Finding a job after college can be difficult, especially for those who are looking for a position in the arts, but the Stony Brook University Orchestra’s conductor Susan Deaver is proof that it can be done.
Before she came to conduct the SBU Orchestra in 2000, Deaver received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate in musical arts at the Manhattan School of Music and was planning to use those degrees for teaching music.
“When I was doing my undergraduate work, I was already working,” Deaver said. “There were all of these little music jobs. I got hired to teach flute at two different places, one in Brooklyn and one in Westchester.”
Just before graduating from the Manhattan School of Music, she prepared for auditions by conducting mock performances in front of others.
“If you’re preparing for a teaching job, you might teach a mock lesson in front of people so they could see how you teach,” Deaver said.
During her search for jobs in the music industry, she said she experienced performance anxiety and would prepare for auditions.
“Performance anxiety is for anybody looking for a job,” Deaver said. “You have to learn to work with your own system and keeping yourself really calm and focused. You have to be prepared.”
Deaver also had to prepare for other job interviews in her field, some of which included flute auditions, where she recorded herself playing for the employers.
In addition, she had to build two resumes – one was for performances and the other was for conducting and education.
Her job search and practices landed her positions with groups like the Washington Chamber Symphony, the Bronx Opera Chamber Orchestra and the LIU Post Percussion Ensemble, all of which led to her four teaching jobs that she currently has today at LIU Post, the Manhattan School of Music Precollege, the Long Island Youth Orchestra and Stony Brook.
“There are periods of time where you just feel like you’re at a plateau and then suddenly there will be a breakthrough and you’ll get called for something,” Deaver said.
Deaver had been conducting since 1981 when her passion for music grew. She started studying conducting privately and also attended conducting master classes at Tanglewood, a music venue in western Massachusetts, and in Germany.
“When I’d be rehearsing in orchestras I would take a music score with me and if the conductor was working with the strings, I would look at the score to see what was going on and I would study the scores,” Deaver said.
“I got very interested in orchestra music since I was 19 when I went to music camp,” Deaver said. “The way that I got into conducting was that I was playing with this chamber group and there was this one piece by Aaron Copland and there was no flute part and they had trouble keeping it all together. So, they all pointed to me and said, ‘Come and conduct this,’ and I did well.”
Susan Deaver had to go through many rehearsals, practices and auditions in order to get where is today and she proves that finding work in the arts after college can be done.
Last week I sat in my dorm room, nibbling on Wheat Thins and staring at my computer debating which account I should check first: the balance left on my meal plan or the balance left in my bank account. In the end, I chose ignorance. I closed my laptop, ate the rest of my Wheat Thins and called it lunch.
I feel like there is a point like this for every student in the semester. A point where it pains you to see how low that seemingly infinite meal plan has gotten, or how quickly you blew through that last paycheck. A point where plowing through a box of CVS Wheat Thins is more affordable than going out to eat.
In hopes of avoiding chips for lunch for the rest of the semester, I began thinking of ways to change up my budgeting and improve my spending habits. While there are a number of things you can try out to save money while living on campus, here are eight tricks that you can try out:
Cut the coffee: It pains me to say it, but cut down on the Starbucks. Not all Starbucks drinks are unbearable on the wallet; for example, a grande black coffee is only $2.10. But when you start splurging on those $4.45 grande frappucinos daily, something has to change.
Set up a carpool: If you’re a commuter, try setting up a carpool with nearby friends to campus. If you live on campus, find friends with cars that could drive you to get groceries, clothes and other commodities off campus for a lower price. If you have a car on campus, set up a system with friends so each person takes turns driving others around. It saves money on gas, and who doesn’t love a sing-a-long buddy in the car?
Budgets baby: It’s college, and emergency wine nights are going to happen. Which is completely okay, as long as you plan for it. Set aside a certain amount of “treat yo ’self” moola for each week and work around that number. Some weeks you might be under budget, and you can roll it over into future weeks. Or maybe an unexpectedly bad midterm leads to a spontaneous trip down port, and now you’re a little behind. It’s okay, as long as you’re watching your payments and keeping track of your spending.
Make a change jar: It’s a small gesture, but keep throwing your pocket pennies and found change from the dryer in there and you’ll have a free Bagel Express meal in no time.
Meal prep in your room: No worries, you don’t need to live in a cooking building to do some meal prepping. Take an hour or two out of your Sunday and prep some sandwiches or easy pasta for lunch a few times a week. It may not seem like much, but removing one meal a week from your meal plan will save a lot of money.
