What would you tell college students

My advice for those who leave college and start their careers, is to
have a saving account, and some kind of backup job. Also, take some
business courses, learn to live on very little so you can focus on
your new career, and network like crazy. My experience is that I
started my career in high school and was selling my work by the time
I got to college. During college, it was hard to be productive and
sell, while doing my metalwork and required projects. I knew I
wanted to teach, so I went straight for a MFA right after I got my
BFA. During all that time, I continued to make my production jewelry
work to sell and even participated in a local fair (biggest one in
NH). I did something I do NOT recommend- I applied to one undergrad
college, got in and went there. Same thing for grad school for I
applied to one college and got in, and went there. Grad school was
the best thing I could have done, for it set me on my career. In
today’s world, it won’t fly to apply to one college and expect to
get in. I only wish I had gotten some business training, and learned
to save a lot more than I did. That is my regrets. However, I’ve
managed to make a living at my jewelry and have done that since I
was 17. I’m celebrating my 30th year as a metalsmith. When I taught
BFA classes years ago, I did try to tell the students the truth of
life aftercollege, but do they listen, I have no idea. I do know
I’ve had a fair number of students who have gone on and be
successful as jewelers, so I know I did my job. Life teaches you and
you learn from that. Joy

Those of us here on this forum, who have been at this craft for many
years know what it takes to succeed.

Students just starting out can only have a very limited idea what
they have to do.

Assuming the course they have been on has equipped then for their
work, ie shown them what tools they need to succeed, and that
includes all the other skills apart from being able to make stuff,
there are 2 things all the interesting replies so far have not
mentioned is:-

  1. the ability to think.

Lets look at this a bit closer, If I had these students for a
morning, id show them an E African mixed metal bracelet.

I give them a hammer a file a pair of snips and a couple of pairs of
pliers some iron fence wire and some copper phone line plus a 1/2in
brass clibre cartridge case.

And say copy that.

We would soon see who had any ability to think let alone use these
tools or not. This is a skill than can be developed with regular
struggling of problems.

  1. Talent.

I often get asked " where did you learn to make your work?" The
answer is “nowhere”. And I add by asking a question back, where did
Mozart of Chopin learn to write their music? Likewise, the answer to
that question has to be “nowhere”, because it came from within

Some people have it, most do not. It will always show in the work,
look at all the great masters from the Rennaisance to the last
century, where craftsmens like Tiffany, Galle, W. Morris with
fabrics, Moucha with art prints, and so on, who all interpreted their
chosen medium in ways that broke new ground.

Plus they had the skills to implement their ideas.

Anyone can sit at a piano and bang the keys and make sound, but to
interpret an etude? How many years of practice does it take? so it
has to be with our jewellry student, its going to be a long hard
journey. Some will make it most do not. All we can do is point them
in the right direction and wish them well.