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Arts & Museums Fellow: Civry Melvin

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My time at Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) has been unspeakably wonderful. The BCA is an organization that was founded in the South End in the 70s, and is housed in the glorious Cyclorama building, which has been around since the late 19th century. The building itself is absolutely stunning, with remnants of its original redbrick castle-like structure, art deco chandeliers that were added when the building was used as a flower market in the 20s, and magnificent skylights that flood the dome-like interior with natural light. The BCA uses the space as one of its main sources of income, renting it out for cultural events such as food and wine tastings and galas. In addition, the BCA also owns an entire block of Tremont Street, which includes numerous theaters, a gallery space called “The Mills,” and an entire building for artist studios. 

In my time interning at the BCA, I have been immersed in all aspects of the organization, helping out with everything from conducting donor research for the development team, to serving as a docent at the Mills Gallery, to creating a detailed report analyzing teen art programs in the Boston-area and proposing ideas for how the BCA can implement its own program. I have had the opportunity to sit in on meetings concerning the BCA’s future as an organization, and from this I have learned how to evaluate programmatic goals and impacts for nonprofits. I have also gotten to help out with and attend numerous events, such as artist and curator talks, workshops, school field trips to the gallery, and events for Boston-area young professionals and college students. The BCA has also hired me as a freelance photographer to document events and create marketing materials. Overall, from this experience I have gained a better understanding of how to manage a nonprofit organization, which I hope to use in my future career!

Civry Melvin ‘14
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
Boston Center for the Arts (BCA)

Learn more about the Arts & Museums Fellows Program:

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Arts & Museums Fellow: Brenna McDuffie

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Photo Credit: Jimmy Ryan

Brenna McDuffie ‘15
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
American Repertory Theater

“Hold on tightly, let go lightly.” These words, uttered by director Diane Paulus, served as a guiding mantra during the four-week rehearsal period of Witness Uganda, a new musical directed by Paulus that premiered at the American Repertory Theater in February. Paulus’ words demonstrate a softer phrasing of another common creative advisory: “You must kill your darlings.” But both maxims articulate the single, most important truism of new play development: The process requires a fine balance between making confident choices and remaining open to cooperative, and often drastic, change.

The pre-tech rehearsals of Witness Uganda at the New 42nd Street Studios in Time Square brought the project’s creative forces and performers together to engage with and develop the material for the first time. At the end of December, nine Harvard College students, including me, joined the ranks of the Witness team, each of us assigned to a creative or managerial department, including directing, producing, marketing, stage management, music, playwrighting and choreography. My work on Witness Uganda was made possible through the OCS Arts & Museum Fellows Program.

“Developing new musicals comes with countless unpredictable challenges,” Shira Milikowsky, A.R.T. associate director reflected more recently. “Unpredictable” is the key word here. For the four weeks of rehearsals in New York, I was the designated playwright intern, which allowed me to engage closely with the ever-changing script and with writer/lead actor Griffin Matthews. I quickly learned that in the development of a new work, the playwright’s job extends through rehearsals and previews, right up until the opening night.

During the period in which the script remains “unfrozen” and malleable, the playwright is in constant communication with the directing and dramaturgy teams, whose notes and script analyses contribute to daily changes in the musical’s book. Six days a week, all hours of the day, Matthews, the stage management team and I were making line changes, cuts and printing new pages to be distributed to the cast. Often, the following day would bring even newer versions of the same pages and would end with the reinsertion of a line that had been cut the day before. New script development felt like a fast-paced dance whose choreography was always subject to change, even before you had a chance to memorize the original steps. Each day, you remind yourself of the mantra. “Let go lightly, let go lightly.”

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Katrina Deutsch, Peace Corps recruiter for the Metro Boston area with professional experience in international education and international volunteer management and support, sat down to answer five key questions about working in international development. This post originally appeared in the Harvard Student / Alumni Advice Forum on LinkedIn

Q: What advice do you have for Harvard seniors looking to break into your field? 

If you want to get a job in international development overseas, consider finding fellowships or other programs to start. Programs such as the Peace Corps, WorldTeach, Fulbright, or university sponsored fellowships offer an opportunity to gain grassroots international experience without having years of professional experience. Another way to get started is being willing to move overseas for an internship or unpaid volunteer-work position with an organization in order to gain experience for your resume to get a good paying job overseas. In addition, organizations such as USAID and the UN have junior officer positions for those with less work experience, and applications are usually open annually.

Q: How has your concentration come into play (…or not come into play) in your work? 

My concentration from my undergraduate career no longer plays a role in my work. I majored in English and communication studies in college, hoping to go into a career in publishing, and am now a recruiter for the Peace Corps. My experiences overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer (something I did right after college) led me to pursue a master’s degree in international education policy, which is what my career has focused on. It is important to have a college degree, but it is definitely not a defining factor in a career once you have a couple of years work experience. I always use my brother as an example: he has a degree in sports management, but has worked in advertising and now data analytics, and is pursuing his MBA. 

