In one week, I will officially be halfway to earning my master’s degree. A few weeks back, I met some amazing new incoming Bolzies at UW’s annual “On, Wisconsin” weekend. I couldn’t help but reflect on how exactly one year ago, I was in those same shoes, being rushed from classroom to classroom on an airtight schedule. In the past 365 days, I have accumulated quite the collection of experiences and knowledge including (but not limited to) the following: an uncanny knack of time management, a more succinct career path, an exciting summer internship, and relationships that will last far beyond this time next year when the class of 2014 will graduate.
I also leave the year with a fresh perspective on why the arts are important...and not just to musicians, educators, and season ticket holders. The arts are important because they build connections in places where commonalities seem nonexistent. My favorite example of this comes from an urban planning course that I recently finished. In a room filled with experts on transportation, public health, and urban revitalization, I quickly learned that the arts play a significant role in how cities are constructed and maintained. It was fascinating to speak with my colleagues about urban policy through the vantage point of an arts administrator. My takeaway from that course is a profound appreciation for the work that planners do on a daily basis. But I also learned what amazing things could be accomplished when the arts are given a seat at the table. From public health to urban development, there are countless examples of how the arts can influence the planning world. (Interested to know more? Stay tuned for my second-year thesis!)
Beyond the classroom, the arts also build connections between people. At this year’s annual Arts Showcase, people from many different MBA specializations (as well as some core faculty!) took the stage to show off their abilities. That night, Grainger Hall’s Capital Café transformed from being the place to pick up your third cup of coffee to a room infused with music, visual art, and support for fellow classmates. It is amazing that only one year ago, many of these classmates were complete strangers.
Looking toward the summer, I am excited to rejoin the working world with the knowledge that I gained over the past year. As an intern for the Chicago Humanities Festival, I eagerly anticipate using my new knowledge on marketing and data to assist with one of their research initiatives. I will also be connecting with former coworkers to do some copywriting, design, and branding work. And, of course, I look forward to returning to Grainger as a second-year MBA student and reconnecting with all of my classmates. Have a wonderful summer, everyone!