A Message to 2021 Graduates

(Photo by Diana Lambert)

During the course of this project, I was curious as to what advice my interviewees would give the Class of 2021 – those students, like myself, who have worked tirelessly the past four years and are finally on the brink of graduation, attempting to pursue their desired career while in the midst of a global pandemic, where a once bright-looking future is clouded over and unclear.

Their words, which you can find below, have given me a flicker of hope for the future.

I hope they do the same for you.

“It’s challenging, that’s for sure. If you’re going to get into the arts, it’s not because you want to be rich and famous. You get into the arts because you love the arts. Certainly with a little bit of luck and timing, you’ll have a career that you love doing, which for me has always been more important than a career where I can make the money.

People say if you love what you do you never work a day in your life. I think that’s appropriate to the arts. If you don’t love it, it’s too frustrating and too difficult to really stick to it.

But, if you love it, go for it.”

– Bill Brandenburg

“Go out and make the world a better place.”

– Bill Fennelly

“Don’t just sign up for an online internship because you think it’ll pad your resume. Do stuff that makes you happy, that you feel you can be successful in in the environment that we’re in for the next year. Listen really deeply to what you’re passionate about, what gets you excited in the morning.

You can’t be a great creative person if you don’t tend to what lights you up inside. You have to have something else. Otherwise, your self worth becomes defined by this thing that is now your job.

Take care of yourself.”

– Kate Bussert

“I think the most important thing for students and graduates is to take advantage of virtual offices. Stay on the grind! You actually have more opportunity than you think, you can apply for internships or jobs anywhere in the world. Just think about how awesome that is! Keep your eye out and take advantage of being able to learn from home.”

– Jenny Hossain

“Write out all your plans and how you plan on executing it and create a vision board. During these times where social media is a way of networking, do not be afraid to attend online conferences and meet people and build your network.”

– Shenna Somsmieh

“You are graduating during a moment of great upheaval in the entertainment industry and with that unrest comes the opportunity for tremendous innovation, reimagining and change. We hope you will dare to dream big and create and build the entertainment you believe the world needs.”

– Shelley Butler and West Hyler

“You just have to dive in. Keep honing your craft and studying. Reach out to people, ask to shadow or intern. It probably won’t get you your first gig, but it might help prepare you for that first gig, so that when you get it you can hang on to it. Being good natured gets you a long way. Being very prompt and being reliable, that’s where you develop your reputation.

Hang on to your college friends because they’re probably the ones who are going to help you get your first job. You all have had four years of experience with each other. They’re the ones who will help you and you will help them going forward.”

– Steve Holloway

“Do whatever you can to stay in the entertainment game. Focus on resume building. There should be a ton of hiring post-pandemic, but the bad news is the hundreds of thousands of people who have been furloughed and fired will be competing for every gig. So, getting any job is a good thing.

Enjoy college. I’ve had a great life since graduation but college still ranks as the best time of my life. Try to find as much joy now as possible.

Sacrifice for the future is way overrated.”

– Joe Somerville

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