Martha Austin (’16) Engages High School Students with Mathematics

My name is Martha Austin. I am currently a junior at UNCA majoring in Mathematics and am getting my teaching licensure. I chose this school specifically for their education program, knowing already that I wanted to teach upper level math. I first began joining different clubs and societies, and becoming friends with all the other math and education majors. It wasn’t until sophomore year that I joined the AVID tutor program, and that’s when I realized how dead set I was on my career path.

The past two semesters I’ve worked at Asheville High School tutoring kids that were in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Before this position, I had tutored sporadically for kids at my church growing up, but it wasn’t until this experience that I was able to really work with students in the schools and see how they struggle and learn in the classroom. Every day they taught me something new. Each day the students would bring in a question that they were confused about from one of their other classes. Then, in small groups, we’d ask each other questions to get the student to figure out the answer or understand the main point. These kids were so engaged in their work, bringing in great questions that they were confused about to their group. There were always rough days, such as some days students were just tired or not feeling well or didn’t do their assignment, but even if that happened, the students would still truck through and complete the assignment and help out their peers. I learned so much through this experience. Motivating kids to stay interested and seeing that light bulb go off in them when it finally clicks is what makes me want to become a teacher.

Being in this career path is a lot of work, but it’s so fulfilling. The education classes at UNCA immediately put their students right into the schools, having them do observations and teaching short lessons. The math professors teach you about different theories and how to learn, and different ways to come to a conclusion, which is beneficial for future teachers. If your students don’t understand the problem one way, approach it a different way. For future teachers at UNCA, my advice is to have patience and be flexible. I learned that patience is key, and having a good relationship with your students will help keep them motivated and interested. If you learn some things about each student, such as their interests, and use that to keep them intrigued, then the students are more likely to want to work harder. Each student also learns in a unique way, and being able to adjust your teaching methods to accommodate their needs is beneficial to student learning. If you make the lesson interesting, applicable to their life, and useful to them, then they will do better learning the information. These students, my fellow peers, and coworkers have helped push me to pursue to become a patient and strong teacher. I look forward to what awaits in my future.

Jessica Yee (’11) works with Publishing in New York

New YorkWhile moving to Brooklyn during the summer of 2011, I had the quintessential, clichéd “New York is so inspiring” experience. Although the physical trip to New York was terrifying (my parents and I had several extremely close calls with aggressive cabbies), seeing the Manhattan skyline for the first time was exhilarating and inspiring in a cheesy kind of way, especially when it hit me that this would be the new place I’d call home.

Fast-forward a week and I was bawling uncontrollably on the phone to my best friend in Michigan, moping in my unbelievably hot, air-condition-less apartment with four gigantic mosquito bites on my ankle. I was physically and emotionally miserable, and I was 100 percent convinced that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.

But things worked out, as they always tend to do. I started my graduate publishing program at NYU, got internships and jobs, made some fantastic friends, and conquered my fear of getting lost on the subway (though for the first six months I was always afraid that each time I left my apartment I would somehow get lost and end up in some obscure neighborhood in Queens with no idea how to get home).

Moving to a big city where I had no friends, family, or connections was the last thing I thought I’d be doing after I graduated from UNCA with a mass communications degree. I was a bookish, painfully shy kid when I was younger, and I was terrified of being vulnerable in unfamiliar or intimidating experiences. But around the middle of my senior year at UNCA, I realized that I co uld not see a future for myself in journalism. The thought of staying in my comfort zone and settling for a job I wasn’t excited about really pushed me to explore new opportunities. At the suggestion of a colleague on The Blue Banner, I completed editorial and art internships at Lark Books, which sparked my interest in publishing.

Once I decided to pursue publishing as a career, furthering my education seemed like the obvious (and only) option at the time. I was accepted at four graduate publishing programs iOpen Roadn cities across the country: Portland, Oregon; Washington DC; Boston; and New York. They were all tempting in different ways, but as the mecca for publishing, New York edged out the other options.

I’ve been in the city for a little more than four years now. I work in publishing at Open Road Integrated Media, and I’ve been at the company for almost three years. I started in 2012 as a managing editorial assistant, and back when our department was basically just me and two other NYU publishing grads, I had to learn extremely quickly and on the fly. After a year I became the metadata coordinator, and I’m now the associate digital asset manager. I’m responsible for all the metadata, cover images, and content assets for our entire catalog, which at this point is about 8,000 titles.

I’m responsible for data entry and supervision of our title management system, and I handle all the metadata, cover images, and content assets for our title list. As part of the managing editorial department, I often work with our editorial, art, and marketing teams as well. In particular, I work closely with merchandising and marketing to set up price promotions and monthly campaigns at retailers. I also work with Ingram and other printers to make sure our paperback book assets and metadata are complete and correct in their sales catalogs. Customer-facing data is also my responsibility, so I maintain regular correspondence with our 30+ retail partners to make sure our books’ product pages are up-to-date and formatted correctly on their sites.

The fact that my job is significantly data-driven gives me a wealth of opportunities for the future, should I decide to branch out and pursue a job in a different field. Data has never been more vital, especially since digital commerce has become the norm and transactions are instantaneous. It’s more and more important for all companies to use their data to support discoverability, customer analysis, and general operations. As Open Road’s title list has grown, I’ve had to come up with creative solutions for managing our books in both internal and customer-facing systems, and I’ve gainOpen Road maped a lot of technical skills that apply to data management in publishing and other industries.

Working at Open Road and going to NYU forced me to do a lot of things I used to dread—public speaking, presentations, leading training sessions, and diving into new experiences without knowing exactly what I was doing. It’s made me more assertive and confident, both personally and professionally. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned, and one that I’m still working on, is how to balance my work and my personal life.

