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Arts & Museums Fellow: Leah Schulson

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Leah Schulson ‘14
Arts & Museum Fellows Program
Boston Children’s Museum

Sure, most of the walls are lime green. And it’s hard to go more than a few minutes without hearing a kids talking, or giggling, or banging on old pots and pans to learn about the physics of sound. But my time at Boston Children’s Museum (BCM) hasn’t been all play. I’ve been working with Grants and Development, helping to research potential funders, edit grant proposals and follow-up reports, and update records of past grants.

The nature of grant work, though, is such that you really have to understand the details of the project for which you’re seeking funding: how it was developed, its importance, and how it will fit into the rest of the museum’s work. Therefore, I’ve been exposed to so many facets of the museum. I’ve gone into Boston to sit in on meetings with a community partner about a potential collaboration. I’ve combed through old grant proposals to get a sense of how BCM thinks about healthy lifestyles. I’ve researched hundreds of foundations to understand what they’re funding. And I’ve gotten the chance to talk to my incredible coworkers about what they’re doing, and the challenges that they’re facing.

And, when things slow down a little, I’ve gotten the chance to walk through the museum and see everyone’s work come together into shining moments: toddlers concentrating on construction work, kids examining live turtles, and whole families rocking out (and learning about healthy exercise) on the Kid Power dance floor.

Learn more about the Arts & Museums Fellows Program:

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Photo of Boston Children’s Museum from Wikimedia Creative Commons user Twp.

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One of our bloggers reports from the recent Careers in Africa panel, sharing nine tips for work in Africa—and beyond! Panelists included Freeman Awindaogo, MPH ’14; Lydia Hsu, EdM ’14; Laura Melle, MPP ’15; Seni Sulyman, MBA ’14; and Kerry Williams, MPA ’14.

Here are nine things you must know if you want to go into a career in Africa: 

1. School is just a toolkit

A diversity of degrees is good for any post-graduate career. But don’t forget the other skills that can be even more important — can you learn quickly? Can you work well with other people? Can you think on your feet?

2. Have a vision

It’s critical to have a general vision of what you want to accomplish in your career. With a vision you can basically sway in the wind. You can take different skills from different jobs and apply them to get to where you want to be.

3. Embrace the awkward

In Africa, it’s going to be awkward to begin to assimilate to an entirely new culture. Don’t shy away from that. Use the language barrier to your advantage. Ask questions that push the boundaries, think of everything as a cultural exchange. Go in with an open mind.

4. Be flexible

For those considering fellowships, there is a lot of flexibility and opportunity to structure your time the way you want it. You’ll have the opportunity to meet so many people outside of your bubble. Enjoy this flexibility, even if you don’t necessarily have a plan.

5. Explore beyond the city

Sometimes, living in a smaller community outside of the city can be a better expatriate experience because you can work more directly with members of the community. Living outside the city is often a better way to integrate into the culture.

6. Be aware of your impact

If you’re going out in the world to “do good,” be aware that your good intentions might have unintended consequences. Spend time listening and looking at what’s going on around you.

7. Watch out for corruption

Be extremely careful about the company or organization you’re working for, and who runs it. Make sure you do your research before you start because corruption can be a huge issue.

8. Don’t stick to your plan

You’ll find out that it’s not about having a plan, but it’s about life’s plan for you. If you try to follow a path, you’ll just fall off of it. Branch out. Expect the unexpected.

9. Write home

Even if your work is based in Africa, you have a responsibility to educate people in the United States about what’s happening in these countries. Help spread awareness of what you’re working on.

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OCS adviser Loredana George welcomes guest panelists.

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Regional cuisine enjoyed during the event.

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Julia Eger, ’14

Careers in Africa was cosponsored by: The Office of Career Services, The Committee on African Studies, Harvard Africa Business Investment Club (HABIC), and Harvard African Student Association (HASA).

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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Social Impact Expo: Top 10

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Need help navigating the non-profit and mission-driven organizations attending the Social Impact Expo? One of our student bloggers has assembled a list of ten organizations you don’t want to miss! Open to ALL Harvard University students, the Social Impact Expo is co-sponsored by OCS and HGSE. Explore the (growing) list of organizations.

