3 Unexpected Lessons from my MAM Degree

3 Unexpected Lessons from my MAM Degree

Almost to the day, 2 years after my first class in the Master of Arts Management (MAM) program, I can remember the nervousness within my stomach as I entered my Accounting class. Considered for it’s dense readings, extensive papers, and terrible work-school-life balance; graduate school is a unique beast to conquer. Although I was not subjected to write a thesis, there were many worthwhile lessons in the MAM program at Columbia College Chicago. Many of which, were very unexpected yet refreshing. I was challenged as a young leader, adult, and industry changer. Here are my parting words of wisdom for you.

#1: You will actually form close relationships with classmates

This still baffles me that I became so close with my classmates in such a short period of time. I was warned of this happening, since day 1. At Admitted Student Day, the then second year MAM students mentioned how close their cohort had become. Not to say that all classes turn out this way, but be prepared to open up to others and lean on them for support. Whether you are entering the program with the intentions of making no new friends, you at least will have a strong network of like-minded individuals out there in the cold arts industry.

Some of the MAM ’17 cohort at Manifest Urban Arts Festival

#2: Off campus living is a lesson in itself

No matter how experienced you are at picking up and moving to a new city, you learn about yourself and others moving to Chicago. Determining the best neighborhood to live in, adjusting to the daily commute, and figuring out how to make money to support this all really teaches you discipline. You realize how dedicated you are once you begin to think creatively about making ends meet. Maybe this is a smooth transition for you? Maybe you landed the highly coveted merit scholarship? There will always be some sort of obstacle to consider.

As a graduate student, you will most likely want to live off campus. I spent my first semester in the University Center in an apartment with same-age undergraduate students. We got along and I learned the city without the hassle of housing details. Once I got a better understanding of what to expect, I branched out of the South Loop. My recommendation is to settle into a neighborhood right outside of the loop. Traffic is lighter and the commute is 30 minutes or less. Also, places that include utilities into the rent eases some of the headache of housing needs.

#3: This is truly training to be in management

Being a younger classmate in my cohort, I had a few insecurities about taking leadership in varying projects and such. However, the program was designed to push me to demonstrate my skills and lead a team of undergraduate students. In many of the practicum courses, graduate students are encouraged (or mandated) to take leadership on projects. Since I had a little more experience and leadership development than undergraduate students, I was placed in a more comfortable setting to grow as a manager. More importantly, by the end of the program I felt empowered to lead graduate students and beyond. Whether you believe that you have developed this skill fully or not, this program will encourage you to practice. Leadership is a key component for a successful arts manager and the cultivation of this soft skill is seamlessly integrated into the MAM program.

Creative Agency Practicum, Fall ’16

I entered the MAM program at Columbia College Chicago to boost my earning potential and to better prepare me for business ownership. Those objectives were easily met, but even more so, I found my place in the industry. Unlike a few of my classmates, I had no idea what I wanted to do after the program. I knew that I was interested in music, event management and live entertainment (non-music); but nothing specific. Upon graduation, I was able to accept the fact that I am very skilled in all these areas, which makes me marketable in many sectors of the industry. I hope that future MAM students will understand the depth and breadth of the program’s offerings. It allows for you to refine very distinct skills or sharpen your broader portfolio to be a well-rounded arts manager.

Thank you for following my journey as the MAM Graduate Ambassador. I hope that my posts have been enlightening and inspiring. Good luck!

Most of the MAM ’17 cohort right before graduation