When I fiOpen Road booksrst started at Open Road, the company was still very much in its start-up phase, and as such, we all worked extremely long hours, including taking work home on weekends. Now that we’re more established and our company is constantly growing, I don’t necessarily need to work on the weekends or stay for 10-12 hours during the week (though forcing myself to leave at a reasonable time is still a struggle). I’ve had to accept that the work will always be there, and that it’s important to take breaks and maintain perspective. I’m not a doctor or a public leader. I work in publishing and help make books. If something goes wrong or a project has to get pushed back a day, it really isn’t the end of the world.

That’s a lesson that I wish I had learned a year or two ago—how to relax and not take everything so seriously. Big changes are intimidating, and leaving college and entering the real world can definitely be a daunting experience. I went directly from UNCA to NYU, and I think my fear of idleness was the biggest reason I didn’t take a couple of months to figure out who I was and what I wanted in life. I hope current students don’t feel like they have to settle for the first job they can find. Even though I’m not in a position where I use my degree on a daily basis, it was a huge stepping stone that allowed me to get where I am now. Don’t feel like you have to follow a specific track just because you studied a certain subject in college.

However challenging my experiences in New York have been, being here gives me opportunities that I never would have had if I had stayed in my comfortable, safe bubble. Not only do I get to work in an industry I love, I’ve made wonderful friends, learned from some inspiring professors and colleagues, and accomplished personal goals I didn’t even know I had.

Talene Dadian (’16) Learns HR Expertise with Biltmore

My name is Talene Dadian and I am currently a junior Psychology major and Management minor at UNC AsTalene Biltmoreheville. Like many students, I started feeling the pressure to get “real world” experience. I wanted an internship and thought HR sounded interesting. However, I had no idea where or what type of company, if any, would even offer this. Thankfully, I spoke with the career counselors at the Career Center and they were able to connect me with an awesome opportunity that I don’t think I would have come across on my own, or even have thought of applying to. This past summer, I had the AMAZING opportunity to intern at Biltmore. Within Human Resources, I specifically interned within Biltmore Staffing Services.

Right from the start, I quickly learned and was treated with Biltmore’s trademark “Gracious Hospitality” that is extended to not only guests, but to all employees. As expected, I was given a multitude of research projects aimed at identifying niche culinary, horticulture, and hospitality markets and job platforms. However, I could not have imagined the amount of actual experience my internship would provide.  I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to be an active participant in nearly every step of the hiring process. From interviewing applicants to hiring new employees and getting all of their necessary pre-employment paperwork and trainings completed, I got to participate in everything!

One of my faBiltmore west sidevorite parts was conducting screening interviews with potential candidates. While initially terrified that I would be the interviewer for a change and not the interviewee, the Staffing Center worked with me to provide training and got me to feel more comfortable sharing details about the positions, Biltmore Estate history, the legal rules of conducting interviews, the types of questions to ask, and what answers to look for. The practice I gained through conducting interviews has been invaluable. I was able to not only see what an employer, such as Biltmore, looks for in a new hire, but I also had the chance to reflect on the way I interview and what I should and should definitely not do in the future.

I also learned about the tedious, time-consuming process of pre-employment onboarding that goes on behind the scenes before a new employee can start work. I was swimming up to my eyeballs in I-9 documents, tax forms, ordering of drug screens, background checks, physicals, scheduling of trainings, and making nametags and employee ID badges, etc. all of which must be completed for each new employee! As overwhelmed as I was at the beginning of all these endeavors, this was an excellent learning opportunity about the processes of staffing any company or organization. Being thrown into a new situation is part of life, school, or any job and I am so thankful that I was challenged to learn new skills and think critically about new processes.Biltmore Fall

Another awesome part about interning at Biltmore was the ability to interview other departments and areas of Biltmore Estate. I had the opportunity to complete informational interviews with the HR Safety Manager, Benefits Manager, as well as the Food & Beverage Manager for the Biltmore House, the Outdoor Center Director, and many other departments. From touring the house, test-tasting the delicious cuisine, interviewing different HR managers, to taking a trip to the west side of the estate to view the winery fields, I got to experience it all. Every moment and interview allowed me to see how staffing fit ibiltmorento each and every aspect of the estate and how interconnected each aspect must be for Biltmore Estate to run smoothly and provide the best guest experience.

I think the biggest challenge for me was wanting to do everything really well and not disappoint not only the Staffing Center, but also myself. The biggest tip I can give to anyone looking for experience with an internship is that an internship is a chance to learn, learn from mistakes, and learn how to quickly address mistakes. Ask questions, say “yes” to new projects. Take this opportunity to learn and challenge yourself!

When I first began my internship, I had no idea what type of Human Resources field I would like to go into. After completing my internship at Biltmore, I have found that I love working with people. Working in a talent acquisition and staffing center would be something I can see myself doing and enjoying as a future career.

Sarah Nunez (’04) and Carolina McCready (’98) Think outside and inside of the “bus” to Create Change

In 2011,  Sarah Nuñez (photo 12004) and Carolina McCready (1998) as well as their business partner Victor Palomino bought a short bus in an effort to continue their community work together and connect the dots in the work and needs of the people that they serve. In 2013, they officially launched the business, CHIVA, LLC – Transporting Opportunities to People.

CHIVA aims to overcome access challenges in WNC through creativity, arts and a bus. The project brings educational opportunities and multicultural activities to places where people live, work and play. This community “tool” helps neighbors to creatively access resources, entertainment and build solidarity. To learn more about CHIVA’s programs and events please like us on facebook at ChivaWNC or visit our website at www.chivatop.com

In 2014, CHIVA launched 2 new areas of work in addition to the arts education program that they launched in 2013.

