Spotlight Interview: Kim Korzen

Kim Korzen: Major Gifts & Planned Giving Coordinator at North Carolina Symphony

Raleigh, NC

WFU Class of 2016

Major: Sociology

Minor: Dance

Kim-Korzen.jpg

Kim Korzen shares on the journey to her present development role at Raleigh’s North Carolina Symphony. We learned about the robust performing arts scene in the Triangle, and pick up valuable tips for networking and post-grad life prep.

DeacLink: What did you study while you were at Wake?

Kim Korzen: I majored in Sociology and minored in Dance. I also took classes in many other subjects to fulfill requirements, of course, and I took some Spanish courses and studied abroad in Chile.

DL: Since you’ve graduated, how has your career unfolded? Can you walk me through your path from graduation day to your current job?

KK: I took my dream internship after graduation with the American Dance Festival in Durham, working in the Performances department, which primarily handled logistics for visiting artists. About a month after that concluded, I started working as the Engagement and Artistic Coordinator at Carolina Performing Arts, which is UNC Chapel Hill’s presenting organization. I was at CPA from September 2016 - December 2018. Now, as of January 2019, I am the Major Gifts and Planned Giving Coordinator at the North Carolina Symphony. I have been happy with how my career has unfolded so far!

DL: How did you find and apply to the various positions you’ve held?

KK: I think I noticed the ADF internships for the first time in the summer of 2015 when I was looking at their upcoming performances on their website. I couldn't apply for the internship at the time because I was studying abroad during part of the internship, but I made a note to apply for it the next summer. I saw the CPA job initially on Twitter - an organization called Triangle ArtWorks in the area tweets out jobs periodically. For the North Carolina Symphony, I found the job on Indeed.

DL: What made you want to go into development, and what advice do you have for readers interested in breaking into the fundraising space?

KK: My position at Carolina Performing Arts involved helping with grants-funded projects, and I really enjoyed that aspect. It made me realize that I wanted to move into philanthropy. I love that fundraising involves many different types of work - like storytelling, data management, relationship building, and event planning. I like all the components, and I also like doing work that is so vital to organizations.

My biggest advice would be to not underestimate the value of the transferable skills you have. Though I did not have fundraising experience before beginning my current position, I had gained all the skills listed in the job description in other ways. The trick is being able to make those connections for your potential employer in your cover letter and interviews, and finding an employer that will understand your experience. I think my transition into philanthropy was made easier by staying in the arts, because my interviewers understood the work I had been doing. In addition, I sought out the advice of two former coworkers in philanthropy - my boss from ADF, who also broke into fundraising from working in the performances side of things, and the former grants manager at CPA who I’d worked with on multiple projects. They both were very helpful in speaking with me about their experience in philanthropy, highlighting for me how to discuss my transferable experience, and generally being encouraging. I also used them as my references, which was very helpful. So, I’d advise people to seek out mentors in the field, either in your colleagues or former colleagues, or through volunteering, who will be able to help prepare you as you apply for jobs, and also advocate for you.

DL: What is your favorite part about your job?

KK: I have been really touched by the deep connections that people have with the Symphony, and have enjoyed learning about longtime donors’ history with the organization from working in the philanthropy team. Because the Symphony was founded in 1932, many donors have grown up going to the Symphony, or remember seeing it as a student. One woman who is a donor mentioned in a note recently that her and her husband’s first date was to a North Carolina Symphony concert. I find those sorts of life-long connections really meaningful and motivating.

DL: What do you think Wake could have done better to prepare students for life after graduation?

KK: This might be a bit tangential, but honestly I think allowing students to live off campus more would be very helpful in preparing students for life after graduation. My scholarship came with the caveat that I could not live off campus at all, and of course all students had to live on campus for three years. I think that this leads to a bubble-like environment, which does hinder students from making more strides towards “adult” life.

DL: What attracted you to Raleigh, and what’s kept you there?

KK: I moved to Raleigh to be with my now fiance, who was finishing up his undergraduate degree at NC State. We’ve stayed because we’ve built a life here - we have great friends, are happy with our careers, and are regularly rock climb at the gym nearby. I’m also happy to stay because there are lots of fun things to do in the Triangle, between performances, restaurants, special events, parks, etc. I feel like I have plenty more exploring to do. In fact, I got a bike this past winter that I’m looking forward to taking further and further - and also commuting on regularly. I found a dance class I love too, which is key.

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

KK: Take the time to find things you enjoy doing professionally and personally - and if somethings not working for you, cut it out, and start looking for new opportunities if needed. And just breathe - the less stressed you are, the better you’ll feel, and the better work you’ll do (in your profession, and in anything else you want to pursue.)

Spotlight Interview: Anna Raines King

Anna Raines King: Architect & Entrepreneur

Beaufort, North Carolina

WFU Class of 2010

Major: Art History

Minor: Studio Art

Anna Raines King is a fantastic example of pursuing one's passions whilst making a difference. The Co-Founder of the eco-conscious architecture firm 2Kings explains how her career has taken shape since leaving the Forest.

