Alumni Career Resources
Michael Ahn '10
New York, N.Y.
Registrar, Feldman Gallery
Michael Ahn ’10 majored in biology and studio arts. After leaving Swarthmore, Michael started his career as a lab technician at Columbia University Medical Center, but found that the isolation and routine-oriented aspects of the job didn’t sit well with his more creative side. After leaving Columbia, Michael began interning at different galleries and studios around New York. He eventually secured an internship at a contemporary fine arts gallery in New York where he now works full time. At Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Michael says he has been able to immerse himself in the “art world”. He has learned how artists’ careers can be established in all fields and media and about the practices of artists working in tandem with contemporary social issues such as ecological and environmental crises and transgender politics.
What resources helped you in your transition out of college?
The close relationships I developed with certain professors particularly Rachel Mertz, a marine biology professor. Rachel came to my senior thesis exhibition and gave really great feedback. She was one of the first patrons of my work, which gave me the confidence to continue my creative pursuits. She inspired me to keep up my practice of art regardless of what I did for a living after graduation. After I left Swarthmore, she wrote wonderful letters of recommendation for me and gave me support and guidance when I reached out. Even today we still catch up from time to time. Being able to develop strong relationships with your teachers and mentors is definitely one of the best aspects of Swarthmore. Due to our small class sizes, the professors here still remember and care about you long after your four years are over. It’s a great feeling to have that relationship continue after graduation. I would encourage all recent Swattie grads to seek mentors for their lives and to remember to nurture those contacts.
What advice would you give to recent graduates starting their careers?
Never stagnate. If you aren’t comfortable in a certain profession or you feel like your time is going towards a dead end, think of other possibilities and be creative. You never know what something might lead to. It was a gamble when I moved from a full-time lab position to doing internships but I had to learn to maximize all the free time I now had available. I used it to see what kinds of work environments or employers might be a good fit for me and to see what I thought was a worthwhile endeavor. It’s so important to try things. After working in both the sciences and the contemporary art world, I’m still thinking about where my experiences and growing interests might take me. Don’t settle and don’t be afraid of change. Take risks and challenge yourself to grow.
Resources for the career-focused
Career Services doesn't stop assisting you in your job search once you graduate! They offer 30-minute telephone appointments to help you kick-off your career exploration. Additionally, they provide resume and cover letter tips, LinkedIn tips, on-file letters of recommendation, and networking tricks.
There are so many fellow alumni out there looking to hire a fellow Swarthmorean. Use the SwatCareers database to look for other professionally-minded alumni and employers looking for someone with your skill set. Call the Career Services office for a login. You could also do it the new old-fashioned way on LinkedIn, or the old-old fashioned way by using the Alumni Directory.
Update your information
Once you land your next job, be sure to update your information! We're always looking for mentors, speakers at the Lax Conference, and experts in a variety of fields. Create a profile on SwatCareers to connect with other career-focused alumni, and continue growing your network. Don't forget to notify your Class Secretary to submit a class note.