Everyone needs career advice, even folks who want to make it in the art world. Here The Guardian‘s counselor helps out a frustrated world citizen:
How does a passionate, experienced foreigner crack the art world?
Question: I have a “problem”: a passion for contemporary art. Since I graduated abroad in 2005, choosing an MA in contemporary art equivalent to the UK ones, I worked as PA to gallery directors and to an established artist, gaining relevant administrative and managerial experience. I then decided to move to London, confident that my experience would count for something.
Apparently, I was wrong: I made countless applications for a PA role to galleries, art societies and art dealers, and was once clearly discriminated against because I am not a native English speaker. Worse, I cannot apply for internships now because I am overqualified. That’s my problem, basically. I am not only a foreigner who wishes to stay, but who also needs money to do so. I also do not know people in the art world here who can recommend me.
I understand that I have chosen a difficult field but I am determined to break through. Am I being rejected because they don’t trust my English over the phone? Because all my working experience was gained abroad? Or because I am just a nobody who doesn’t have a relevant mailing list to share for the sales?
(The answer after the jump.)
Jeremy: Hang on to that passion. Don’t let that determination waver. And fight any feeling that you’re the victim of some conspiracy: you’re not. It’s just that, for every job for which you’ve applied there have been many candidates – and so far you’ve not been selected. The reasons will have varied.
Try turning the language question on its head. English is not your first native language – but another language is, though you seem not to value it much. However, the world of contemporary art is an international one. Somewhere in this country there will be dealers, artists, agents and galleries who want to do more business with your native country. There may not be many – but you don’t need many. To them, your first language will be not a handicap but a distinguishing asset. So research relentlessly, lead with your first language, your homeland contacts and your passion – and you’ll certainly greatly improve your chances. Once you’ve cracked that first job, the next will come easier.