Interview with David Fickes

David Fickes

By Flavin ’22

For this month’s newsletter I had the pleasure of speaking with the UVM Career Center’s very own David Fickes regarding his story and advice in pursuing an artistic field and how creative careers play a role in other career paths as well. David is currently the Data and Application Support Specialist at UVM and has previously worked as a Career Services Apprentice at Juilliard. David spent his early life interested in technology and music simultaneously, starting in the Green Mountain Youth Symphony. As he continued his studies in music he was given the opportunity to play with the National Youth Orchestra during his time at UVM after which he transferred to UCSB for a BA in Music Violin Performance. After receiving his degree he returned to Vermont to pursue teaching as well as perform with the Vermont Philharmonic. 

Throughout my conversation with David, a major theme emerged from our discussion: connections are key. He continuously emphasized the importance of connections and reaching out to people when pursuing something that you’re passionate about. He spoke passionately about taking charge of your own future though taking every opportunity and trusting your own abilities to succeed. One of the most memorable pieces of advice he provided was that most people want to help you. It might seem scary to reach out to strangers and ask for favors or connections or simply insight, but he stressed over and over again how much people want to help you find your way to what you’re looking for.

He spoke of the importance of developing and highlighting soft skills, such as organization, reliability, time management, and presentation, when marketing yourself to these opportunities. He emphasized that hard skills are a lot easier to learn, but soft skills take more nuance and experience to gain and understand. Often, a willingness to learn can lead to more opportunities that one might think. I quote David when I say, “understand you don’t know everything; while you’re capable you have a lot to learn” when speaking about hands on experience. A willingness to learn and reliability will get you pretty far. 

Lastly, in regards to the Juilliard Professional Apprentice Program, it covers a wide range of interests. From Orchestral Studies to Community Engagement, Administration to Wigs & Makeup Technician, the apprenticeship is a great opportunity for students to gain real world experience and make valuable connections within a specific field. When we spoke about the program, David gave a lot of good insight into the nature of creative apprenticeships, internships, and jobs. He emphasized that the most valuable aspect of these types of programs is connections. Making meaningful connections within the field is the majority of the work. He concluded our interview with some inspiration regarding the path to a creative field: start now. He stressed the importance and value of being able to apply for an opportunity already knowing how to do it. 

Your passion and excitement will shine through if you can accomplish the hard skills you need for the opportunity before you’ve even applied. Feeling confident in your field allows for more focus on making those connections that will provide the chance to utilize the skills you’ve developed. Our conversation concluded with an air of excitement and passion for the arts; flexibility, reliability, and communication are the recipe for success in a creative field. 

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