 

DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Anna Raines King: I graduated Cum Laude in 2010 with a major in Art History and a minor in Studio Art. At that time, I planned to complete an MFA in printmaking, so I began to apply to graduate schools; meanwhile, I worked part time as a studio assistant for Professor David Faber. However, during that year I decided on a different career path. Having worked throughout high school and college for an architecture firm, Owen Architecture, in Winston-Salem, I realized that architecture would be a good fit for my both my art history and studio art interests and abilities. I entered UNC Charlotte’s Masters in Architecture and graduated with Honors in 2014.  

During graduate school, I cast a pretty wide net. I sought out design studios taught by practicing architects. I took interdisciplinary classes in Urban Design, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and real estate development. My thesis focused on the occupation of public space and architecture; more specifically, how spatial occupation, manifested as demonstrations as acts of protest, and the appropriation of public space in contemporary protest culture, relate to and physically alter the architectural and urban environment(s).

 

DL: Would you mind telling me more about 2Kings?

AK: I met David King, who’s now my husband, in architecture school. He, too,  was working on an interdisciplinary thesis. Although by the time we graduated the economy had improved, the field of architecture was-- and still is--  experiencing a period of fluctuation. The field is navigating new relationships with technology, computing, and the licensure process. The large firms that were hiring in 2014  were not what we were looking for.  We chose to found our own design-build firm at the end of school as an intellectual exercise, and it quickly became our full time job. We have an unlimited general contractor's license as well as our real estate brokers license. Our passion is responsible coastal development - our clients are mainly high-end residential; however, we also partner with other professionals in both the public and private sectors on pocket parks, temporary installations, and redevelopment projects. Currently, we are in the midst of town approvals for our first low impact development in a neighboring town.

 

DL: How did your time at Wake inform your career path?

AK: This was an amazing time to be at Wake Forest! Students in the business world and the art world intermixed! The newly created Entrepreneurship minor was cross-listed with the Art Department, and that interdisciplinary approach facilitated, for example, the creation of the START gallery in Reynolda Village -- a student-run gallery where art classes could exhibit and sell their work. Professors like Jan Detter and Lynn Book were extremely dedicated to helping students develop their own “kit-of-parts” needed to navigate future careers in creative fields. The successful realization of an idea relies on a donor, a grant, a kick-starter or a residency program, etc and, the “kit” developed in those classes is what I relied on to navigate the practical realities of finding success in a creative field.

 

DL: Architecture and design seem to be  popular career paths for art alums despite the fact there are no real programs for this at Wake. How did you know this is what you wanted to do? What’s the hardest part about breaking into the field?

AK: To answer the first part of your question-- In addition to my work with Owen Architecture in Winston-Salem I took advantage of as many arts-related opportunities as possible at Wake Forest outside of the required curriculum. The summer of my sophomore year I interned at the Westminster Archive Center in London, England through a joint internship placement program with Wake Forest and Boston University. There I helped examine the physical condition of newly acquired documents and collections to develop basic working database for conservation and preservation. The next summer I was awarded a 10-week, $4500 stipend for a scholarly research collaboration through the Research Fellows Program with Professor Harry Titus in Paris, France.  Professor Titus helped guide my research in the advancements and problems of architectural vocabulary within revival-style church building in Second Empire Paris, as well as its significance within a broader context of modern art and architecture.  During the school year I worked for 3 to 4 Ounces, the student art and literary magazine, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. My senior year I chaired the Media Board, which oversees all seven of the student publications and media organizations. Taken as a whole, my experiences in each of these various paths during my time at Wake Forest allowed me to confidently choose a career path upon graduating.

To answer the second part of your question-- In architecture, one of the most difficult challenges to breaking into the field is that you need life experience. Architecture professors will say “Architecture is an old man’s game.” An accumulation of knowledge --building codes, materials, budget timelines, best practices and public/private partnerships- is necessary in the field.  And that takes a lot of time to learn.  For recent graduates, this can be frustrating. Additionally, architecture has been primarily a “man’s game” and so there is that aspect of being a female architect and outside the norm.  

 

DL: How do you like living in North Carolina? What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career outside of a major arts hub?

AK: There are pluses and minuses. Because we live in a coastal area, with a small year round population, access to resources such as print labs and fabricators is challenging. On the positive side, we are influencing and changing the built environment in a way we couldn't in a larger city. Fortunately, we have the fastest internet in our town, and with cloud-based technology we can connect to a larger community via the internet.

David and I are passionate about climate change and sea level rise, and what it is going to mean to live on the coast in 10-100 years.  Few coastal communities have the architects and other resources like those available to the coasts of New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy. On a personal level, it is important to us to know that we will be here in this community and will be able to help with the imminent climate effects.

 

DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

AK: The existence of cross disciplinary experiences is good. However, the school needs to continue to provide a variety of experiences beyond the classroom.Taking advantage of off-campus opportunities in Winston-Salem and in Europe made a big difference for me. Having the ability to take risks, especially formative ones in a low risk environment, in college is so important. The arts world can be harsh. Having that confidence gained through experience and support through people that believe in you is something that you can draw on when times are tough.