Story Collection Project- We attend local events and film participants experience, thoughts, and ideas. Check out the video we produced at Goombay Festival this year at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zdQfQ_62UU&feature=youtu.be

Dialogue Circles- The bus is transformed into a “living room” for dialogue and we create the space for communities to embark on their own individual and collective journeys of identity, race, class, and so much more….

As a social entrepreneurship endeavor CHIVA is still growing, learning, and adapting to the needs of the community. We work with local festivals, community events, schools, and in neighborhoods. We are open to working in new areas and with new communities so please contact us to let us know what you think or if you have ideas at chivatop@gmail.com.

  • What was a typical day like in your position?

Sarah- “We share work and have various roles. I do a lot of sales and marketing for CHIVA. On a work day I am usually answering emails, updating the website or facebook, talking with potential clients, preparing contracts, and dreaming up new work and ideas for CHIVA.”

Carolina – “My time is spent mainly in planning meetings with CHIVA partners, running the Quickbooks (paying bills, making deposits, reconciling and making invoices), writing grants, editing video for clients and running events for CHIVA with my partners.”

  • How has your experience helped you prepare for your future?

Sarah- As an interdisciplinary major at UNCA I had the opportunity to work across disciplines and with many professors. Working with Volker Frank and John Wood  in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Joseph Berryhill in Psychology, Ken Betsalel in Political Science, and Alice Weldon in Spanish gave me many lenses to see my work as well as many mentors and students to learn and grow with. This academic approach lends to my analysis of many problems in today’s society.  My approach is to see the world from various lenses, to take in lots of ideas, and to think big.

Carolina- “My studies at UNCA helped me develop critical thinking skills and the capacity to research and find the answers to questions, issues and challenges I face.  Information is always evolving and being able to ask questions and look for answers will always be applicable in my life.”

  • What did you wish you had known going into the experience?

Sarah- “I wish I had taken a business classes in undergrad and understood more about cash flow. As most things in life go,  its also good to learn as you go and learn from real life experiences. We are constantly developing ourselves as business professionals.”

Carolina- “ I wish I had developed more hard skills.  Learned how to develop websites, or work with software such as Quickbooks or video editing.”

  • What advice do you have for current students who are pursuing your major?

Sarah- “Follow your dreams. If you have a deep desire to do something with your life, DO IT. A great mentor of mine always told me, “Sarah, make it happen”. I think of this anytime I have a new idea!  Also, It helps to have a team of people to work with and mentors and people that can advise you on how to accomplish your dreams. Don’t forget that there are people who have probably participated in parts of the work you wish to do. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Carolina – “Have faith in yourself.  As graduates, you have developed a lot of skills and knowledge; be creative and do not be afraid to forge your own path.”

  • What did you learn about yourself while you were working?

Sarah- “I’ve learned more about my style and how I work in teams. All three team members are different and we bring different skills to the work we do. I have learned more about what makes me excited in my day to day life and how to be a business owner.”

Carolina – “I have learned that there is always more work to do than there are hours in the day. It is important to be able to prioritize and manage your time. I find it is valuable to be mindful what you say yes to always create space to take care of yourself.”

  • What influenced you to apply for this position?

Sarah- “After 15 years of community work I decided it was time to launch something creative and original that could use all of my skills. I also see a lot of flaws in the current systems and ways of doing things. I wanted to create a way that used a team approach, outside of the non profit models, that would bring about community change and be a social entrepreneur business venture.”

Carolina – “I was excited about the CHIVA project because I saw an opportunity to work with people I respected in a creative and colorful way.”

  • What would you do differently if you could go back?

Sarah- “I would have created a business plan or thought through the number more before entering into a business. I am a planner and not having this part was hard for me for me to truly see the full vision of the work and how it would be put into action. On the other side of the coin, I’m learning as I go to, “go with the flow” more and learn to paddle my boat to the rhythm of those around me. As a “go getter” and “jump starter” type of person this is not an easy step for me to take….but as all things in life you have to learn, push your limits, and grow.”

  • Has your internship or job impacted your future?photo 2

Sarah- “Its made me realize that I love to be an entrepreneur and I also have a lot of creativity to share with the world. Its shaping my life daily by teaching me to about myself and all that’s needed to make a successful business.”

The CHIVA Bus at LEAF 2014 Fall festival. Participants talk about forgiveness in the social justice movement with Rev. Lyndon Harris.

Ryan Loll (’15) Promotes Hiking Habits in Asheville

My name is Ryan Loll and I am a senior at UNC- Asheville studying Health and Wellness Promotion as well as Spanish. I am currently from Charlotte NC but made the decision to stay in Asheville over the summer because I got a position working with Campus Recreation planning pre-rendezblue for the incoming students.

Before summer was in full swing, I got an e-mail from the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness asking for individuals to assist with an observational study that deals with recording the coming and going of trail users in the Asheville area. The center is working with an organization called “Kids in Parks” who’s goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle for children by motivating them to go out hiking and participate in outdoor recreation. The kids who hike on these trails can plug in their mileage online and get cool prizes after reaching set distances.  Because this project is still in its beginning stages, Kids in Parks wants to make sure that people are using the trails, reading the trail head sign and brochures that are offerIMG_4689ed so that they can implement this program in other states. This is where I came into play. My duty was to sit at the trail head at one of four trails in the area and record who is using the trail. I was given a little booklet that was used for data collection and I would fill out information such as group size, number of children, approximate ages of children, number of males and females, and how long they went hiking.  The funny part is the booklet I was given had birds on the cover and read “Birds of the Blue Ridge” so that people were not deterred by my presence. It was people watching at its finest.