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Art Resource Collaborative for Kids
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: An organization that collaborates with the Boston Public Schools to provide art classes in support of the schools’ daily efforts of quality visual art programs, with special attention to deep learning and literacy.
Fun fact: Founder Sarah Mraish Demeter, who came to America from Jordan 20 years ago, began this mission after her son started kindergarten at a school that had no art teacher.

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Environment America
Washington, D.C.
What it is: A federation of state-based, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organizations.
Fun fact: Recently, Environment America helped fend off nearly 40 Congressional attacks on the Clean Water Act.

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Axiom Learning
Cambridge, Massachusetts
What it is: An after-school learning center focused on multiple intelligence and achieving kids’ potential for excellence through interdisciplinary 1-on-1 tutoring.
Fun fact: Axiom prides itself on its teaching staff: Fewer than 1 in 200 applicants are hired. All hail from top universities, have great personalities, and are completely dedicated to the success of their students.

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Boston Debate League
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A program supports academic debate teams in local high schools and trains BPS teachers to use debate as a regular part of their classroom practice. 
Fun fact: BDL is about to begin massive expansion and hopes to transform the academic structure of the entire district. 

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Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
What it is: The Public Defender Service provides and promotes legal representation to adults and children facing loss of liberty who could not afford counsel otherwise.
Fun fact: PDS provides representation for up to 60% of people who are financially unable to obtain representation; cases include criminal, juvenile delinquency, parole, drug court, and more.

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Boston Plan for Excellence
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A program that wants to improve Boston Public Schools, in hopes that every student can succeed. Its three-part strategy is to prepare and support highly effective teachers, ensure broad student success in partner schools, and create break-the-mold new schools.
Fun fact: BPE reaches 10% of Boston Public Schools students, helping to dramatically accelerate their progress. They are also creating new, replicable models for other school systems to imitate.

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Tenacity, Inc.
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: A nonprofit that aims to improve the scholastic, character and physical development of urban youth by combining tennis instruction and academic support with a focus on life skills.
Fun fact: 95% of Tenacity alumni graduate from high school, while the estimated Boston high school dropout rate is 30%.

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College Advising Corps-Boston
Headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (various locations)
What it is: A non-profit that works to increase the rates of college enrollment and completion among low-income, first-generation college and underrepresented high school students.
Fun fact: Founded in 2005, College Advising Corps has served over 189,000 students.

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iMentor
New York, New York
What it is: A program devoted to improving the lives of young people from underserved communities in New York City through innovative, technology-based approaches to youth mentoring and education.
Fun fact: Since 1999, iMentor has connected 11,000 students with mentors through their partnerships with public high schools in New York City and nonprofits nationwide.

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WGBH Educational Foundation
Boston, Massachusetts
What it is: WGBH is the single largest producer of PBS content, and while it’s a local organization, its TV and radio programming reaches an international audience. 
Fun fact: WGBH’s accolades include Emmys, Peabodys, and even two Academy Awards!

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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I was unsure if I was going to make it during my first day on the job. The temperature read 93 degrees, and my work for the day squared me off against what would come to be my biggest opponents of the summer—rocks and roots. It was the summer after my freshman year, and I had decided against the traditional summer internship and instead opted to spend one last summer outdoors working for a landscaping company.  The work was physically demanding—at the small company I found myself at the bottom of the totem pole and subsequently doing the dirty work in an industry that requires plenty of it.

Digging holes, as was primarily my function, required little skill and lots of hard work. On that first day I couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into, but as the summer progressed, I learned that I had given myself the most rewarding summer of my life. The skills I learned during that summer went far beyond tree placement and digging technique. First and foremost, I learned the value of hard work and the places it can get you.

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With my superiors taking notice of the hard work I put in day-in and day-out, I was given more and more responsibility. Taking on increasingly more difficult tasks, I found my “summer job” turning into a serious job that I took immense pride in. While many of my peers were spending time learning about the financial markets in New York in office buildings, I was spending time learning about the values of hard work and the skills necessary to move up and add value to a business. Hard work aside, there are a couple of major skills I learned, some the hard way, to assure success in whatever endeavor you take on:

While some responsibility was given, some had to be taken. Show initiative, and those above you will certainly take notice. By showing a genuine interest in the work you are doing, coupled with a desire to learn more, you will garner more responsibility and respect from those around you. The key word here is genuine, as meager attempts to assert yourself will be brushed aside in almost every industry, especially those with extreme competition.

