A few months ago, we hosted our first professional development event ,”How Do You Compare?” a resume building workshop led by Victoria Plettner-Saunders of Art Career Cafe. I thought it would be nice to hear a little more insight from Victoria, especially if you were unable to attend. Victoria and I engaged in this virtual conversation below. Hope you enjoy!- Malesha Taylor
M: Who are you? What is your life’s work and how does that inform your professional work?
V: I am a curious person who connects seemingly disparate people and things to create interesting outcomes. The curiosity and strong writing skills make me a good researcher; the connector enables me to cross pollinate people and ideas. I also believe that organizations and people are more productive when they have a plan that guides their forward motion. That’s how I built my career as an arts planning and research consultant and began my firm v.p.s. cartographie. I also believe that people are happiest when they feel they have value and are able to use their passions and skills to do meaningful work, and helping people navigate that, led me to the Art Career Cafe.
M: Why did you create Career Cafe? Why are you passionate about helping creative people work?
V: The Art Career Cafe is the cross pollination of all of the above. I’m from a creative, highly educated and artistic family. Although I have a degree in political science, I also have a masters in art education and arts management. I can’t imagine any other field in which to spend my life’s work. Creative people just make the world a more interesting place. The Cafe helps people put their skills and passions in the creative sector towards meaningful work. This is a mission driven start-up that was imagined during the recession when I too was out of work as a consultant. Necessity is the mother of invention and I created the job search website I wanted to use – one that is friendly, well-designed, highly diverse in its offerings – its multidisciplinary and crosses the public and private sectors. Its free for job seekers and the cost for an employer to post a job is crazy cheap and was based only on recouping my own costs for server space, web designers and my time.
M: What are the most important elements of a resume in the arts?
V: The most important thing you can do is tell your story honestly using plain English, little hyperbole, a clean font, simple formatting and your spell checker.
M: Do you recommend resumes that are detailed, more than two pages and include artwork, graphics, color?
V: No. See the answer above. Two pages max and only if you have a long work history, a lot of publications, exhibitions etc. Some may say otherwise, but I think artwork and graphics get in the way of the real message you should share – your professional story.
M: What did you most enjoy about the RALSD PD evening at LEARN?
V: I loved seeing so many new transplants to San Diego’s arts community. So often we can get insular and think that we don’t want people to leave or that new people coming in create competition for our jobs. That’s so wrong. We must allow people to make the professional choices they need to make and if it means leaving SD to find the next perfect job, or welcoming in new folks to take their place, we’re all better for it.
M: Anything you would like to highlight or elaborate on from the evening?
V: I had a great time and met some great young professionals. Would love to do it again.
M: What advice do you have for artists who would like to find an “arts job,” but don’t have the work experience? How does one “beef-up” or modify their resume for a job that they can do, but may lack some experience?
V: It’s not about beefing up or changing anything that would deviate from the truth. I do a lot of my work with people to help them figure out how what they do have experience in or skills that can be translated to the opportunity they are seeking. Never lie. Also, know where you are in your career and be there. So often people try to take leaps from one stage to another because they are impatient and then they are disappointed when they aren’t selected. Develop a plan for incremental steps up the ladder and then follow that plan. (See there I go being that planner again)
M: How was the Americans for the Arts Conference? What were some great “aha” moments you would like to share.
V: There are a lot of people looking for work and looking for a way to connect with one another – not really an “aha” but an affirmation that my work is on track.
Malesha Taylor is the Founder of Muse Salon Collaborative and an opera singer with San Diego Opera. She is also currently serving on the RALSD Steering Committee and the Co-Chair of the Marketing and Communications Committee.
Victoria Plettner-Saunders helps arts organizations and the creative people who run them know where they’ve been, where they’re going and how they are going to get there by providing navigational services -research, planning and strategy development – for the nonprofit arts and culture community.
Malesha Taylor, Founder Muse Salon Collaborative & RALSD Steering Committee
Victoria Plettner-Saunders, Creative Director, Art Career Cafe