An interview with Ryan Smith: Arts careers, the Career Center and the NYC Arts and Entertainment Trek

Ryan Smith, assistant director of the Tufts Career Center and career advisor for the arts, poses for a photo in front of the 230 Fenway building. Courtesy Ryan Smith

Tufts students will have the opportunity to travel to New York through the Tufts Career Center’s NYC Arts and Entertainment Career Trek on Oct. 5. According to Ryan Smith, assistant director of the Career Center and career advisor for the arts, the trek will be a one-day trip stuffed with meeting various Tufts alumni, organizations and companies, as well as career networking. During last year’s inaugural trip, 27 students visited organizations like the American Theater Wing and Grey Global Group, an international advertising agency. Applications for the trip are due Sept. 14 and can be found on Handshake — all students can apply, but seniors are given priority. The Daily interviewed Smith, who has designed the trip.

Tufts Daily (TD): Would you mind introducing yourself and your role in the Tufts Career Center?

Ryan Smith (RS): I was brought on in September 2016. My role within the Career Center is to share my time between both campuses — [Fenway] and [Medford/Somerville] — and work with any student who is either an arts or creative major or minor, like [the School of the Museum of Fine Arts] (SMFA) students, [Film and Media Studies], dance and drama. I also help students get a sense of how they balance being an artist and having a full-time job, how they do something that’s arts-related and what opportunities, internships and roles there are for them. My role is career advising and creating career programs and events that cater to that. There are a couple of us within the Career Center that are focused as industry sector specialists for a certain population. However all of us are cross-trained to help any student that has big picture career questions or is just starting out on their understanding of their career. The Career Center is a resource that is here to cater towards that.

TD: What are some of the programs you do?

RS: Some of the programs I do in addition to career advising include NYC Arts and Entertainment Career Trek, which is a specific program that builds a bridge between current Tufts students and Tufts alumni and employers working in the arts in New York. Some college students may think networking and reaching out to alumni can be scary. I coach students that the sooner you start networking and engaging with Tufts alumni and employers at campus events, the easier it becomes. You should never stop networking and we are here to help. For the NYC trek, I wanted to help Tufts students make New York not seem that far away and do something where the students can take advantage of engaging in real time with employers, seeing what would it look like if they got to New York and seeing what things they aren’t thinking about in terms of their career. If you’re [interested in the arts] at all or majoring in something arts-related, either at the SMFA or [at Medford/Somerville], this trek is definitely something for you.

TD: How did this trip start? What are some details about the trip?

RS: Working at other universities in Chicago and Syracuse [N.Y.], I saw the value of getting students off campus and in front of employers. I wanted to give Tufts students the chance to build bridges to New York contacts earlier. [Tufts Career Center] has a wonderful employer relations team that’s really engaged and committed to bringing new employers on board, and I worked very closely with them to build the trek. The trek started last year, and we had 27 students go. This year, we have 50 student spots and, basically, it’s a very full day of employer site visits as a full group and then splitting off into concurrent site visits. The students do lunch on their own and then there’s an employer and alumni reception. We promoted it to different departments in order to encourage students to go because not every person who goes is some sort of arts-related major. Last year, we had an economics student who wanted to work with HBO. This year, we have Spotify, ABC News, New York Theatre Workshop and more sites planned. It’s a really mixed and amazing event.

TD: What does the trip look like logistically?

RS: Last year, we took a bus to New York really early in the morning and left at about 6 a.m. on Friday, went into the city and took a group picture in Times Square. Then we went to the American Theater Wing as a group. We learned about working in arts organizations and the history of the Tony Awards; we got to hold Ingrid Bergman‘s original Tony from the [1940s]; and students got a chance to ask questions and hear the stories of staff members there who weren’t that far off in age from the students. They brought up a lot of topics that everyone was thinking about — the struggle to get to New York, looking for roommates and finding an entry level job. The group then split and went to different sites, like Jazz at Lincoln Center, HBO and Grey [Global Group]. This is fantastic for networking — an experience that really just puts Tufts students in these arts-related career networks. There’s a few Q&As and a kind of panel conversation from different staff members at the different sites, and then we did an alumni and employer mixer at night. Around 8 o’clock we were able to get the bus back to Boston. So, the day is like a 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. day with some breaks throughout. Students could also sign a waiver to not return on the bus with us and decide to stay in New York for the weekend — so that’s an option.

TD: If students are interested, how should they apply to the trek? What advice do you have to students who are applying?

RS: Students can apply through Handshake, which is the Tufts Career Center’s portal for jobs and internships, career events to RSVP to and where students can schedule advising appointments. The application is due on Sept. 14 and the trip is on Friday, Oct. 5. Seniors get priority, but we’re really open to everyone applying because it’s such a great opportunity. If you get accepted for the trek, we take a $20 deposit that you will get back the day of the trip. My best advice is to take advantage of all the Career Center’s resources and just submit the application. Think about how you would want to represent Tufts at the trek and what you would take away from it. I just want students to understand that the goal is to show the opportunities they have and that the bridge to New York isn’t scary – it’s very accessible for them.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that the last year’s NYC Arts and Entertainment Career Trek included a visit to New York Foundation for the Arts. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily regrets this error.