Q: How do students find out about jobs/internships in your field? 

The Office of Career Services is a great place to start. There are also many listservs that send weekly job openings, including BNID (the Boston Network for International Development), Devex, DevNetJobs, the Foreign Policy Association, and even LinkedIn! The more specialized and up to date your LinkedIn profile is, the more relevant the job openings they email you will be. 

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“Bridges come in all forms and sizes. They are a reminder of how powerful simple tools are,” said Jack Dorsey, CEO of mobile payments service Square Inc., in Farkas Hall last week. “Bridges have one job: to stay up. They make easier the lives of their users as they get from point A to B.”

What’s fundamental to both bridges and Square is the drive to connect people. Dorsey’s vision is to create a tool that is simple and effective – one that saves time so that users can focus on what matters most to them. There’s always a burden associated with money, and Square wants to alleviate it. In fact, they have a 5,000-year mission to “make commerce easy.”

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Square ensures their company culture reflects their larger outward vision. “We’re not just a service that people know and love, but a company that people enjoy working for,” Dorsey said. To elaborate, he virtually introduced his Farkas Hall audience to the company’s 1,000 square ft. San Francisco office by way of a motorized robot teleconference.

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OCS recently hosted three experts in humor. Bill Braudis (a TV animation writer), Kelly Dooley (an improv actor), and Caitlin Durante (a stand-up comedian), offered the following tips for a career in comedy: 

1. Have a wide variety of sample jokes. You never know when someone might need extra jokes, and that could be your big break.
Have two or three scripts ready, and maybe fifty jokes. 

2. If you want feedback on your work, don’t ask the people who could help you with your job search later.
Why? Don’t burn any bridges with contacts by showing them something that isn’t ready. Get some allies whose opinions you trust, but who are not necessarily in the business.

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We might be accustomed to buying goods at stores like Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s, but how many of us have thought about the decisions and logistics behind their inventory? OCS recently hosted a panel of retail professionals, showcasing the fascinating world of consumer goods operations!

The path to retail

Buyers and planners stock merchandise for retail companies. For Lauren Picasso, MBA candidate at HBS and former employee at Rent the Runway and Bloomingdale’s, an interest in retail was sparked by a conversation with a friend. “I was a neuroscience major in college. After doing my research at NYU, I thought that I’d try something new. I was talking to one of the girls in my sorority one day and she mentioned that she was a buyer for Ralph Lauren and that immediately sparked my interest,” said Lauren. From that conversation, she was able to get an internship at Ralph Lauren, and eventually ended up joining the buying program at Bloomingdale’s. For Davina Pike, planning manager at J.Crew, her first love was finance. But after working at a bank for a number of years, she decided that she wanted to work somewhere where she could better identify with the brand.

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The 8th Annual AMBLE/OCS Spring Career Conference, held on February 22, 2014, showcased media and entertainment, fashion, and marketing panelists—as well as pathways into the field. 

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Media & Entertainment

The panel consisted of professionals with years of experience at Forbes, ESPN, CNN, ABC News, and the New York Times.

Getting ready to find and begin a new job? Jennifer Jenkins, Harvard College alum currently working as the director of operations at ESPN’s Remote Operations department, told students to do what they do well, work hard, and be ready to spend nights sleeping under desks.

Most of the panelists did not have a clear view of their career goals while they were college students. Susie Banikarim, a network television and video producer, told students not to expect that what they do after graduation will determine their future in ten or twenty years. Pulitzer Prize winning author Diane McWhorter believes that everyone will hit a turning point in his or her life, and at that point, “things will come clearer because you will start seeing the past as the past and not as the sum of everything you are.”

Q: How do we address the new trend in journalism and media—in which websites drive television?

Web presence has become the most important thing, and the fight to be first rather than right has only intensified. Addressing the concerns for those who think they may be interested in journalism, Ms. McWhorter and Ms. Banikarim provided invaluable advice. “Have the courage to stick to your principles. Do not compromise on integrity; there is a reason why you are not politicians,” stated Ms. McWhorter while expressing concern that aspiring journalists may receive bad training on simply making themselves shine through. Ms. Banikarim encouraged aspiring journalists to not sacrifice the fun part of journalism by just sitting at their desks.

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OCS student blogger Julia Eger attended Design Across the Spectrum (featuring Chris Grison, owner and landscape designer, Dianthus Garden Services; Katiti Kironde, fashion designer, Katiti; Paul Sabin, principal, Fikst Product Development; Jennifer Sarich-Harvey, senior interaction designer, IDEO; and Felice Silverman, principal, Silverman Trykowski Associates) and distilled these seven essential tips for the design field.

1. Get your foot in the door.

The market right now is really hot; interns and young designers are sought after. You might not have as much experience just yet, but get into the industry in whatever way you can. In some firms, the majority of the employees are hired through a consultancy or an internship. 

