The path that Katie Scarlett Strickland, Columbia College Chicago ’16 (double major!), is seen walking on in the photo above is not a paved, straight-lined path. Much like the experience of going from undergraduate studies to a degree, it’s full of obstacles and navigation challenges.
So how does a student make the path clearer and gain the confidence to walk it? We asked Scarlett to share her experiences with her previous on-campus jobs and off-campus internships to find out. Read her responses below to discover how something she hadn’t originally considered helped her find her way to her current position with Candace Gelman and Associates.
How did an internship or on-campus job help prepare you for your first job after graduation?
Where do I even start? I was lucky enough to have two on-campus jobs simultaneously while working my senior year. Both at Services for Students with Disabilities and Residence Life. These opportunities gave me a grand perspective on the importance of teamwork and collaboration. It also introduced me to new skills such as critical thinking and time management—two things that employers (to this day) have continuously stated they value in my work strategy. It also just gave me a team and support system to feel grounded in during the chaos that was senior year. It was good to have a degree of separation from photography when that graduation/finals week meltdown started to happen.
My senior internship was at RAD Represents (all thanks to a Columbia faculty member who recommended me for the position!) This internship opened my eyes to an entirely new side of photography that I had never considered as a career. In addition, I made wonderful and lifelong connections in the industry that (to this day) have been a major contributor to any career success I had post-college. I was hired on at RAD after graduation! So overall, absolutely beneficial to my first job post-grad. I think there’s something to say about the relationship between post-graduation success and the students who fully taking advantage of everything Columbia has to offer.
How did you find your current position?
I am currently working at Candace Gelman & Associates where we represent some amazing photographers such as Marcus Smith, Zach Anderson, Sandro, Paul Elledge & The Voorhes. I found the job through Melissa Hennessy in the Career Center —which I think really goes to show how important it is to form good relationships with Columbia faculty and staff.
What do you love about your job?
I get to spend my entire life getting paid to talk about how fantastic other photographers are! Could I even ask for a cooler job? The answer is absolutely not. The best part is, during my time at these agencies, I’ve gotten to be a part of really amazing productions in a variety of ways for clients such as The New York Times, Kraft Cheese, Nike and more. Seriously, that’s such an amazing learning opportunity.
What advice do you have for senior students?
THE PEERS IN YOUR FIELD ARE NOT YOUR COMPETITION (Now say it louder for the people in the back!) I mean, to an extent they are. But in all honesty, they are your BIGGEST advocates and support system. It’s so easy in your senior year to get caught up in all the competition in the air when it comes to job hunting. When all is said and done, some of you will be working in a variety of areas in the field and will need to call upon each other for potential opportunities. It’s very unlikely that someone is going to recommend work to another person that they have a negative memory of. Being humble, kind and honest in the field is just so important, but often not stressed enough. Plus, your peers are the only people who will understand why you can’t look at a billboard and feel a little stressed out by the typeface! So keep those people around you close because your industry might make you go a little crazy at times!
Get social with Scarlett:
LinkedIN: Katie Scarlett