GAAN with the wind: Club helps arts administration students with networking

Courtesy+of+Anastasia+Gudko

Courtesy of Anastasia Gudko

Yasmeen Persaud

Baruch College’s Graduate Arts Administration Network is painting a new canvas for the world of networking. 

Representing Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, the graduate club’s mission is to make networking a professional, easy and enjoyable experience for those involved in arts administration. 

“I believe the main benefit GAAN provides is for students within our program to connect with one another, even if it’s just on a casual level — and to hopefully support one another within our professional endeavors,” Vice President Lorie Caval stated. “I also think it’s very important to build a professional network, and a student organization is the perfect place to hone that.”

The launch of the club is credited to James Stanton, a Weissman graduate student who originally pictured this idea as a consultancy project or master’s thesis project. The club was created one year ago and has already initiated different events, from informative panel discussions to fun salsa socials. 

“This club closes the gap between students and working professionals in the field, especially for international students who often might feel lost in this overwhelming city,” Spring 2020 Vice President elect Mitchell-lee van Rooij said. 

Weissman lacked a professional organization for arts administration majors, and seemed overshadowed by the Zicklin School of Business’ five graduate organizations. 

This is where GAAN stepped in.

There needed to be a way for students to connect more than just on LinkedIn. GAAN encompasses a vision of teamwork and professional skills within a close network of those who share the same mission. 

“In times of social media, it’s important to have face to face conversations and exchange ideas that could lead to more novel solutions to the problems that we are facing in the creative sector,” Rooij added. 

President Anastasia Gudko is a Ukrainian immigrant with experience working in Big Pharma. Her experience working in a business-oriented industry propelled her to join Weissman and lead the arts administration network. 

“What I want to do is arts, because we’re in New York,” Gudko said. “It’s an incredible city where people have been introduced to all the diverse systems and museums and galleries and performing arts centers, and it clicked that this is where I wanted to use my skills and background and knowledge.”

With high hopes to achieve her dreams, Gudko sought out the Weissman school to fine-tune her skills for the workforce she was about to land in. 

“But when I started to apply to jobs, I had no experience in arts and that made me the less interesting candidate because the level of competition here and everywhere is crazy, that’s how I started to find the program that allowed me to get introduced with arts, but also use my business and management background,” she added. 

Gudko’s experience in building an arts career mirrors the narrative of GAAN’s mission in connecting with one another. She described a common feeling of being intimidated in the beginning stages of networking with professionals, but found that within GAAN, career interests and perspectives on goals were closely aligned for everyone, making the process efficient and convenient. 

“People might be effective in their work-place, but they have the struggle to open their mouths and just say, ‘Hi,’… so we learn with each other how to use this and go into the outside world to make that connection,” she stated.