and because she saw my work, she called me a few months later asking if I could shoot a cover story for them. Umm, YES. And since then, I've completed 4 more projects for them. Had I not kept entering contests and submitting to galleries, I wouldn't have had my work in front of that photo editor, and I never would have done these 5 projects for the Times.

I CAN picture my life without having done those projects for the Times, but I CANNOT picture my life without the 6 years I taught at the University of Minnesota. Those courses really helped set the groundwork for my teacher career.



Totally, on the well rounded front. Film looked so strong and dominate and why wouldn't you want to specialize in film? Then digital came along and film has been relegated to specialist niche.

And how did I not know you actually had a photoblog??? (Off to get more coffee and browse, newish to photography and happy to learn.)

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