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E-commerce expert underscores importance of arts education

Arts education teaches essential life skills for succeeding in the “New Economy,” according to Michael Drapkin, chairman of E-commerce management at Columbia University’s Advanced IT Management Program. Drapkin spoke at a fine arts keynote address Saturday (Feb. 3) at The University of Texas at Austin.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Arts education teaches essential life skills for succeeding in the “New Economy,” according to Michael Drapkin, chairman of E-commerce management at Columbia University’s Advanced IT Management Program. Drapkin spoke at a fine arts keynote address Saturday (Feb. 3) at The University of Texas at Austin.

Drapkin, principal of the Monsey, N.Y., -based E-commerce consulting company, Drapkin Technology, and a former symphony musician, told the fine arts students they will graduate with self-motivation and creative-thinking skills that will help them succeed in any future job world.

“You have to be self-motivated in order to get yourself to practice,” Drapkin said. “That is so key to achieving success, and all of you have it here. That is your secret weapon, no matter what career you create for yourself.”

Drapkin, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, was selected to deliver the keynote address at the “Put Your Degree to Work! Create Your Own Career” conference because he knows first-hand the marketability of the skills acquired in the pursuit of an arts degree, according to Robert Freeman, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

“Drapkin’s remarks were exceptionally useful for anyone interested in the intersection of the arts and information technology. He is a terrific classically trained clarinetist and a major success in the business world,” said Freeman.

“Free-lancing as a musician and organizing ensembles prepared me for being an entrepreneur and a project manager. I didn’t start out working a traditional 9-to-5 job, so my perception of work is much different, and I am comfortable with that, Drapkin said.

“The ability and understanding of how to achieve is again highly sought after in the business world,” Drapkin explained.

A former senior technologist at Web agencies Razorfish and Avalanche, and a former vice president of Lehman Brothers, Drapkin is lead author of the forthcoming Three Clicks Away: Advice from the Trenches of E-Commerce with a foreword by Pehong Chen, CEO of BroadVision. Drapkin previously held the position of associate principal clarinetist with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.

Drapkin’s presentation was followed by several workshops: Artists Helping Others, How to Become a Faculty Member, The Real World of Graduate School, Arts Administration as a Profession, Creating Your Own Career Path in the Arts and Finding Money for Your Arts Career: An Introduction to Grants. Sponsored by Fine Arts Career Services and the Fine Arts Council, this conference was designed to educate visual and performing artists about their post-college options. Both undergraduate and graduate students interacted with alumni, local arts professionals and faculty who shared their personal experiences and insights.