So a typical day of “observing” would be 8 hours on Saturday and Sunday as well as 4 hours during the week of sitting in my camp chair or hammock reading a book or playing cards until a group of hikers would walk up to the trail head. Then we would act natural (or try to at least) and quietly record what they said about the trail as well as general information. They would hit the trail and I would resume back to where I left off in my book. The days ranged from being busy with hikers to an absolute ghost town.  One of the hardest parts of the job was not only keeping yourself occupied for hours while no one goes hiking on a rainy day, but also recording large groups from schools who  would come out and hike.  On my first day of work, a group of about 30 exited the trail and I was quickly overwhelmed with counting the number of people. Thankfully, I had a partner with me for company so that I was not alone all day on a trail, but for the most part I was pretty quiet.

The funniest and best part of the job was trying to be inconspicuous while “observing” hikers. The most popular method of camouflage was pretending to have a pic-nic but when you are at the same location several hours later only moving to avoid getting sunburned, your cover gets blown pretty easily. Sometimes people would catch on to our activities and notice that the same two people are at the same location that they were hours ago and they seem to be writing something down every time people use the trail.  We were instructed that if asked, we inform them about the project, but for the most part we were told to avoid interaction and any personal information because this study was strictly observational.

At the end of June the project ended and my skills of people watching were no longer needed. It was pretty fun being a part of this program because it allowed me to get a firsthand account of how projects like this are implemented, evaluated and improved. Thankfuunnamedlly I had an introduction to health implementation and evaluation in a class I took last spring titled “Health Promotion Theory and Practice” with Ameena Batada that allowed me to understand my purpose in this project. I was also glad to work with this program because it allowed me to establish a relationship with the North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness and I now have some basic experience with data collection not to mention my people watching skills have greatly improved as well.

I feel that the main reason why I got this short term position with the center was because of my relationship with my professors in the department of Health and Wellness (and also a little bit of checking my email).  For any students who are interested in a position like this I highly recommend just stopping by, saying hello, introducing yourself and establish that you are interested in work like this. The professors and staff members in this department are awesome and love getting students involved in projects like this.  After this project I honed in my skills of observational work, multitasking as well as keeping myself entertained during slow days. Thanks to this opportunity, I hope that more projects will present themselves to me and that I can use them for Undergraduate Research.

My advice to current students wishing to gain more experience in their field through opportunities out of the class room is to simply go and talk with their professors about what you are motivated and passionate about and ask them how you can personally grow to excel. These faculty members are not only teachers but resources to help students branch out and establish new relationships within their area of study.  This project and others similar to it are great for building transitional skills such as problem solving, communication, critical thinking and work ethic. Once this project had finished, I felt that I got a tiny taste of what working in health promotion and research is like and I am ready to go out and find another project in my field of study that I am most motivated about.

Joe Phillips (’09) makes an impact at the South Pole

I always wanted to travel and to experience nature outside of my native state of North Carolina.  So when I graduated from UNCA in 2009, my goal was to get a job outside of North Carolina, in some place new and preferably, with a lot of travel.  Like most recent college graduates, I applied for hundreds of jobs in the months following graduation and wasn’t having any luck thanks to my limited real world experience and the economy was still suffering from the recent recession.

As the economy got worse and the outlook for recent college graduates went downhill, I started to revisit a conversation I had at UNCA’s Atmospheric Science Department’s 30th Year Anniversary Symposium.  This conversation was about the NOAA CorpIMG_2580s and since I had never heard of this service and thought it to be too good to be true, I sort of brushed off the conversation at the time.  I gave it some more thought and since I had nothing to lose just by applying, I sent in my application.  Since the NOAA Corps offered a lot of travel, great health insurance, and diverse assignments, when they offered me one of the officer candidate spots in Basic Officer Training Class 116, I gladly accepted.

The NOAA Corps are a highly trained, deployable group of commissioned officers that manage and operate NOAA’s research platforms and collect science data vital to the success and protection of the United States’ domestic and international commercial and environmental interests.  We also hold high level leadership positions throughout NOAA.  Since joining the NOAA Corps, the United States’ 7th and smallest uniformed service, I’ve traveled more than I could have hoped for, held responsibilities I couldn’t dream of just a few months out of college, and assisted and lead science data collection operations in extremely remote, beautiful places around the world.

My assignments have also been very diverse and exciting.  My first assignment was to complete a variety of maritime trainings at the US Merchant Marine Academy that specialize in navigation, operations and safety while at sea.  Those days were spent enjoying the New York City skyline, driving small boats around Manhattan and applying the class work in operational situations.  Following thDSC_1155is training, NOAA gave me shipboard assignments that not only applied my nautical training and helped me grow professionally, but these positions also assisted in the deployment and recovery of many Tropical Atmosphere and Oceanic buoys along the equator that monitor the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycles and hydrographic survey operations along the Virginia, Oregon, Washington and Alaskan coastlines.  I was also tasked to lead oil, boom and marine mammal helicopter flights in the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response.

My current assignment tends to raise eye brows and seems unbelievable to most.  I’m currently NOAA’s Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO) Station Chief at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in South Pole, Antarctica.  As the station chief, I help to maintain the facility and a suite of instruments that sample the atmosphere.  ARO sits up against what’s called the “Clean Air Sector” and since air here is free from direct human contact thanks to its protection under the Antarctic Treaty, the data collected is used to determine Earth’s background atmosphere.  A change in this background atmosphere can represent a global change and given what is known about the different climate forcings in the atmosphere, anthropogenic changes.  The instruments at ARO measure aerosols, greenhouse gases such as CO2, solar radiation, halocarbons and trace species and current levels of ozone, including the ozone hole.  We also collect a variety of air samples that are analyzed in the NOAA Boulder labs and at Scripps Research Institute.