2. Start out small.

Starting out at a small firm will likely allow you to do something more productive earlier in your career. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try out a bunch of projects first to figure out what you like the best.

3. You probably have a lot more skills than you think.     

If you have some design skills or software skills, you’re quite marketable in the design world. Don’t sell yourself short! 

4. Take your smarts to your work.

If you have passion, you can’t go with “I don’t do Windows” or “I don’t do that.” You can do it all, and you can probably do it better than it’s being done right now. All design is driven by principles and elements. You need to learn and understand them if you’re going to be successful.

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They say opportunity happens when you’re in the right place at the right time; this couldn’t be more true for Rachel Silverman, Harvard alum, Wall Street Journal reporter, and current fellow at the Nieman Foundation.

An unexpected pathway

Like many students, Rachel had a dream of one day going to med school, so she studied history of science as an undergraduate. Her big break with journalism came by accident, when she took up a part time job as a research assistant. “I did research on obscure letters for a couple who did not have access to the Harvard College library system. In those days, we didn’t have Google, so I did not know who the couple was. After finishing my research, which I enjoyed, I got a phone call from my boss telling me that he was an editor at the Wall Street Journal, and he was inviting me to do a summer internship at the WSJ offices in New York City,” recalled Rachel. Nonetheless, because she was focused on going to med school, Rachel declined the offer and opted to travel to Latin America on a scholarship. After a year in Latin America, Rachel found herself unsure about what to do in life; when her previous boss called again and offered her a different project—this time—she accepted the offer, and 16 years later, she’s still at the publication.

“My first project was to do research on the past 1,000 years of business errors. I had to start at the bottom and slowly make my way to the top. I started with writing the fluffy stories on cats and that type of thing,” said Rachel, recalling her first assignments as a business reporter.

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Writing is an essential skill. It’s something that you learn at an early age, and, to some degree, something that plays into any job. So if you want to work in a career that focuses on writing, you face a double-edged sword: there are a lot of options out there for you, but it can be hard to choose. 

At OCS last week, panelists came together to discuss their various careers that incorporated their writing skills – from social media to reporting to public relations. 

“My career path was almost a process of self-discovery,” said David Tannenwald, case study author for the Kennedy School while also doing outside reporting. “I used to be terrified of writing, and career choices were driven more by an interest in sports than an interest in writing. I asked myself: what do I enjoy doing even if I wasn’t forced to do it?”

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Over 11% of Harvard students go into education directly after graduation. That’s a big percentage. But with so many different pathways to get to the classroom, how do they all get there?

For the first time at OCS this past Thursday, a panel of teachers came together to discuss how they began their teaching career. 

There’s no “one path”

Some teachers don’t expect to go into education at all, but just find themselves drawn in by a cause. 

"I did not intend to go into education when I went to school," said Molly Bryson, who now works for Teach For America. “What really started me on this path was this two-year social justice program I did, where I spent two years having amazing conversations about these critical problems in our country. That was my entry point — realizing that education was something I really cared about. And the achievement gap really felt like a crisis that I wanted to do something about.”

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Student Blogger Snapshot: Big Data, Technology, and Engineering Top Ten

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Always dreamed of working at Snapchat or Google? Now’s your chance! Many of your favorite tech companies will be at the SOCH (59 Shepard Street) this Friday from 3-5pm for the Big Data, Technology, & Engineering Fair. While there are 60+ organizations set to participate, here are the top ten organizations I’m looking forward to seeing! 


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Snapchat
What it is: A photo messaging application for smartphones.
Fun fact: Over 350 million photos are shared via Snapchat daily.
 
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Rap Genius
What it is: A website dedicated to explaining the meaning of rap lyrics.
Fun fact: Although it is one of the fastest growing websites on the internet, Rap Genius only has 6 people currently on its tech team.

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Spotlight on electronic resources.
Peer2Peer
Pros: Opportunity to talk with fellow Harvard students who have volunteered to share their summer experiences with you.
Heads Up: This resource is for researching summer options and connecting with fellow students; it is not a placement tool. 

Where: www.ocs.fas.harvard.edu/students/jobs_peer2peer.htm Login required.

Spotlight on electronic resources.

Peer2Peer

Pros: Opportunity to talk with fellow Harvard students who have volunteered to share their summer experiences with you.

Heads Up: This resource is for researching summer options and connecting with fellow students; it is not a placement tool. 

Where: www.ocs.fas.harvard.edu/students/jobs_peer2peer.htm Login required.

Career Chat with Alan Bersin

10 Tips for a Successful Professional Career

Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, visited OCS in March and April to meet with Harvard undergraduates. Alan addressed students’ questions in a casual setting, each visit punctuated by wit and wisdom:

1. Be bold and take charge of your life situation. Even if it’s a job you know nothing about in the beginning, burrow into it and learn about it. Never sell yourself short on the ground by saying that “I don’t know anything about it” or “I don’t have any experience with that.”

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