Make use of the free events: You don’t need to go off campus to have a fun date night or night out with friends. Stony Brook has a lot of fun and free events on campus each month that you can try. Go see a show by the Stony Brook symphony orchestra, attend a movie night at Staller or go to one of the ever popular paint nights. If you’re a gym bug, grab a friend and try one of the Rec Center’s gym classes, or de-stress with one of the Rec’s yoga sessions.
Nature is free, bruh: Just a mile walk away, accessible via a path behind West Apartments, is Avalon Park. It’s a nature preserve, with gorgeous scenery, intriguing stone labyrinths and pathways to stroll through. It’s a great place for a date, or just a day off from studying.
Keep trying new things: In the end, the best way to save money is to try new things and see what system works for you. Just be smart about your savings, don’t splurge on Starbucks eight times a day like I do, and you’ll be just fine.
Getting punched in the face wasn’t part of the job description.
Then again, not a lot of things I did that summer were.
My attacker was a 10-year-old girl named Sarah, whose mother dropped her off at the library before heading off to work every day. A blithe and mischievous spirit, she had a love of pop culture and a distaste for authority that made her just as difficult to deal with as the mountains of books in need of sorting and shelving. That day, we had gotten into an argument over why I was able to tell her what to do, since she said I was “just a librarian” and that she could “beat me up until I cried like a baby.” While cleaning up after the mess left behind from crafting a butterfly-shaped collage, I half-heartedly told her to try. Of course, I underestimated the juvenile audacity of this girl who I practically babysat, and thus she wholeheartedly delivered a right hook when I least expected it.
This was just one of many eventful days I had working at my local public library. To be honest, there’s a lot that you don’t expect while working as an assistant librarian. For me, this was only exacerbated by the fact that this was my first real job, as all of my previous library work had been restricted to volunteer work at my school libraries.
But contrary to what you might think, there’s a lot to learn when you’re working at the library. Like those working in retail, librarians have to deal with dozens, if not hundreds of customers a day. They’ll ask if we have the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, where the bathrooms are, how to use the computers, and a million other things that you’re expected to have the answers to. To get to as many as possible, I had to learn to answer them quickly and succinctly, which involves knowing where virtually everything is. Origami books can be found anywhere between section 736 and 740.29, the popular books are lined up alphabetically by the conference room on the first floor, and biographies have their own section in the corner of the library by the CDs. Reciting information like this on a dime quickly becomes routine, but even then I had to get used to communicating with those who aren’t fluent in English. You have to watch your tone when speaking as well, as your supervisors, co-workers, and your customers will all react differently to what you say and do. Let’s just say that there are consequences if you don’t, as Sarah was happy to prove to me.
This job will also try your patience and self-control at every turn. While helping to manage the summer arts and crafts program that was running at the time, I was dealing with anywhere between 40 and 120 children at once, all armed with glue, markers, bits of paper, and their own voices. Three days a week, the library would be converted from a quiet sanctuary into a cacophonous circus where the ringleaders are just barely in control. I’ve had to deal with kids playing tag inside the library, customers who babble endlessly while trying to figure out what they’re looking for and the endless rows of books in need of being straightened again after looking away for just a few minutes.
There are also plenty of other tasks that need to be performed aside from shelving books and making arts and crafts though. Cleaning the art gallery and making laminate name tags for the displays, setting up online accounts to help parents and children track their reading, decorating the walls with giant paper snakes, and taking calls regarding book reservations and our weekly events, especially the ever-popular movie night. I’ve even thrown birthday parties for my co-workers and some of the regulars, music, cake and all. You’re always moving, always taking new requests from rowdy runts, concerned parents and demanding bosses. This is not a job where you can just sit around and do nothing, but that makes your paycheck all the more satisfying after a long day’s work.
It’s natural for students like us to look for more “exciting” and “impactful” jobs in science research, engineering and other rapidly growing fields. After all, it’s what our esteemed university is famous for. But there are plenty of practical skills you can learn at any job you take up, even at institutions that are a little more mundane than what you’re aspiring to be. Try taking up one at the library. Despite appearances, there’s plenty you’ll take away from it and I can assure you, it’s never boring.
Stony Brook Football was getting ready to fly up to Maine for a game that weekend. The team lugged several trunks filled with extra uniforms, helmets, cold weather gear, tape for trainers — the standard haul for a road game.
But the team was to fly on a smaller plane than they are accustomed to and would therefore not take all the trunks that they typically travel with. With their flight leaving soon, the athletics equipment department needed to find a solution immediately. In a display of quick thinking, Enzo Zucconi, director of equipment operations at Stony Brook University, decided to ditch the trunks at the airport and squeeze everything into garbage bags.
As per usual, Athletics’ unsung hero came through in the clutch.