The experiences and education I received at UNCA was a building block to where I am now and the internships and various volunteer opportunities offered by the atmospheric science department paved the way for the commission that has given me so many great experiences.  While I was a student, I was active in the atmospheric science department; I volunteered and participated in the student chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), AMS outreach, the department’s forecast line, and every forecasting competition I could.  I spent my summers interning or doing research where I could and worked part or full time continuously.  My advice to everyone still in school is to keep your grades up and take advantage of every educational and social opportunity you can.  Internships, research positions and extra circular activities help you stand out in the job hunt, make you better-rounded, and help you get a job that makes you happy.  And of course, have fun!

Paola Salas Paredes (’16) is a HIPster

As a Millenial living in Asheville with its eclectic yet laid-back vibe, I have often gotten labeled as a “Hipster” (for those not familiar with the terminology, “hipster” refers to the anti-mainstream, pretentiously materialistic social clique that many young adults have taken to define our generation as outfitted by the Hipster mecca, Urban Outfitters). While I do enjoy wearing high-waisted shorts, practicing yoga, drinking tea instead of coffee, listening to “indie” music and attending music festivals in my free time, I choose to ascribe to a different type of hipster: the philanthropic, socially-conscious, Latina leader and North Carolina fellow for the transnational non-profit organization Hispanics in Philanthropy, or HIP for short.

Based in Oakland, CA anunnamedd with offices in Mexico and throughout the United States, HIP aims to strengthen Latino communities by increasing resources for the Latino and Latin American civil sector; increasing Latino participation and leadership throughout the field of philanthropy; and fostering policy change to enhance equity and inclusiveness. As a Political Science major with an interest in International Relations, I did not think I had any interest in the non-profit sector, but I did know that I was interested in learning about how an international organization worked and learning more about the issues facing the Latino community. I applied to the Z. Smith Reynolds foundation’s Non-Profit Internship Program (found while scrolling through Rockylink), which funded this paid internship and I was matched with HIP.

Since this was my first internship experience, I did not have any expectations. I assumed that at most, I would be making copies, answering the phone and doing data entry-essentially paper pushing. I figured this internship would serve as a resume stuffer, especially since I had no future career plans dealing with the world of Philanthropy or non-profits. After all, I was determined to be a Civil Service Officer working at U.S. embassies throughout the world. But here’s what I came to find out: HIP is just one unique nonprofit experience. My supervisor would often tell me, “You’ve seen one non-profit, you’ve seen one nonprofit. No two non-profits are the same.” And she’s right.

From the very beginning, my supervisors made it clear that I would not be doing any paper pushing. They took the time to get to know my interests academically, my career goals, they assessed where I was in my professional development and sat down with me to develop a work plan that not only gave me the most in-depth experience of a non-profit organization, but also challenged me to step outside my boundaries and take on projects that I had no previous exposure to, while also reserving time to develop hard skills such as public speaking and interviewing that will serve me throughout my professional career. I came to learn a lot about the ins-and-outs of grantmaking and grant writing. HIP is unique in that it focuses on capacity building grants (if you are wondering what capacity building is, make sure to send me a google invite for at least an hour so I can properly explain it and all its nuances!)

But perhaps most importantly, I got a great look at what the Latino population is like in North Carolina and what barriers and struggles they face. Did you know that between the 2000 and the 2010 census, the Lunnamed (1)atino population nearly doubled in North Carolina, making North Carolina one of the states with the highest growth in Latino population (accounting for a 120% change between 2000 and 2010)? As a Latina and a first-generation immigrant, it was fascinating to learn that I was part of this population boom. As a treat to my political interests, my supervisors sent me out to Raleigh to work alongside some of our grantee organizations as we spent the day lobbying our lawmakers on behalf of Migrant Workers’ rights as well as access to higher education for Latino students. Not only did it feel like a real life House of Cards episode (no Kevin Spacey, but all the drama was there!) but I felt like I was working towards something big. UNC Asheville has been very good to me the past two years offering me all the transitional help I needed as a first-generation college student, connecting me with the Multicultural Center’s Peer Mentoring program to ensure my success in that critical first year, and on top of that giving me the generous gift of the Board of Trustees scholarship. I want to work to ensure that such opportunities and mechanisms are available to all minority students.

Lastly, what I found truly fascinating about HIP is its ability to adapt to the current sociopolitical climate. Whether instituting a special grant round which funded organizations that would be helping Dreamers get DACA or facilitating discussion and gatherings with national funders to address Philanthropy’s reaction to the current humanitarian crisis of the immigrant children at our U.S. borders, HIP’s work is ever changing to meet the needs of the Latino Community.

In conclusion, my time with HIP has truly been a monumental experience that has directly led to me becoming a stronger leader, a better communicator and a more understanding individual. The lessons I learned in the office and out on the road with my supervisors have truly impacted me. Being surrounded by the many strong, motivated women that make up HIP has given me examples of th e type of woman I want to be. Although I still aspire to be a world traveler working at U.S. Embassies throughout the world, I am now confident that I have experience and interest in the non-profit sector and I am definitely considering it as a career. My advice to anyone looking for internships is to remember that internships are about the experience and lessons learned rather than what it looks like on a resume. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your interests and try something different, you may just find that it becomes the new thing you’re passionate about.

