This dispatch comes from FOI Alyson Carrel (Northwestern).
Last week, Robert DeNiro spoke at the NYU Tisch School of Arts graduation ceremony. After congratulating the students on their success, he paused, then added, “ “and, you’re f***ed.” Everyone laughed because they understood the uncertainty these students face. Unlike their peers in accounting, law or medicine who have already found jobs that will lead to success and security, DeNiro said, students pursuing careers in the arts will likely struggle. But he joked that artists aren’t jealous of those accountant jobs because he said, students who choose the arts, don’t follow reason or logic when deciding what career to pursue, they follow their passion. He said, they may be f***ed, but it isn’t a bad place to be. Because, he said, it is their passion that will make them successful.
ABC News lumped DeNiro’s speech in a story about tough love messages found in this year’s graduations. But I heard his message as uplifting and supportive. I heard hope and inspiration in the idea that passion trumps reason or that even if you struggle, you will know you will be following your dream.
Of course cognitive dissonance may be at play because this past year I have been focused on finding hope and inspiration for students who are thinking of pursuing ADR early in their career. I have been hoping to shift the message we tell these students from “it takes at twenty years before you can become a private mediator” to “if this is really what you want, it is possible.”
The ABA’s Dispute Resolution Magazine devoted an entire issue to the topic of ADR careers, exploring how career paths have evolved over the years, and what opportunities exist today. I want to thank the editorial board for dedicating so much space to this issue and allowing me to highlight the stories and experiences of individuals who followed their passions and chose to pursue a career in ADR early on instead of waiting to establish their career in another discipline and transitioning to ADR later.
I hope, at the very least, this issue of the magazine, can spark a renewed discussion about the choices and opportunities our students have. An early career in ADR is not for everyone, just like not everyone is cut out to be an artist. But for those students who are truly passionate about this work, we should stop setting up barriers and start finding ways to support and guide them beyond the classroom. I started a forum for an online discussion about the realities of ADR as an early career on the ADR as 1stCareer video blog site.