The Stony Brook Athletics equipment management department is “putting out fires everyday” and Zucconi is right at the center, extinguishing each one. “You must be able to think on your feet,” he said.
Zucconi, an upbeat and outgoing Italian American, has held his position since June 2016. Before his Stony Brook stint, he served at Columbia’s equivalent position for 16 years. As the director of equipment operations, Zucconi is responsible for designing attire, ordering equipment, cleaning uniforms and ensuring that equipment is safe for athletic use.
However, he brings more to the position than just dealing with equipment. His jokes and upbeat personality have become contagious throughout Stony Brook Athletics and are sure to serve as a locker room moral boost. Robert Schultz, the assistant director of equipment operations, has worked hands on with Enzo for the past five months.
“He’ll sing to himself and then we will throw out a random band he never heard of. He told us he went to a Fall Out Boy concert and he started singing,” Schultz said about Zucconi, who speaks with a thick Long Island accent. “But it didn’t sound like Fall Out Boy to me.”
He takes great pride in treating every Stony Brook athlete the same. It does not matter if they are garnering national attention or if they play doubles on the tennis team; they are all getting bombarded by an equal amount of Enzo’s jokes while he assists them.
“We are working with young adults here. They are all positive, all upbeat. It is kind of contagious,” Zucconi said. “I feed off their enthusiasm and they sometimes feed off of mine.”
Zucconi recognizes that the pressure to win will inevitably breed stress and head-butting for student-athletes and coaches. That is why he aims to make the equipment room a haven where coaches and players can stop in at anytime to chat or blow off steam.
“I have the couch down here, the rocking chair, because I want coaches to come down here and shoot the breeze a little bit,” Zucconi said. “Not even talk about sports. We talk about the game last night, we talk about our kids or what we did over vacation.”
He claims that Stony Brook Men’s Lacrosse coach Jim Nagle and Women’s Basketball assistant coach Dan Rickard, among others, will routinely stop by to take a breather from the day and even see what lays within Enzo’s candy bowl.
“I’m always down there. He always has something good, but it’s not just the candy bowl,” Rickard said. “He is like a psychologist, too. You can sit down and get a little mental break and he just always has something positive to say.”
Jason Headman, the assistant coach for the men’s and women’s cross country and track teams, will even stop by the equipment room and put in some work helping the staff if it means kicking back with Enzo. The Athletics family had nothing but kind words to say about him and the job he does.
“No one really understands the passion he has for the athletics deptartment in making sure that athletes are feeling good,” Rickard said. “It starts by making sure you look good and that’s a goal for him.”
You know them as the people who stand in front of the classroom, but did you know most of your professors are published writers?
When they’re not grading your papers or preparing you for your future studies and career, you can expect your professors to be doing research, writing papers and crafting books based on their research and analyses.
Five professors at Stony Brook explained what they do, what motivates them and how they find a creative balance between their writing, research and teaching.
Celia Marshik, Ph.D., academic chair and professor in the English department, teaches and writes scholarly books on the culture and literature of the early twentieth century.
“Some semesters make sustained writing impossible — I may be able to work at it for a week or so, but then all bets are off,” Marshik said, adding that when she finds that balance, she tends to write during the mornings for about 30 minutes to an hour for the majority of the week.
Marshik said that she can almost always find some time for writing and keep up her creative progress. This allows her to have a proper balance between her writing and her role as a professor. As rigorous as it is, her love for teaching literature and for contributing to discussions based on her field of study keeps her motivated to continue writing, researching and teaching.
For Wolf Schäfer, Ph.D., a professor of history and science and technology, most of his time is currently consumed by doing research. Schäfer came to the U.S. from Germany in 1989 and he has been teaching at Stony Brook for 28 years. He is currently dedicating all of his time to his most recent project, a book with the working title “Dark Words Plus Winds of Change,” which will answer the question, “How did Donald Trump win the election?” When asked how much time it takes out of his schedule, he stated, “All the time when I am not teaching, and half the time when I am teaching.”
Schäfer said that he balances his research and teaching evenly while engaged in both, but is currently dedicating his time to research. After about four decades of publishing books, teaching a wide range of courses and giving presentations around the world, Schäfer said he wasn’t sure what has motivated him to keep going but that he loves doing what he does.
Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Ph.D., an English professor, said that his love for his craft keeps him at it. Phillips said that the motivation for his work is the same thing that motivates him to continue breathing. “It’s what I need to do to be myself, what I need to do to be who I am,” Phillips said.
He creates poetry in addition to writing essays and articles and tries to inspire his students to succeed in the future.