Sarah Hinson (’12) Follows her Writing Passion to Wildfire Advertising

I met a young artist named Em last night at a bar in Winston-Salem. We both described ourselves as creative types, and we both noted a disparity between reality and what my grad school professor liked to call “the aspirational self” (i.e. the ideal, yet unattainable, version of you who is forever flipping you the bird from her pedestal in the sky).

“When you’re always creating and thinking and driven by passion, there’s this self-inflicted pressure to be great,” Em said. “You just know you could do great things.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” I replied, wondering whether or not I could call myself a real writer because, well, isn’t copywriting working for “the man” and not for the greater good or for truth and beauty and justice? “It’s like you always know you could be great, but you have to be extremely self-disciplined to get there, and most people don’t get there.”

This is called arrogance, and it’s an epidemic in the creative world. Scratch that—in the human world. Even if you admit that you’re far from being “one of the greats,” you still think you could be great—you should be great—and that, friends, is what your freshman English professor called “hubris.” You might not think you have it, but you do. It’s the little monster under your bed that likes to disguise itself as humility.

Anyway, back to me. This conversation had me feeling a little bad about myself. I lamented the fact that I’m not one of those writers who wakes up at dawn to work on her novel and devours essays from The New Yorker during her lunch break. I am a writer who wakes up late, spends the day writing about undergarments and cake flavors, and comes home to skim gossip magazines. Truth be told, I am a disgrace.

“I’m not even sure what a writer looks like,” my new friend admitted.

Hmm. What does a writer look like? The archetypal writer? The 21st century, tech-savvy writer? The queer writer? The technical writer? The sober writer?

Then it hit me: I am who I am not because of what I have to show for it, but because of who I am. I am a writer. Period. (Or, better yet, exclamation point!)

I am plenty of other things, too. I am a daughter, a cousin, an aunt, and a friend. I am a female and a feminist. I am queer, quirky, and sometimes quiet. Whether or not I look like these things doesn’t change the fact that I am.

Here’s my point: who you are is going to manifest in a million different ways, and none of these ways is better than the other. Furthermore, you have no way of knowing how all these spectacular little aspects of YOU will express themselves.

This doesn’t mean you won’t have to work hard to succeed. You will. There will be times when you feel like throwing in the towel, but as long as that little ember of passion still burns within you, keep going. If you think you’ve lost that little ember, do everything you can to get it back.

That means something different for everyone. You might fall in love. Fall out of love. Travel. Hunker down and read a few good books. Volunteer. Hike. Conduct an anthropological study. Dance. Just do something and, if you’re lucky, you’ll end up doing what you truly love to do.wf-sign

I never thought I would love the ad world. There are countless things I never thought I would do, or feel, or say, and I’ve done, felt, and said all of them. I’m sure this will continue to happen until the day I die, because I don’t really know myself. The closest I can come to knowing myself is to become aware of that tiny burning lifespark in my gut.

I was a Literature major at UNCA with a minor in Mass Communication. I wrote articles and essays and interned with a local magazine and agonized over what I would do with my degree. (Here’s some more unsolicited advice: do not agonize. It won’t do you any good. Study what you love, and that will carry you through. I won’t say anything trite like “things will fall into place,” because no one can promise that. But your passion can sustain you, if you sustain your passion.)

Two years after graduating from UNCA, I received an MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art and Design. I wrote lots of nonfiction essays and long-form journalistic pieces and magazine articles. I wanted an editorial job. I agonized.

A friend told me to check out a few ad agencies in Winston-Salem, my hometown. I begrudgingly followed through and told each interviewee the honest-to-goodness truth: I knew next to nothing about advertising, I didn’t have any copywriting content in my portfolio, but I did love to tell stories that might resonate with people. I started my job at Wildfire few weeks later.

If you had told me four years ago—or four months ago—that I would be working in advertising after school, I would have laughed. Or shuddered. But, what do you know, it’s fun, and rewarding, and it has me writing and thinking, day in and day out. Sure, I might change career paths down the road, but I’m stoked to be doing what I’m doing right now.

Let go of that aspirational figment, especially if it makes you feel crummy about yourself. Let go of feeling like you have to carve out the perfect self, or the perfect path. Let go of the invulnerability you think you have when you think you know everything. If you’re open to them, unexpected opportunities will find you. Take them.

 

Kelly Olshan (15′) Interns at Americans for the Arts in DC

AFTA and Other Acronyms: Reflections on My Summer Internship

Ask a fine arts professional about arts management and most will respond with something along the lines of, “What is that?” At least that was my experience when I inquired about the field at UNC Asheville. Such reactions lead me to believe I was entering the uncharted territory of a highly specialized, obscure field. This is not the case.

AFTA Pose 1Over the summer, I spent two and half months interning at a national nonprofit organization, Americans for the Arts. A complicated and multifaceted organization, Americans for the Arts’ main objectives can be oversimplified into two main functions: 1) assist local arts agencies across the nation with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and 2) advocate for the intrinsic, educational, and economic value of the arts with respect to national and local policy.

Americans for the Arts hosted eight other summer interns: two in New York City, and seven in DC. We each represented one of AFTA’s respective departments; I served as their Local Arts Advancement Intern.

As my title implies, the majority of my work catered to Local Arts Agencies, or community-based organizations that integrate the arts into the daily fabric of their communities. While the description sounds specific, these organizations are broad in scope: they can be private or public, large or small, serve urban or rural communities. There are over 5,000 of them in the nation.

My job was to identify frequently asked questions, come up with questions and answers, and synthesize all the information into something coherent and user-friendly. The goal was to publish the finished content online so that local arts administrators would no longer have to directly contact Americans for the Arts’ staff directly with specific questions; the resources would be immediately available.

