Career Advancement, Graduate School, Opinions

Will an MFA help you succeed at work?

Photo credit: weinstock, Creative Commons/Pixabay

Photo credit: weinstock, Creative Commons/Pixabay

Many of us turn to graduate school when we want to advance our careers or give ourselves an edge in the job market. While it seems obvious to pursue an MBA, MPA, or MSW, would you ever consider an MFA (Master of Fine Arts)?

As the workforce changes—not only becoming younger, but also more fluid and constantly changing—the way employers look for talent may also be evolving, argued Steven Tepper, Associate Director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, in a Fast Company article last week.

Consider this: Today’s contingent economy has people moving constantly from one job to another, one type of work to another, one industry to a different industry. In fact, on average, a person between the ages of 25 and 45 will hold 11 different jobs in their lifetime. Thirty percent of us will work in more than 15 different jobs over the course of our careers.

Organizations far and wide–perhaps even yours–will compete intensely for workers who are adaptable, resourceful, and can quickly learn and apply new skills to a variety of challenges. Where can you find such workers?

One answer runs counter to much conventional wisdom: Ask an artist.

While Tepper does admit that art school is not going to replace business school, artists often are resourceful and adaptable, as many have spent time holding down more than one job, and they use skills including critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to work with others in their day-to-day work.

And while he is focusing on businesses, artists can help nonprofits by looking at problems through a different lens, teach and use improvisation to encourage all employees to think on their feet, and they understand how failure and ambiguity can play an important role in projects and innovation.

What do you think? How important is artistic creativity in the nonprofit world? How do you see the qualities of artists playing a role in work?

About Kimberly Maul

Social Media and Editorial Intern at Idealist.org