Kim Korzen (BA 2016 in Sociology)

Engagement and Artistic Coordinator at Carolina Performing Arts in Chapel Hill, NC

Describe your current job role.

Kim Korzen head shot

I am the Engagement and Artistic Coordinator at Carolina Performing Arts at UNC Chapel Hill. Every day is different, and I love it. For example, when Youssou N’Dour was in town, I was emailing faculty and students one minute, and escorting Senegalese pop stars across campus the next! With the Engagement team, I help connect presenting artists to the university and community with educational and community events. I reach out to faculty and students, investigate event possibilities, coordinate class ticket vouchers, and help with overall planning and strategizing. With the Artistic team, I also help with logistics and I assist artists when they are on campus. One of my goals is to facilitate the collaboration between the Artistic and Engagement teams, so I take on responsibilities that benefit both teams and compile and distribute information. I use communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills constantly, and I rely on my arts and humanities background for research and working with artists.

List any additional work experiences you’ve had since graduating from Wake Forest, in addition to your current employment.

In the two months immediately following graduation, I served as one of three Performances Interns at the American Dance Festival. This was my dream internship. The American Dance Festival has presented the leading modern dance companies in the US and the world for over 80 years, and it’s based in Durham, NC! The experience was intense, demanding, and the perfect beginning to a career in performing arts administration. I was responsible for coordinating logistics for ten companies or individuals who performed in the festival’s seven-week period, and I was only one of the three Performances interns! I left with a better understanding of the duties of performing arts facilitators, with confidence in my abilities, and an improved ability to articulate my capabilities and career aspirations.

I have also served as an Administrative Assistant for Karola Luettringhas/Alban Elved Dance company. I began working with Karola periodically in 2014 on her SARUS Festival in Wilmington and performances in Winston-Salem. Since August, I have continued to assist Karola administratively in various ways, including conducting research and contacting possible presenters or collaborators.

How did Wake Forest prepare you for the world of work?

Throughout my time at Wake, I sought out independent projects. The support I received from faculty as well as organizations like URECA allowed me to take on these opportunities and explore and solidify my career aspirations. I received grants through URECA for multiple projects with the assistance of professors Lynn Book and Christina Soriano. Lynn connected me with an exciting summer research opportunity in Raleigh and she invited me to join her study abroad program in Berlin. This summer experience, all centered on the emerging field of arts entrepreneurship, was an important stepping stone as I began realizing my passion for arts administration and gaining the skills to make a career in the arts.

Christina, Nina, and the whole Wake Forest Dance Department allowed and pushed me to express myself and pursue my goals, and gave me important performing arts experience. As stage manager, board operator, dancer, and chorographer, I saw every side of a dance production, and loved it. Christina also suggested I go on the OPCD’s Performing Arts Career Trek, which was a great opportunity to explore career options and speak to alumni working in NYC. Shan Woolard in the OPCD was also a great help in my senior spring, as I applied for the internship at ADF and began researching job opportunities.

Also in my senior year, I created and directed a performance through IPLACe. I brought together poets and dancers for an evening exploring identity, inspired by sociological theory. I deeply appreciate the work of IPLACe, and mentioned this in my interview with CPA. As I told them, I know first-hand the powerful impact arts integration can have in a university. I was also able to tie together my studies in dance and sociology when I pursued independent research in the sociology department with the help of Saylor Breckenridge. My entire experience in the sociology department prepared me for the “world of work,” as I learned to improve my communication, project management, and research skills – all of which translate well to administrative responsibilities. Overall, my mentors at Wake prepared me for life after college by bolstering my confidence in my capabilities as well as helping me sharpen my skills in many areas!

Describe an interesting project that you’ve worked on recently. What did it involve and what was the impact?

Each performing artist or group’s visit is a new interesting project! One group that was particularly intriguing to work with was zoe|juniper, a visual art and dance collaboration between Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey. At Carolina Performing Arts, they presented their newest work, Clear & Sweet, inspired by the southern traditional Sacred Harp singing. The audience was seated onstage in the round instead of in the house, which created a more intimate experience. I was involved with organizing receptions for post-performance discussions both nights, collaborating with our Marketing Coordinator on publicizing Zoe’s masterclass and creating songbooks the audience, collecting reactions to the performance with student surveys, and more. Overall, from surveys and conversation we know that this new set-up was effective and exciting for our audiences.

What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

Honestly, I would tell anyone to be excited! I feel there’s an overly apprehensive culture around leaving college and entering the work world, and I want to shift that. Any job comes with challenges, and adjusting to working full time can be demanding. However, I would encourage anyone starting a new job to enjoy themselves and approach their work enthusiastically. Not only will you do a better job most likely, you might just have a good time.

On the flip side, if you are looking for work, stay active and get involved with causes or groups you like as you search. I reached out to a regional nonprofit, Triangle ArtWorks, when I was between positions and applying to jobs in August. I volunteered with Beth, the Executive Director, a few times and learned a lot about the arts in the area in a short time. I helped and will continue to help with multiple projects. I was also able to talk about this activity in my final interview with Carolina Performing Arts, and I think it helped. At the very least, I felt more confident in the interview and starting the job, because I had stayed active and felt more informed about the arts in the area. Even showing up to relevant events is an important way to improve your chances of finding and getting opportunities, so put yourself out there.

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you?

Beth, the executive director of Triangle ArtWorks, who I mentioned above as well, was an awesome mentor to meet after I finished my summer internship. She is tapped into the arts across Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and everywhere in-between, and has very valuable insight. I look forward to volunteering with her more, and being part of her important effort to support the arts in the Triangle! I am inspired by the work she does and I feel more motivated and confident in my career plans because of working with her.

Additionally, my bosses and team members at Carolina Performing Arts have been excellent mentors from the beginning. They are encouraging, give good direction and feedback, and show me the ins and outs of performing arts administration in a university setting. I’m learning a lot, and having a great time.

Story published in April 2017. For current updates about Kim, visit her LinkedIn page.