7 Tips for Getting Started in the Creative Arts

written by Georgia Schumacher 5 January 2015

ImageryThe New Year has officially arrived! There’s no better time to evaluate your current situation and set goals for the year ahead. If you’ve been dreaming about a career in the creative arts, make 2015 the year you turn your vision into a reality.

Use the following 7 tips to jumpstart your future in the creative arts this year.

1. Volunteer Your Time

Gain valuable experience and help out a great cause by volunteering your services to a charitable organization. Use the work you do for the charity to build your profile and establish a name for yourself. This is also a great way to make valuable connections that could help to advance your career.

2. Join Relevant Professional Associations

Many professional organizations offer discounted memberships to students, so this is your chance to start networking! Join as many relevant organizations as you can and attend their networking mixers, workshops, and other events to build your professional network.

3. Seek Internship Opportunities

An internship is a great way to gain on-the-job experience in your field. Some companies may pay you for your time, while others will not, but the chance to gain real-world experience that you can put on your resume is invaluable. Many companies even extend full-time job offers to interns that make a great impression! Current students can use our Career Resources to get started.

4. Find a Mentor

Is there a seasoned professional in your field that you really admire? If so, ask them to be your mentor. Meet with the person every opportunity you can learn more about becoming successful in the industry and gain useful insights on your work that can help to boost your career. Your mentor can also serve as a valuable connection during your job search.

5. Create a Robust Online Presence

Position yourself as an up-and-coming professional by maintaining a strong online presence. Create a personal website or online portfolio showcasing your work and your unique skillset. Make sure to include your contact information so it’s easy to get in touch with you. Use popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to market yourself and connect with other industry professionals. Students at any of The Art Institutes schools can use Behance to share their work – learn more here.

6. Tailor Applications to Fit Each Specific Job

Go the extra mile when applying for jobs or internships and customize your application to fit each specific position. Try to find the name of the hiring manager to personally address your cover letter, include the exact job title, and explain why your creative skills would be an asset to the organization.

7. Stay True to Yourself

It takes a lot of time and energy to build your personal brand, so don’t be afraid to turn down work that doesn’t align with your values. When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to take on any project you can get your hands on, but that isn’t necessarily the best approach. It may take a little longer to build the right client base, but patience is a virtue when your professional reputation is at stake.

Happy Holidays!

written by Georgia Schumacher 20 December 2014

Happy Holidays

From all of us at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division, we all wish you all a very happy holiday season with family, friends, and loved ones!

Current students, for information about how to participate in the Art Gives Back contest over the holidays, visit the Campus Common.

Top 5 Sites to Find Online Volunteering Opportunities

written by Editor Georgia Schumacher 16 December 2014

By Guest Blogger, Natalie Hruska, Ph.D.
Full-time Faculty, Web Design and Interactive Media

volunteer button

It is that time of year to not only celebrate, but do something for the greater good. Technology makes it much easier to volunteer today! In fact, you can do all of your volunteering from home. I have been volunteering my whole life, but when I discovered the option to volunteer online, I found I could do a lot more. I have built websites, done online research, consultation, and more, all from home! I recommend volunteering online to anyone. Not only is the experience rewarding for everyone involved, but can look great on a resume.

Non profit organizations are looking for people especially around this time of year, so be selective, and you can find the perfect position for you! Here are a few of my favorite websites I use to find out about volunteering opportunities. (For those of you who wish to volunteer in person, many of these sites can also help you locate volunteer opportunities in your community!)

Volunteer Match

To find online opportunities on this site, click on the link for ‘Volunteers’ and then ‘Virtual Opportunities’. Narrow your search using keywords. For example, I enter ‘Fashion’, and right away, I find an opportunity to volunteer for the Tails of Hope Foundation, Inc. as a writer with tasks like covering the K9 Macy’s fashion show. Interested in fashion? A position like this would be a great way to get your foot in the door!


On this website, start by clicking on the link for ‘Volunteer’. Then, to see all online positions, select ‘Remote’ for location. Filter more to a specific type of position using keywords. For example, I enter ‘marketing’, and I find an opportunity to help with social media for a non profit organization in California called Promote Sustainability. Tasks include managing Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks for the organization. A position like this could give you a great professional experience, with the added benefit of helping the environment!

UNV Online Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers Online Volunteering Service connects people to online volunteering positions around the world. Click on their link to ‘Opportunity Search’ and filter by language, position type, and development topic. For example, I filtered by ‘Design’, and then ‘Volunteerism’, and found position to design a Christmas Card for UN Volunteers in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Not only can you work from home, but this opportunity lets you retain rights to your design and credits you for your creative contribution. Work like this would be great for a graphic designer’s portfolio!

