Ahead of the Curve: UT students share how they’ve jump-started their careers

For most students, college is a time for self-discovery as they enjoy life before needing to commit to a full-time job. Some students, however, see college as the perfect time to cultivate their careers.

“I started in November 2017,” sociology senior Oceane Maher said.

Story by Samantha Chavez

Illustration by Esther Shin

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She’s referring to her own agency, Evo Model Management. Her agency is a mother agency, which means that it scouts local models. Maher started off as a model when she was 15 but noticed there weren’t that many agents or mother agencies around. So, she took the opportunity to create her own.

“As someone who experienced the other side of actually being in the modeling industry, I think that gave me a little bit of background going into it,” Maher said. “I prefer being on this side of it.”

Being on this side of the industry doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, though. Maher said there’s drama, but she focuses on her models and agency.

“It’s a very competitive industry and tensions run high,” Maher said. “It can be difficult to not get caught up in what everyone else is doing but the most important thing is to always stay professional.”

Maher calls her agency a placement agency which places models in major fashion cities with bigger agencies.

“I went to New York, and I met with agencies there and made connections with them,” Maher said. “I am fortunate enough to have a lot of family in France who (I visited) this summer. (I) flew into London so I met with some of the agencies there, and from there (I) went to Paris, and I flew to Milan.”

As a college student, it might be hard to find money to travel or start a business, but Maher said she didn’t spend much money to get started.

“I’ve definitely had to do some investing, but as a college student who hates spending money, a lot of that investment has been time and work,” Maher said.

Maher manages all communication between the agencies and models, handles scouting and development and sets up new models with local photographers and makeup artists. With this still being the starting stages of the agency, she has yet to hire employees. However, she hopes to be able to do so in the future.

Maher said the business is a lot to balance, but it just takes a little practice. She is currently finishing her last full semester at UT and said she’s looking forward to being able to focus on her agency.

“It’s about pushing through,” Maher said. “I enjoy the modeling agency. It’s fun for me. It’s not like it’s a chore or anything. I’m always motivated.”

According to a study from Georgetown University titled “Learning While Earning: The New Normal,” 8 percent of the labor force and 70 to 80 percent of college students are enrolled in a form of postsecondary education while working. Having a job while studying is a new norm and students use different opportunities in order to jump-start their careers.

Finance sophomore Thomas Sanchez is in a student-run organization called UTalent Records. Through this organization, he has been able to get his first EP, “Blue Love,” out on Spotify and Apple Music.

“It’s great because it has that level of legitimacy,” Sanchez said. “I’m not just this garage band.”

One requirement of UTalent Records is to record original music and send it out into the world. Sanchez has been a part of the organization since last year when he auditioned and became an artist. Since then, he regularly performs around Austin and records on campus.

Sanchez said he dealt with a similar schedule last year so he doesn’t think the time commitment and workload is too bad.

“I don’t take too many hours (of classes) so at least I have some time for working on my own personal music or working with others,” Sanchez said. “When it comes to rehearsing and playing live, I don’t think it’s too bad. I’m up for the challenge.”

As for the future, Sanchez hopes to be able to continue playing with his group of good friends and make the music he likes when he wants to.

“I hope to become part of the blues scene which has its own legendary history here in Austin,” Sanchez said. “I want to be among those who inspired me to able to play”

For now though, Sanchez jokingly said he simply wants to see revenue from his music on Spotify.