“Hopefully, I help prepare students for the world that awaits them after graduating from Stony Brook,” Phillips said, adding how he feels that, “being literate, thoughtful, empathetic, a reader: this is the work of creating a citizen, which I think is at the heart of our objective as literature professors.”
Instilling this message into students relates to his job just as much as his writing and research.
“Obviously, I’m not working on my own work while I’m teaching a course or grading papers,” Phillips said, speaking to his ability to find equal balance between his own work and his teaching.
Justin Johnston, Ph.D., an English professor of five years at Stony Brook, has been hard at work on an upcoming book with the working title “Post-Human Capital: Biotechnology in Contemporary Literature.” According to Johnston, his research “looks at the question of how the human is formulated, or thought about, described, imagined, figured, within literature.”
In addition to teaching, advising dissertations and committee work, his writing has consumed a great portion of his weekends, evenings, nights and if he finds the time, mornings. Johnston said that balance is something that he has yet to figure out.
“Sometimes you can see the potential stakes of what you do — of intellectual work,” Johnston said, stressing the importance of, “the way people conceive and think of the world around them,” and how that changes over time.
“Understanding how that has happened throughout history and trying to contribute to what the future could be through your work, through your research — I think is incredibly rewarding,” Johnston said.
Michael Tondre, Ph.D., teaches English, does committee work, researches and serves on the editorial board for the journal, “Victorian Literature and Culture.” Tondre describes writing as a large part of the job and contributes it to ongoing conversations in the field of Victorian studies.
He just finished writing “The Physics of Possibility,” which, according to Tondre, is about Victorian scientists working with literary ideas and how novelists were contributing to and appropriating their works, and he is already working on his next book about oil culture. As this requires great dedication and planning, he tries to do some writing every day which gets him, “in the mode of constantly thinking about ideas.”
To find balance, Tondre feels that sharing work with people, having firm deadlines and using a firm time table suffices.
“I think having a kind of community to share ideas with, regardless of one’s occupation, is helpful in staying grounded and inspired to keep going,” Tondre said.
After your professors finish their lectures, ask them about their research. You just may find somebody to collaborate with in the future.
Alec Simione is a Stony Brook student whose company, Critic Clothing, is rising through the ranks of the streetwear industry.
Simione, a senior majoring in business management and marketing, has gone through life always looking for ways to make a name for himself. At the age of six, he took up skateboarding as a hobby and grew up immersed in the skateboarding culture. When he decided he wanted to create a clothing line, he infused his roots of skateboarding, a source of his favorite memories, into the brand.
Since the fourth grade, Simione and his friends made their own small made up companies and started “sponsoring” each other by selling each other small items. However, this playful endeavor became serious for Simione. He reached out to larger, established companies for sponsorship, but only started to hear back from them when he became a talented skateboarder. At that point, he received free boards and energy drinks.
Simione grew up around skate shops. In fact, when he made the first designs for Critic, he sold them to kids he knew at the skate park he worked at. Selling 50 shirts in the first month, Simione knew he had something special.
He describes his brand as “streetwear that is skate culture based, mixed with hip-hop and is, of course, New York influenced.”
The inspiration for his clothing designs came from other skate brands such as Emerica, which focuses more on footwear than apparel. The company’s professional style has also influenced how Simione runs his company. When he was little, he would email them and they would always email him back. One time, they even sent him two pairs of shoes and a hoodie. Now that he has his own company, Simione tries to carry that example forward,making his best effort to respond to kids that reach out to him whether it is by email or Instagram direct message.
“I love it when kids reach out to me because I know what that’s like,” Simione said.
Not only does he have the support of college friends, he has reached out and built good relationships with athletes in professional sports. Some of his friends in the NFL include Orleans Darkwa of the New York Giants, Anthony Johnson of the New York Jets and Daren Bates of the Tennessee Titans.
He reached out to some NFL rookies on Instagram and formed a close relationship with a few of them when they plugged his clothing on their Instagrams without asking for money. In return, Simione has always been willing to help them out, helping Darkwa put together a foundation camp and designing the website for it. MLB players like Mookie Betts, an outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, have helped Critic with promotion. Betts even wore the clothing brand for a Rolling Stone interview as a favor. Simione recalls when Betts sent him a link for the article and says it was “one of the most surreal moments of my life.”
He travels to every interview for his clothing line with the same passion and love for what he does as he did the first day he started. Simione says he wants to be a role model to kids so he doesn’t put any drugs or alcohol in his clothing brand because he knows all about the pressures that middle school and high school kids face. Simione’s advice to anyone looking to start their own artistic business is to save up money, keep bouncing back from the failures and setbacks and just do it.
“There’s no sleep while dream chasing,” Simione said.