By Jessie Mordine Young, The ARAD Program Coordinator at Teachers College.
I had the opportunity to sit down and interview my fairly new colleague, Kamra (Kamila) Hakim, who started her role as the Professional Development Coordinator at TC this past August. I enjoyed learning about her professional path as well as gaining some insight on her role at TC.
As an Arts Administrator with an academic background in Global Affairs, she is passionate about working with international students and proliferating creative industries across the globe. She has spent a year teaching English in China and went on to NYU where she earned her MS in Global Affairs with a concentration in Gender Studies. Kamra is an imaginative futurist, a musician, and is also the founder of Activation, an annual immersive residency experience designed for early career artists.
Jessie: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Kamra: I am a 27 year old, early career professional who is dedicated to access and education in the arts. I was born in Minnesota, but grew up in Phoenix. I spent most of my adolescence involved in extra curricular activities that were focused in community building and engagement. I think that this has influenced my decisions as an adult in terms of how I want to spend my time or pursue things professionally.
Jessie: What previous experiences/have led you to your current role?
Kamra: Most of my success has come from having mentors in my life, from various folks guiding me and uplifting me so that I was able to do my best work. This has shaped what I do now, as I try to follow that model.
Quite a few experiences have actually really set me up for this job. Coming into myself as an artist, and doing work on the ground by myself are two key players. Also, my background in higher education has definitely been a precursor to my current position.
Jessie: What do you do outside of your time at TC?
Kamra: When I am not working at TC, I spend a lot of my time nesting, just making my home cozy and beautiful by buying plants. I really enjoy having a space that is warm and welcoming.
My passion project is the residency program I started last year called Activation. This organization is focused on radical programming and community. We just ran the second iteration in September, and we have received great feedback. At Activation, we help artists grow through experience and exploration. Starting and running this residency has been consuming in a very positive way. It will be exciting to see how this project grows and changes in the coming years.
Photo Courtesy of Activation. Read more about the residency here
Jessie: How did this residency/idea come about?
Kamra: I think that as somebody who entered the artspace at a later age, a lot of barriers for me practicing, space and time for practice more widely available to folks who were feeling the same way. I had a need and wanted to find a solution to it, and it naturally benefited a larger community than just myself.
Jessie: Out of the internships you have participated in, which was the most beneficial and/or enjoyable ?
Kamra: I took part in three or four internships in my early career, but the one that was the most impactful and enjoyable was the one I participated in during the summer of 2014. I worked as project associate at Educare India, which is an organization that helps folks within the community create educational projects.
I was given a variety of responsibilities, each one an excellent learning opportunity to engage in an task or project that I had not done previously.
I was tasked with going into the community and making those connections on my own, to create autonomy, evaluate the program, and come up with reports on how the program was impacting people in the community specifically. I found that I was really able to take advantage of the resources around me and build partnerships so that I could delegate the work and include as many people in the program as possible.
Jessie: What advice would you give students when they are looking for an internship? What are some factors to consider?
Kamra: There are many factors to consider, but I would say the top three are relevance, opportunity, and connection.
Relevance: How is this opportunity that you are applying to relevant to your interest and to your current professional goals? Are there other roles that may seem like a better fit? Which internships seem the most relevant and how can you put your energy towards pursuing that?
Opportunity: When you asses the opportunity, what kind of opportunity is it providing you? Is this internship giving you more than it is taking a way from you?
Connection: what connections do you think can come from the opportunity ?
It is also important to remember to have a work/life balance. Consider how the internship fits into your schedule in a healthy way. Though it is a learning opportunity, it is important to leave enough time for academics.
Jessie: What are some ways students can set themselves up for success when applying for internships?
Kamra: First and foremost, it is essential to read the internship descriptions in FULL. It is counterproductive to apply to something and then later find out that it is not the right opportunity for you, whether it be not related to your area of interest, past the application deadline, does not meet your pay criteria (if paid), requires certain skills, or does not fit your academic schedule.
Additionally, what is the internship asking of YOU? Can you tailor each application to the specific internship needs?
Come to me, your Program Development Coordinator for support to consult and review your application material.
Stay proactive! Stay organized, follow up, research to see if you have a connection.
Jessie: How might a student who is currently interning use the opportunity to their advantage when they are hoping to find a job in the near future?
Kamra: Remember that there are more gains than just showing up to the internships
Spend time cultivating relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and really learning about the work that you are doing outside of the context of it being an internship.
Ask yourself, How would I engage with this job differently if it was a full time job rather than an internship? Also, go to the events, and just generally staying connecting with the opportunity.
Ask your manager or colleagues if positions will be opening up in the near future, while also really enjoy the experience of learning a new skillset that could be applicable in a future role.
Photo courtesy of the Activation residency
Jessie: How did your graduate degree inform your current work?
Kamra: I graduated with a Masters of Science in global affairs and wanted to become a diplomat for the state department. After a change in heart and some making some different decisions, I found other professions that I wanted to pursue. My graduate degree definitely influences my current work.
I think once you understand your skillset, you are able to use what you learned in your degree and apply it to other roles. advising students, benefits working with international students.
I definitely think it is important to be aware of the synergies between your study and what you want to practice in your field. And that your career is not necessarily going to be a linear trajectory.
Jessie: What is the best way for students to reach you?
Students are always welcome to reach to me through email, but calling me or stopping by Zankel 413 during my office hours works well too.
Thank you so much! Kamra for providing us with such great insight!
In collaboration between Dr. Jennifer Lena and Kamra Hakim, The Arts Administration Department at TC is proud to present a series of workshops: