The Work of Creativity

By: Emily

Emily's poem

Sometimes creativity comes in exciting spurts, with long in-betweens of staring at a blank canvas or sleeping on our computer keyboard. Moments of inspiration are exhilarating, but the creative process can be wrought with anxiety and therefore takes bravery and endurance. Everyone has the capacity to think creatively. If we are a sum of our life experiences that have shaped us from birth, our perspective is unique. If this is the case, then you have something to share that no one else can offer. Art can be a way to share these viewpoints. Art can also help us see life through a variety of different lenses and wrestle with multiple truths that are sometimes conflicting.

If you are currently an undergraduate artist, actress, designer, director, dancer, choreographer, writer, musician, graphic designer, or photographer you are probably working on mastering your craft as well as building your portfolio. As I have taken classes in digital, applied, and performing arts, I’ve been collecting mantras that have changed how I viewed the creative process. These gems of advice from other artists sum up my four years as an SFA student as well as include some recent advice given by speaker Jonah Lehrer at the Sieur Du Luht Creativity Conference.

Work begets work Learn by doing. Do. Experiment. Play. Be messy. Break the rules. As you create, ideas will come more easily. Remember that moments of creative lucidity or “aha” moments can be few and far between. The work is difficult and scary, but when you start, it might take you in a direction you did not expect.

Don’t cheat yourself out of realizing your full potential. Many of us have been trained to cut corners in school. We do only what is absolutely necessary to get by, but by not taking time to do the best work you can do, you are only letting yourself down. There is no way to unlock your potential if you do not push yourself. At the end of the day, you are going to want a portfolio of work you are proud of. And it will matter much more than a good grade.

Take advantage of opportunities to collaborate. Collaboration can stimulate truly fantastic work. Teaming up with others can reveal blind spots that you were unaware of in your own work. Problems that you were having difficulty solving on your own, can suddenly work themselves out of a tangle. As new voices with a unified sense of purpose and aesthetic are added to the mix, the work can become richer- like overtones in a piece of choral music.

Expose yourself to new experiences & learn everything that interests you. You put out what you take in. The more you take in, the more you have to draw from. Learn from your predecessors and masters of your craft. You have more artistic freedom than many of the greats, more freedom than Michelangelo and Raphael. You also have more artistic freedom in this country than many other places in the world. And in a university setting, you are protected from certain pressures and criticism that exists in the “real world”. These are the perfect conditions to see how far you can fly, so don’t hold back now.

And at the end of the day, get back up. Sometimes you have an image in your mind, but when it comes to implementation, nothing you do can quite reach your ideals. You take a risk and make your art and some people criticize what feels like an extension of yourself. You compete for a grant, or try to get published, or pitch a show to a producer, or submit a film to a festival and you get rejected. Van Gogh was rejected countless times and never sold a painting in his life. So you take the fall, you feel vulnerable and injured. And you get back up, because failing isn’t actually failing in the arts. It’s an integral part of the creative process.

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Do More with Your Summer

By: Whitney

Summer is a time for getting out and enjoying sunshine, fresh air, and a break from schoolwork. It is always great to refresh and recuperate after a long semester of classes, tests, and finals. Have you ever thought of what else you can do with your summer to try and either jump-start your career or just get ahead in classes?

Do more with your summer

Many college students get a job to try and save up a little cash for the upcoming year. This is a great idea especially since it allows most students to be able to work less during the school year or possibly not at all so they can focus on course work. The best way to choose a job is by trying to find something that relates to your chosen field of study. For instance, I am going to school to be an elementary teacher. Summer would be a great time for me to try and find a job working with younger students. A job pertaining to your major or career path will be a great resume builder and provide experience that employers are looking for.

Internships are also great opportunities! Think it’s too late? Think again! Although ideally you would want to have an internship by now, there are still employers who are hiring interns for the summer! Check out sites like GoldPASS to see what is still available for you!

As I stated in a previous blog post, volunteering can do wonders for your resume! If you can’t find a job or an internship in your field, there are many places that are always looking for volunteers. Even if it is volunteer work that seems simple, it’s still rich with opportunities and experiences. Employers are not looking for just paid experience. They will take as much experience as they can get, paid or unpaid.

I know that as school is wrapping up, more school is the last thing that you want to do, but summer is a great time to get a few credits out of the way! There are many courses that are offered during the summer that can help you get back on track if you changed your major, help you get ahead so you have an easier load in the future or graduate early, or maybe retake a class that you were not happy with your grade. Most colleges offer online classes if you are not staying in the area which are easy to make work with your work schedule because you can do them whenever you have time.

Summer is also a great time to work on updating your social media sites and your resume! These are both necessities that tend to be pushed to the side because of schoolwork and other outside of class activities, but you tend to have a lot more time in the summer to give them the attention that they need. Updating your resume or documenting what your summer job entails on your running document are both great ideas so that you do not struggle to remember what you did or how many people you worked with when the time comes to submit your resume. Resumes are not the only things that need to be updated, however. Students should also be working to update their LinkedIn profiles as well. Summer is a great time to really sit down and develop your profile and make connections with a lot of different people, and do a little research on different companies you are interested in.

Summer is a great time for fun and games and should be relaxing, but it is also important that you are making the most of your time! You wouldn’t waste 3 months while in school so don’t waste your summer either! You don’t need to do everything on this list, but pick one or two things and start there. These things will make you more marketable and help you get ahead in your career.

Does anyone have plans for this summer? Please share what you plan to do to do more with your summer!

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Photo by: Courtney Kinnander

Bucket List for a Well-Rounded Undergrad

By: Emily

Time flies….my graduation date is looming like a dark cloud in the distance….and I’m having a mid-undergrad crisis moment. Have you ever had one of those? It’s similar to a midlife crisis, except this level of anxiety is reserved specifically for undergraduates. There is simply too much to learn and accomplish in such a short period of time! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave UMD with any regrets. With only a year left to grow and expand as a college student, I compiled a bucket list for myself so I can prioritize what I want to give the most energy to. Here are some ideas if you want to make an Undergraduate Bucket List too!

Bucket List

1. Travel: Study / Intern / Volunteer Abroad

If you ever had any desire to go abroad, then you should do it. You can go for a few weeks out of the year on a winter break or May term trip, or go for an entire year or just a single semester. Try to keep an open mind, and don’t get dissuaded from travel just because of money. There are scholarships and financial aid you can apply for and programs vary in price, you just have to be willing to ask for guidance. Visit the UMD International Education Office website to look at different programs and make an appointment with an advisor to discuss possible options. Don’t feel like you have to commit to anything right away, just explore your options. If you are interested in working or finding an internship abroad, counselors at Career Services can help you get started with your search. GoingGlobal is a great way to view job listing and research different cultures and countries.

Note: Check out Ashley’s great post on GoingGlobal and follow the posts of our peer educator, Zach- he’s currently studying abroad in London!

2. Obtain an On-Campus Leadership Role

Refine your leadership skills and build up your resume! Trying on some different hats! Here are some ideas:

  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Rock Star
  • Student Advisor / Peer Advisor
  • On Campus Job
  • Tutor
  • Tour Guide
  • Instructor of a RSOP fitness class
  • Captain of an intramural sport
  • President / Vice president / Secretary / Treasurer / Active team member of a club

3. Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP)

So you’re not going to believe me, but there is a way to research anything that your creative spirit yearns to know and actually get paid for it. For the artistically inclined, you can propose a creative project (write a play, create a film, or choreograph a dance) and get paid. Yes. This is actually a real thing that exists. The first step is to find a mentor, come up with an idea, and then write up a proposal. This is a competitive process, so make sure your proposal is well crafted. The deadlines for UROPs can be tricky because applying for the next semester happens during the middle of the current semester.

Note: Cody wrote a more in-depth post about the UROP, so if you’re interested, check it out!

4. Internship / Shadowing /Volunteer

Get some experience underneath your belt by finding an opportunity to be an intern, a volunteer or to shadow someone in a profession you’re interested in. Paid or unpaid, experience is experience, and it’s a wonderful resume builder. GoldPASS is good place to start if you are searching for internships  ( Career Service provides regular workshops on how to find internship opportunities, so keep an eye on our events calendar! If you are interested in volunteering, the Office of Civic Engagement would be a fantastic resource for you.

Note: Cody wrote a great blog post about unpaid internships!

5. Work for The Basement and/or The Statesman

Whether you consider yourself a journalist or not, practicing your communication skills by getting involved in The Basement on KUMD or The Statesman could be a good move. You don’t have to participate as a DJ or be a writer to be involved. I have friends that take pictures for the newspaper, or participate by sorting through music for The Basement. There are multiple ways to contribute!

6. Join A Club / Intramural Sport

When will you have the chance to try slack lining or maple syruping or cosmic bouldering or scuba diving? It’s likely that this will be your only chance! Use it as a unique networking opportunity and meet people that are involved in different disciplines and areas of study.

Recreational Sports Outdoor Program (RSOP) – Intramurals

Student Organizations

Other Ideas for Undergraduate Students at UMD:

  • Be Civically Engaged by connecting with the Civic Engagement Center
  • Attend a play and dance concert
  • Listen to music in the Webber Music Hall
  • Visit the Multicultural Center
  • Go into the Tweed Museum
  • Take an RSOP class

Creating a bucket list prioritizes your time and helps you make career moves that expand you as an individual. Allow yourself to experience new things so you don’t miss out on the discovery of your real passion. Although joining a club and interacting with strangers can be a little uncomfortable, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Being able to communicate and work with people of different backgrounds and personalities is an invaluable skill out in the “real world.” By creating goals and making the most of your time here, you’ll become a well-rounded candidate with a wide assortment of skills that employers will find impossible to ignore.

Read Emily’s other posts