In practice, this endeavor consisted of going through hundreds of emails the VP of Research and Policy, Randy Cohen, had accumulated in his inbox—a task that represents undoing over 20 years of assigning mail to respective outlook folders. A daunting amount of data, the complete list includes 94 categories and 60 sub-folders—amounting to a total of 3,586 files. In case this wasn’t enough information, my supervisor and the previous intern had also acquired a collection of relevant questions.

While initially overwhelming, this project served as the most in-depth introduction to arts management a girl could ask for. During the process, I acquired all kinds of new acronyms and jargon. I learned the difference between the creative sector, the creative economy, and creative industry; a Local Arts Agency (LAA), a State Arts Agency (SAA), and a Regional Arts Association (RAA)—not to mention the respective needs, job titles, and resources they require on a national level.

By the end of the summer, I had put together over 20 documents on topics such as cultural tourism, the creative economy, local arts centers, and barriers to arts participation. As the project came to fruition, I worked with the web team to publish my work online. The staff helped determine where these documents belonged on AFTA’s website, as well as whether they should assume the format of a frequently asked question or PDF.

Ultimately, we decided the larger documents, such as a 14-page list of cultural tourism examples by state, would present better as linked PDFS. On the other hand, a more specific question like, “Where can I access funds for touring?” could manifest itself as a frequently asked question under the website’s “For Artists” tab.

Despite reading through his emails every day, it wasn’t until about a month into my internship until I actually met their author. In July, Randy sent out an email inviting all the DC interns to a local pub.  I immediately recognized him as the source of my Never-Ending Arts Data. The event actually carried an official title—Arts Drinking Group, a conglomeration I can confidently say all of us overworked, underpaid professionals are very happy exists.

At the bar, Randy introduced us: the Research Services Intern, an Australian student pursing a dual MBA and MA in Arts Management at SMU; the Animating Democracy Intern, a graduate student enrolled in Carnegie Mellon’s accelerated Masters of Arts Administration program. “You really need to get some interns with some ambition,” remarked Randy’s beer-drinking friend.Arts Drinking Group

Randy was hardly the only staff member who made our acquaintance: over the weeks, we were introduced to the organization’s ten departments and their respective staff members. The Internship Coordinator also organized field trips to Dance/USA, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW).

During the department meetings, each team sat us down in a sleek conference room—windows displaying the tenth floor view of downtown D.C.—to explain to us, in highly articulate language, what it is exactly they do.

Many of these departments had functions and objectives I didn’t even know existed. Or worse: I was familiar with their titles, yet had completely misinterpreted what those titles meant. Take development, for instance: such a vague, optimistic term leads one to think, “Developing what?” The objectives of the organization, I assumed. Instead, “development,” is often synonymous with “fundraising,” which requires strong written and verbal communication skills.

“If you’re not a communicator, don’t go into development,” said Kate Gibney, Vice President of Development. From the head of the table, Kate looked like the epitome of artsy chic as she told us about her career at the Smithsonian, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She said this casually, delivered in the same tone from which she informed us of her college major. Kate’s story was not unusual: so many of AFTA’s staff members had prestigious backgrounds and educations I came to expect it.

Our departmental meetings ran in conjunction with our day-to-day activities. In my case, this involved working under four supervisors on the Local Arts Advancement team: the Local Arts Agency Services Program Manager, my official supervisor; the Public Art Programs Manager; the Vice President of Local Arts Advancement; and the Field Education and Leadership Programs Manager. All of them had different assignments for me to work on.

2014 NAHM “Call for Partners” Instagram Promotion:

National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM ) Promotion

One of my favorite projects involved helping develop a social media campaign for National Arts and Humanities Month (NAHM), a celebration of arts and culture hosted by AFTA every October. Given my fine arts background and millennial status, I was put in charge of compiling the Instagram prompt asking artists and arts enthusiasts to #ShowYourArt. What looks like an aggrandized picstitch actually took hours of linking layers and debating composition. Perfectionist or photoshop amateur? I’ll let you decide.

Additionally, I worked with the Arts Education Intern to develop resources on how Local Arts Agencies can effectively support arts education within their communities. Most Local Arts Agencies offer arts education programming in some capacity, but their means differ as much as the organizations themselves. Our project, “What Locals Arts Agencies Can Do for Arts Education,” compiled both internal and external sources on cultural planning, workshops and classes, community engagement, school partnerships, and funding.

As my partner just completed a graduate degree in Arts Education, she took on the role of a content specialist. I, on the other hand, used my editing skills to transform a 20-page case study on “Portland’s Path to the Arts Tax” into a 2-page summary intended to serve as a strong model for arts advocates. Once completed, we presented these projects to half the organization—an intimidating feat, as it involved pitching a powerpoint in heels and a pencil skirt while the CEO scribbled furiously onto an AFTA-branded notepad.

All this exposure to new job titles and specialties gave rise to pressing existential questions of “Who do I want to be when I grow up?” and “What am I doing with my life?” Tell someone outside your prospective field something vague like, “I would like to combine art and business,” or more specific still, “I would like to pursue a graduate degree in arts administration,” and no one presses further. They are impressed you have some semblance of a plan, and continue with their daily dose of small talk.

But at Americans for the Arts, surrounded by arts administrative professionals, this kind of answer doesn’t cut it. Instead, people ask follow-up questions like:

“Do you want to go into for-profit or non-profit? Private sector or public sector?”
“I saw on your resume you’re a writer. Have you looked into development? Communications? Marketing?”

“Who do you want to be when you get out of grad school? As in, what job title would you like to hold?”