Take responsibility for your actions, both good and bad. In garnering more and more responsibility quickly, I had a couple instances where I made mistakes and owning up to them only helped me gain more respect from my superiors. Passing mistakes downstream may help you avoid criticism at the time, but those below you will take note, and in due time, those above you will notice the trend as well.

Finally, I think what helped me most was my desire to succeed and my hunger to learn more and move up. While this may seem obvious for success, navigating any job takes an intense desire to succeed and do whatever it takes. That summer in landscaping, I learned all these things to my surprise. I thought I would have one last hurrah before joining the corporate world, but the skills I learned landscaping have transferred over to various other positions, including my most recent one at a management consulting firm in Boston, Argopoint LLC. Here, I have transposed the above skills I learned doing landscaping, which has  helped me immensely in navigating a very different type of role. The fast paced and intellectually demanding environment of my current position has had parallels with that summer that I never could have imagined before taking on an office job. 

So to those of you on the fence about what to do this summer and have the opportunity to do a “summer job” take it—and take it seriously.  Opportunities for learning will be plentiful, and will help you in every subsequent role you take on.

—Colin Smith ‘15

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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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The Arts & Humanities Dinner Series invites students to come for dinner and leave with advice from Harvard’s finest faculty. On the March 4 event of the series, Ned Hall (Philosophy), Jie Li (East Asian Languages and Civilizations), Derek Miller (English), Katharina Piechocki (Comparative Literature), and Daniel Donoghue (English) were in attendance. Conversation spanned a wealth of topics, dispelling many of the myths surrounding humanities concentrations. One of our student bloggers, Albert Murzakhanov, captured the following sentiments:

1. Many students worry that only those with financial security can pursue a humanities concentration; this is far from the case. Humanities concentrators are by no means limited to a single path that entails graduate school and research. Many go into career fields like marketing, law, consulting, and design, leveraging their creative and analytical skills to bring a unique perspective to a wide range of jobs.

2. Some may consider humanities a “selfish” concentration, but it is far from that, requiring you to fully immerse yourself in other cultures and periods. 

3. As important as picking a concentration you love is, the most important things you can get out of college are long-lasting and genuine friendships. Sometimes whether you went to certain event – and potentially met the person you will marry – may ultimately outweigh what you decided to concentrate in.

4. Do not try to connect the dots looking forward; you won’t be able to. Life is too spontaneous to let you perfectly plan out every step.

—Albert Murzakhanov ‘16

Check out the upcoming Arts & Humanities Dinner Events: April 1, April 16.

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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This post originally appeared in the Harvard Student / Alumni Advice Forum on LinkedIn

I recently had the pleasure of going on the 2014 Harvard Fashion & Beauty Trek, a joint initiative between the Office of Career Services and the Harvard Alumni Association. What follows is a summary of the information gleaned during our visits to Bloomingdale’s, Tory Burch, L’Oreal, and Conde Nast.

5 Tips for Getting Your Start in Publishing and Journalism

1. Start writing now.
If your goal is to be a writer or an editor, you need to gain experience. Start your own blog or write for a publication on campus, such as the Harvard Crimson. You should be able to showcase your writing to potential employers by creating a portfolio. Don’t assume that your writing career will start at the publishing house. 

2. Know which magazine you want to write for and why.
You want to work for Vogue? Why? You want to work for Harper’s Bazaar? Why? What are the differences between the two magazines? You should understand the mission, audience, etc. of each magazine brand, and be prepared to state why that particular magazine appeals to you. Don’t expect to be hired if you have never picked up a copy of the magazine. 

3. Decide whether want to be on the business or the editorial side.
Think about whether you would like to work on the business side of the magazinewhich includes advertising and marketing—or on the editorial side. You should be able to articulate why you chose that particular area and showcase any relevant experience. 

4. Know who you are and how you fit in.
You should have a clear understanding of what knowledge, skills, and talents you can bring to the position. Think about how you can be the solution to their problems and challenges. 

5. Understand that hiring is a process.
Hiring is a process, and you should exercise patience throughout. If you don’t get the position the first time, be sure to handle the rejection graciously. Things change, and if a position opens up in the future, you want to be remembered for the positive impressions you made. Lastly, be sure to send both a handwritten and an e-mail thank you note to your interviewer(s)! 

Administrative Fellow at Harvard University