 

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

AK: In the greater world, the arts field tends to be undervalued. This shows up in the idea that creatives should intern or work for free for years or charge less for the service they provide. This type of thinking undercuts the importance of the art field. So my best advice would be to value yourself and your abilities. Recognize that what you offer is as important as other fields. You can’t expect others to value you if you don’t value yourself.

 

Check out the 2Kings website here

Spotlight Interview: Robert Cox

Robert Cox: Former Architect, Robert A.M. Stern Architects

New York City

WFU Class of 2009

Major: Art History

Minor: Studio Art

North Carolina native Robert Cox made a point of pursuing architecture from his first year at Wake Forest. Building a strong foundation in historical knowledge, Robert honed his creative style through Studio courses and summers abroad on architecture-focused Richter Scholarship travels. We spoke with Robert to learn more about his path into architecture.

*At the time of the interview (02/2017), Cox was with Robert A.M. Stern Architects in New York.

 

DeacLink: What are you currently doing at work?

Robert Cox: I have been working at a firm called Robert A.M. Stern Architects  for almost four years now. It’s a medium-size office with a broad scope of residential, commercial, and institutional buildings (including the new business school at Wake Forest). I worked for two years on a multi-family residential project in New York, and then transitioned about a year ago to another part of the office, focusing on single family homes.

 

DL: Take us through your journey to your current occupation since graduating from Wake.

RC: I graduted from Wake in 2009 with an Art History major and a Studio Art minor, then took a year off in my hometown of Asheboro, NC to work on my portfolio and apply to grad schools. I was accepted to Columbia's architecture program, and moved to New York in the fall of 2010. After three years of school and a summer of job hunting, I started by current job at RAMSA.

 

DL: Was Columbia your primary focus while selecting a graduate program?

RC: I actually cast a wide net. Because I didn’t have any previous architecture experience, I compiled a portfolio of drawing, photography, and even a little creative writing. I tried to make it speak to my interests and creative pursuits, and hoped that that would resonate with the right school.

 

DL: How much did your time at Wake inform or drive your career path?

RC: I had always thought I’d go into architecture, but Wake Forest was a place where I could get a liberal arts education first, before getting into this very specialized discipline. I think my time at Wake studying architectural history helped confirm for me what I wanted. Spending that time broadening my base knowledge was definitely worthwhile.

 

DL: oming out of your artistic training at Wake, did you feel prepared for life after graduation?

RC: I think, specifically for architecture, I probably could’ve gotten better at digital design tools before starting school. Learning more about 3D modeling, for example, would’ve been a great head start. My first year of architecture school, I was trying to design buildings and learn software at the same time, when I should’ve just been focusing on design. So my advice to anyone going into architecture school: download or find school resources for software, and practice! 

 

DL: rior to what you’re doing now, what other sorts of jobs have you had? How did you find and apply to them?

RC: or better or worse, I spent my summers exploring. I took advantage of being a young college student, rather than piling on office experience. The summer of 2008, between my junior and senior year, I studied (with Wake’s help!) in Jamaica and in Italy through two different programs. In Jamaica, I joined UVA’s architecture school in their historic preservation field school, which was very cool. After that, I traveled to Rome on the Richter grant, completing an individual study of contemporary religious architecture in Italy.

 

DL: What’s the hardest part about breaking into your field?

RC: I was applying for jobs during the lingering aftermath of 2008, so hiring was just beginning to pick back up in the architecture world. There were more architects than there were positions, so it took me a while. Having a degree from a well-known program like Columbia helped for sure, but it was also an expensive degree -- which doesn’t always compare well with an architect’s salary. So, coming from a good school is great for getting hired, but you have to be willing to pay for it (or hustle hard for that scholarship).

 

DL: How do you like living and working in NYC? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move there?

RC: I’ve been here six years. I was never one of those people completely enthralled by the city, but I wasn’t hating every minute, either. You meet both types here. The best advice I have is to show up ready for things to be different from just about anywhere else in the US. Be ready to go with the frenetic flow, and try to love New York even when it’s not loving you back.

 

DL: hat has surprised you the most about the art scene in New York?

RC: I actually live very close to the West Chelsea gallery streets, so I often walk down there on Saturday mornings to get coffee and check things out. It’s been one of the most specifically New York things that I’ve gotten to experience here. There’s a constant rotation of new and exciting art, free and open to the public.

 

DL: What and where is next for you?

RC: I’ll stay at my current job for the time being. I still have lots to learn, and I’m enjoying my work. The biggest thing for me next is the completion of a book I’m writing/illustrating… that’s coming down the line, hopefully soon.

 

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on, or currently go by?

RC: I have the tendency to get pretty zoomed in on my work and stay there. And I think one thing I’ve learned that’s worthwhile: periodically take a step back and look at the big picture, and see how everything fits together.