Students Explore Creative Careers

Panelists Offer Insight for Jobs in the Creative Arts at Career Development Center Event

When he first started Yeshiva University in 2005, Yishai Seidman said he thought he had three choices: become a lawyer, accountant or doctor. He picked the last path, but after a few semesters he realized something was amiss.

YU graduate Yishai Seidman, a literary agent, was one of the panelists at the Careers in the Creative Arts event.

“I was fooling myself,” Seidman told a crowded room of students at a panel discussion on “Careers in the Creative Arts” organized by YU’s Career Development Center. In his second-to-last semester, Seidman switched trajectories and decided to major in English. He completed the requirement by taking seven English courses in his final semester.

“I just decided to do what I wanted and figure out a career later,” he said.

Fortunately, after graduating, Seidman found an internship with Writers House, a literary agency, and ended up becoming a literary agent at Dunlow, Carson & Lerner in 2009. As part of his duties, Seidman helps other agents manage their writers as well as managing his own growing client list. A literary agent, he explained, has many responsibilities: discovering new authors, helping them develop and, most importantly, selling authors’ work to publishers.

“If you sell a book like Twilight, it’s like winning the lotto,” Seidman said. “It’s astounding how many people write books.”

Other panelists at the event at YU’s Beren Campus included Yosef Herzog, a YU graduate who is a production assistant at NBC’s Today Show; playwright and actress Eleanor Reissa; artist and interior designer Ani Brieger; and the assistant director of the Career Development Center, Rebecca Weiler.

“Do your best to get at least one industry-related internship under your belt,” said Herzog. “But above all, take advantage of any connections you may have in the field to at least get your foot in the door.”

Weiler spoke about her own journey to finding her profession. A singer and a songwriter, she opted to approach the creative arts from a business side. After spending a year at Columbia Artists, she became a senior coordinator for The Metropolitan Opera, where she supervised the “Live in HD” series, a program that broadcasts shows and performances directly to movies and schools all over the world.

“I grew up wanting to be a performer, and I made it to Broadway, but it wasn’t in the way I expected,” said Weiler, who originally anticipated working on the artistic side of the industry.

After five years she decided to return to school to pursue a degree in counseling, another of her passions. Three months ago, she joined Yeshiva University.

Her advice to students was to “be resourceful, be creative, be quick on your feet and be calm.”

The event was eye-opening for some Stern College for Women students.

“I’m not sure what I want to do,” said freshman Rachel Pearlstein. “I didn’t even know what a literary agent was.”

As the panel wound down, Hannah Rozenblat, an English major and author of the blog, “My Ink Stained Hands,” debated about reworking a novel she wrote when she was 14. Now, she knew an agent.

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