THE COACH // JUNE RUSTIGAN ON GRADUATION DAY
The Coach is a monthly installment where we interview one expert on any given topic that relates to the pursuit of living a creative life. We welcome and encourage thoughtful discussion in the comments of this post.
Coach: June Rustigan, UCLA class of 2015
Topic: Transitioning from college graduate to working in a creative field.
Why: As millions of student have graduated or are preparing to graduate from college, the time can be filled with a roller coaster ride of emotions: Excitement, relief, anxiety, panic, optimism.
What made you want to live in LA?
I had the choice of staying in Northern California or coming down here for school, and it was a tough choice because staying close to home is always easier, but I knew I needed to experience life away from the comfort and familiarity of San Francisco. The LA I've come to know is so different than what I'd originally perceived, and I'm so glad I came here during my college years.
It wasn't really the sun, or the weather, or that attracted me (I don't mind rainy, foggy San Francisco at all), but the expanse of LA, and the freedom to explore a new city with so many cultural events and exhibits all the time.
So you really thrive in the creative scene here in LA...
You know as a student here I'm always surrounded by so many creative thinkers everyday. I'm really blown away by what I see my peers doing, whether its writing their own script, making video art, studying neuroscience. There are a lot of passionate, open people here in LA both inside and outside school, and I've just tried to surround myself with creative people, and learn from them!
I think if you're open to always learning and collaborating with other artists, you can thrive anywhere. I think if you're open to always learning and collaborating with other artists, you can thrive anywhere.
You studied Art and Culture on a Global Scale as a major. Was it what you expected as a major? Have you ever thought about doing anything else?
Yes, and no. When I first came here, I really questioned if the major was right for me, because it focused more on the study of art and culture, instead of art-making, which I wasn't sure about. But it's taught me so much about life, just in opening me up to different ways of thinking outside my own perspective, which is so valuable. And I've gotten to take a film-making class, where I made a short documentary with an LA based artist in the Arts District, which was so much fun, definitely one of my favorite classes here!
What is your ideal career after college?
After school, I kind of just want to be free to experience and experiment, and be open to whatever comes! I've always said that being a creative director or part of the team of a magazine/ publication would be my ideal job, and it still is, but I wouldn't mind taking a few detours along the way, like working for an art gallery, publishing house, or freelancing in film, writing, photography, etc. Definitely a job where I can somehow weave all these interests in is my dream job.
You have a pretty solid social media following, how has that impacted the way that you approach your future career?
It's funny, if anything it's taught me that you need to have so much skill and technique outside of what you show as a representation of yourself. I loved watching Raf Simon in Dior and I because he's this incredibly talented creative director, who couldn't care less about social media, but knows how vital it is today. He doesn't even want the camera on himself!
What I love about Instagram and blogging is that it's introduced me to so many similar people, a few who I actually call really close friends today. It's let me meet people with such incredibly similar interests as me, who live hours away, in different countries. even, and that's so incredible! But I want a career where I don't have the pressure to "keep up" with posting, where I can just take time to create. When I first started getting inquiries for collaborations from brands, that was also new and exciting, and now I'm able to reach out to brands that I really admire myself, so that's been fun. Definitely my mindset for social media is reaching out to individual people, and being inspired by others and inspiring, not the numbers, likes, statistics etc. I'm not really interested in that side of it. When I get a comment from someone I really admire on a photo, that in itself inspires me to keep going!
Reflecting back on your time in college, what has been the biggest lesson you've learned?
I've learned that it's so important to step away from yourself every so often, and "unlearn" what you think is right, like the "right" way to live, the "right" way to dress, etc. There have been so many times when I walked into class so wrapped up in everyday pressures, in my own mind, but when I left they felt so trivial, in comparison to the larger world. So definitely learning to unlearn, and also just to keep challenging myself to go out of my comfort zone with projects. That's something I'm still working on, hopefully forever.
What are some of the unique opportunities that you think are available to students who are graduating right now?
I think that now is the time to stop living such a linear life! There's no more set structure, of what comes next, it's so open-ended and that's what's so exciting and scary, the unknown future! So many people today have multiple skills they can apply, one of my friends is
majoring/minoring in three languages, and I have many friends majoring in science, but interested in art and design, it's great! I think these unconventional jobs are becoming more and more available, if you have the openness and creativity to give it a chance.
Do you have any fears about graduating or pursuing a career?
I had so much anxiety a few months ago. I'm sure anyone graduating goes through this - not knowing what city you'll end up in, what job you'll find, how you're going to make ends meet. Now, I've just let that go, and I'm feeling ready! I'm traveling around Europe this summer, then I'll start the job-hunt, so if anything I'm just excited for the future. And there's always the possibility of going back to school, but for now I'm ready to just live and experience the real world. I want to keep learning about everything around me, and being inside or outside of school doesn't change that!
Yes, at a certain point it definitely did, and I felt so consumed and overwhelmed by it too. But after a certain point, you realize that there is literally nothing you can do by worrying so much about the future- it's too draining. You just have to let go, and let yourself be vulnerable to whatever comes.
Any parting words?
So many people seem to think its all about grades, and how well you do in school, like your achievements define you but its so much more about how you can connect with other people in life, and how creative you can be in your thinking I think that leads to real success, or the kind of success I'm interested in.
What advice would you give to new graduates entering the creative work force?