“You don’t need to go to grad school. Just go get work experience.  Honestly, when I hire, I don’t even look at where applicants went to school.”

“Grad school was the best thing I ever did. Really gives you comprehensive overview of the field.”

And perhaps most frikellyolshanghtening:

“You should look at Museum jobs in Dubai or China. Things are happening in China. Nothing is happening in the US.” When I responded that I don’t speak Chinese, my supervisor deemed this inconsequential. “Doesn’t matter,” she said, taking a sip of her third caffeinated beverage of the day.

To get some answers, I scheduled coffee dates with anyone with a caffeine addiction and a willingness to impart an hour’s worth of wisdom (these criteria basically include the entire staff). As it were, I met with team members from development, membership, and research; the COO, the CEO, and the executive assistant, to name a few. I didn’t realize how many notes I’d taken until it was time to unpack my desk, which practically contained a dissertation’s worth of legal pads.

And these meetings are just from the AFTA staff. Everyone knew someone, making it easy to fall down a networking rabbit hole. My supervisor happened to be friends with the Director of American University’s Arts Management program, a charming no-bullshit woman who point-blank informed me, “Your experience is great, but your resume is all wrong.” She proceeded to print it off, grab a red pen, and said, “Let’s do this.”

Of all these conversations, my primary take-away was that no one—not even prestigious arts professionals I so admired—has a direct career path. Unfortunately for us Type A folk, the universe forces you to meander. One VP with decades of museum and independent curatorial experience told us that she’s still trying to figure out who she wants to be when she grows up.

The COO and CEO followed the same trend: while I was hoping for them to divulge some sort of formulaic method they’d all been safeguarding, instead they told me no such process exists. “If you are passionate about your work, if you are engaged and asking the right questions, there is no wrong path,” they told me. My cubicle buddy put it more forthrightly: “Stop doubting yourself. You got this.”

To read more about Kelly’s internship and her art, visit her website at www.kellyolshan.com or her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kellyolshanart

George Etheredge (’15) Explores Life through Photography

I moved to Asheville when I was ten years old and am now 23. A year after I moved to Asheville I started skateboarding, which has given me a community of creative friends, led me to travel to many places, see things in a way that many people do not, and most have all taught me to be persistent. It has hands down been the most influential thing in my life and has been the catalyst for what I find important and who I am today. After high school I took a year off to travel, work and experience life without regards to any specific schedule that school had driven into me after 15 years. I soon realized that getting out of the daily routine of school, I was instead just switching from one routine to another. I got very tired of working random jobs that I had no interest in or input in and decided that I needed to go back to school to keep my mind active and open.

I started school at AB-Tech to work towards my Associates degree and eventually transfer to a 4-year school. A semester before earning my Associates degree I had the chance to go travel Europe for a few months and skateben-rorey-jacob044did. I was in the Czech Republic for the majority of the time, but also traveled in Germany, Austria, and visited some friends that I met through skateboarding in Norway. It was an amazing experience and changed my outlook on many things. I started to shoot some photos while I was traveling, but nothing serious. When I got back to Asheville I finished up my Associates degree, and decided to learn about photography and start shooting photos.  Being in Europe was great but the language barrier made me feel a bit alienated. I still felt alienated when I arrived back to the states because of the endless amount of sub-cultures, social statures, and varying ideologies that exist in our modern world.

I wanted to explore my curiosities about people and the different ways that people live and construct their realities. PhotograpIMG_3959hy has given me a reason to meet people and learn about life, not only others’ lives but also my own. I am now at UNCA working towards my BFA in photography. It has been nice to be around like-minded people who can help give feedback and be there to learn from.  I do not consider myself an artist, but instead just someone who is learning to convey meaning through photographs. The liberal arts have helped me to widen my view and learn about a variety of things rather than just focusing on photography. I am very appreciative of the well-rounded curriculum that has helped me to get out of my comfort zone and learn about history, art, and other things that I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Outside of school I work at Push skate shop and gallery part-time and do freelance photo work whenever it comes my way. I also try to stay busy working on personal projects and keeping up with photography through friends and research. Trying to stay active in photography even when not in school has led me to meet people who have given me freelance work and invaluable advice on photography. Most recently the Asheville Citizen-Times published my first personal project that I worked on completely outside of school, about a community garden in Pisgah View Apartments. I had a lot of assistance from friends, who gave me feedback and advice that was a huge help while working on my first long-term project. I worked on it for the past year between going to school and working. I am very appreciative for the men who work at the garden letting me document their lives. It took a lot of patience, research and persistence, but eventually it materialized into something that I am happy with. I am most proud of the fact that I was able to build relationships and friPVApeacegarden07endships with the guys at the garden.

I go to UNCA to learn and be around like-minded individuals, not to get a job. Although I think a degree can be helpful when getting jobs, I think it is more important to try to find a personal vision and something that you deeply care about, then people will take notice and work will follow. I am still working to find my vision and to stay motivated even when I don’t know exactly what my outcome will be. Beginning a project and staying motivated without having immediate outcome have been my biggest challenges. Going to school helps me to stay driven shooting photos, but my most valuable advice to students is to find a way to become self-motivated. You are not always going to have assignments to help guide you towards projects and ideas. Staying active in the things that you are passionate about even when you don’t have outside encouragement is what is important and will make people care about the work that you do.

Here is a link to my Pisgah View Apartments peace garden project on the Citizen-Times photo blog:

http://blogs2.citizen-times.com/photography/2014/07/11/sunday-frame-pisgah-view-peace-gardens/

Link to my blog:

http://georgeetheredge.tumblr.com

Contact:

George.etheredge@yahoo.com