Today’s college students are in quite the pickle. Most of us decide to go to college because getting a degree will help us get a job. But to get that job, you need at least 2 to 3 years of internship experience in that field already.
This internship experience is often unpaid, so many college students need to get second jobs to hold themselves over during these internships. To kill two birds with one stone, many students seek internship experience during their years in undergrad, in hopes of gaining the professional experience they need to make a career immediately after graduation.
When I decided to break away from engineering, to buckle down and pursue a career in the liberal and fine arts (at a school primarily known for its engineering program), the prospect of gaining internship experience grew exponentially more daunting.
It is with the utmost satisfaction that I can say Arts NC State wiped away any worries that I had about pursuing the arts at a STEM school.
Let me backtrack a little bit. My mother, who raised me on her own, is an Electrical Engineer and now project manager for a Fortune Top 100 company. She got her education in London after leaving Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In the midst of being the only woman in her degree program and living 3400 miles away from home for six years (without being able to go back… she had to do an extra 2 years of schooling to even be eligible as a foreigner to enter a Bachelors program in the UK)… she also had to learn English.
Needless to say, my mother has always valued education. She raised me with a strong work ethic and a dedicated sense of duty to improve the world in any way I possibly can. She even raised me to pursue any career path of my choice:
“Doctor, engineer, or homeless. Your choice!”
I’m sure many other 1st-generation Americans have heard that from their parents. No shame!
When I was accepted to NC State, my goal was to earn a degree in computer science. Long story short, that didn’t go as planned. I have always been interested in sciences, but have never had an aptitude or particular passion for them. My brain just doesn’t work in the way that science merits. No matter how hard I tried, my achievement in sciences was average at best. However, I did have consistent achievement and recognition in the arts.
After multiple existential crises (as we all have every few days in college, am I right?), I decided it was time for me to break away from the emphasis on STEM education with which I had been brought up. Upon realizing this, I changed majors and dove head-first into the myriad of opportunities to be involved here at NC State and the greater Triangle area.
So now, I write this blog as I wrap up my first year interning with Arts NC State as an assistant in Outreach, a paid (!!!) position that has given me priceless professional and artistic knowledge.
On paper, my experience at Arts NC State has been the most formative part of my journey as a professional multi-disciplinary artist and arts administrator. My responsibilities have, thus far, included administrative duties, actively keeping track of the programs throughout the 6 departments with Arts NC State: University Theatre, the Music Department, the Dance Program, the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, the Crafts Center, and NC State Live. These administrative duties were comprehensive, ranging from leading informative events and discussions for current and prospective students to designing promotional publications for select arts events on campus. At the start of my internship, my primary tasks involved creating administrative spreadsheets, public relations work during new student orientation, and assisting in the curating process for the student artwork hung throughout the newly renovated Talley Student Union. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet and become well-acquainted with touring artists from all over the world, such as spoken-word-violin duo “Blackbird, Fly” and avant-garde Tunisian singer/songwriter Emel Mathlouthi. Over the course of last summer, and into this academic year, my responsibilities have grown and flourished, and I continue to gain invaluable experience as an aspiring arts administrator by working closely with our Outreach Coordinator, (the one and only Amy Sawyers), and the directors of Arts NC State.
Off paper, intrinsically, the value of my time here at Arts NC State is infinitely expanding. I have fostered lifelong professional relationships (and, more importantly, friendships) with the directors and administrators at Arts NC State, and I constantly gain invaluable knowledge from them as both a student and colleague. Each person has touched my life and helped me grow as an artistic professional and as an individual. I am so grateful for the Arts NC State team.
The reason I now gravitate towards a somber tone is because today is my last day with Arts NC State as an outreach intern. In just a few days, I will begin a paid internship in Charlotte with ISDgames, working on designs for their upcoming programs, re-branding their products, and marketing the business as a whole. I would not have been offered this position if it weren’t for the experience I gained at Arts NC State. Though I will no longer be holding this exact position, I will still be part of the ANCS team as a special projects assistant, working closely with the department directors as we develop the already thriving arts community here on campus.
As someone who came to NC State to pursue engineering… as someone who, like many of you, worries constantly about finding a job… as someone who seeks personal fulfillment in his career choice… I can assure you, whole-heartedly, that the arts are very much alive at NC State. Even though I’m not an engineering student anymore, it’s certainly not the reason I’ve been able to immerse myself in the arts community on campus. Whether you are studying engineering, mathematics, philosophy, accounting, English, or animal science, there is always a place for you at Arts NC State.
Overall, after working for a year in an arts collective at an engineering school, I firmly believe that innovation in science and technology is nothing without art and creativity. With an arts community as prominent and flourishing as Arts NC State, perhaps it’s time we no longer identify as a STEM school, but as a STEAM school: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.
Areon Mobasher is a junior majoring in English-Literature. He is the recipient of the 2015-2-16 Performing Artist Award in voice.