Help from Home

This website list micro volunteer opportunities in a variety of areas like community and peace. You can do interesting and creative tasks like sending eCards, playing games, tagging photos, sharing experiences though videos, and more. Just choose what you want to do, and how long you have to do it, whether for one minute or several hours. Depending on the time you put in, you can receive a badge to put on your resume. Studies show that people that volunteer (and put this experience on their resume) are more likely to get hired!

--Dr. Natalie Hruska, The Volunteering Guru

PS: Make sure to check us out in Connections—we are the Online Volunteers club. You can also email me at NHruska@aii.edu if you have any questions. Or, follow my Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/volunteeronline) where I post the latest online volunteering positions!

Mobile App Now on the App Store and Google Play

written by Georgia Schumacher 12 December 2014

Mobile AppThe Art Institutes now has a mobile app available on the App Store and Google Play!

The latest version of our app not only makes it easier than ever to access your classroom on the go, but also helps you to stay on top of important dates and information!

With this mobile app, you can:

• View current and past grades and classes.
• Check upcoming assignments and add them to your phone's calendar.
• See campus news or class announcements.
• Read and respond to discussion questions.
• Sign up for academic and financial reminders.
• Call or email important school contacts with one click.

To start using The Art Institutes app today, download the app to your device at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/art-institutes/id673233935?mt=8 or https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.artinstitutes.m&hl=en. When you first access the app, you’ll enter your username and password and then create a 4-digit PIN. After this initial use, you’ll only be required to enter your PIN.

Of course, our mobile won’t replace your computer, which you’ll still need to attend class and work on assignments, but it can be an extremely helpful back-up tool to have.

If you have any questions about our mobile app, please contact technicalsupport@aii.edu or download our Student Support Mobile App Guide [PDF].

9 Interview Questions You Can’t Afford to Answer Incorrectly

written by Georgia Schumacher 10 December 2014

Answering questions

In studying the creative arts, you may not have thought much about formal interviews. However, if you want to earn a living creating and working in your field, you'll need to be just as prepared as you would for any other career.

Know what common questions to expect and how best to answer them so that your personality and talent shines through. With a bit of preparation, you can look like a superstar in any interview and find the right organization for your artistic career goals.

1. Tell us about yourself.

With this likely being the most common interview question, your answer isn't the time for a full recounting of your life history. Focus on your craft, as that’s what the interviewer is interested in learning about. Briefly explain how long you’ve been an artist and share any artistic achievements relevant to the position.

2. What do you know about us?

This question is checking to see how much you prepared for the interview. You aren't expected to know every detail about the company or organization, but a basic understanding is necessary.

3. Why do you want to work here?

Answering "because I need a job" isn't what the interviewer is looking for. This question often follows the previous question. Convey your genuine interest in the company and explain why you believe your artistic skills would be a great fit for the organization. Explain your excitement at the thought of putting your creative talents to work for a company you truly believe in.

4. What are your strengths?

The interviewer wants to know your work-related strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to back up your strengths. If you call yourself a problem-solver, make sure you have an example in mind of a time you solved a important problem and how this impacted your project.

5. What are your weaknesses?

Be honest with your weaknesses, but also explain how you overcome them. If you explain that you're a perfectionist, explain how you don't let that keep you from meeting deadlines or performing your job.

6. Describe your creative process.

This behavioral interview question allows the interviewer to gain an understanding of your work style and to determine whether you would be a good fit for the company culture. Practice articulating your creative process so you can describe it in a brief, easy-to-understand manner. Remember, the company isn’t just interviewing you ─ you’re interviewing them to see if you would want to work there. Be honest about your true creative process, rather than saying what you think they want to hear, because you want a job where you have the freedom to express yourself.

7. What media or methodologies have you used or do you use?

You may be asked as a general question: What methodologies do you prefer to use? Or, you may be asked while looking at a piece from your portfolio: What medium did you use? Either way, keep your explanation simple and refrain from using technical jargon unless the person interviewing you is using it. This is often a way to assess your skills and understanding of specific techniques.

8. Describe your creative inspiration.

This is another commonly asked question that allows the interviewer to gain a deeper sense of your personal values, personality traits, and genuine passion for the job. You’ll make a great impression if you can explain with confidence exactly what inspires you to do your best work. However, if you appear stuck when trying to identify a solid reason you enjoy your craft, the interviewer may question your dedication.

9. What type of work have you done in the past?

An interviewer wants to know that you have the creative skills needed to produce top-quality work for the organization. For this line of work, it’s not enough to simply discuss your past achievements ─ you need to showcase your talents by bringing your portfolio along. If possible, include pieces in your portfolio that are relevant to the specific job, to prove you have what it takes to shine in the position.