Get to Know Amy Foss
As a musically-inclined career coach, Amy Foss has hit her stride helping CAM students pursue careers in the arts industries.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Mar 9, 2022
The College of Arts & Media’s Life Design and Career Coach, Amy Foss, was born in Wiesbaden, Germany to artistically-inclined parents. After her family moved back to the U.S., Foss lived in Texas and Maryland before moving to Colorado. Foss earned a BA in English from the University of Maryland and an MPA (Master of Public Administration) from George Mason University. Utilizing her master’s degree to work, Foss worked with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and then transitioned to Workforce Boulder County as an Employment Transition Specialist and Internship Coordinator. It was in this position that Foss “fell in love” with career readiness, development and aligning personal and professional growth. “I saw the transformative power of combining a person’s interests, values, skills and personality in a career pathway, and I loved getting to be a part of my clients’ journeys,” Foss explains. As much as she enjoyed these experiences, though, Foss knew she wanted to land in higher education. An opportunity presented itself at CU Denver and Foss grabbed it, eventually transitioning into her current role in CAM. Foss has been on CAM’s advising team since 2016.
1. What is your personal background with the arts?
I am the daughter of a visual artist and thespian. My mother has been a practicing artist since the 1970s and earned her master’s degree in museum education. My father, who served as an audiologist and speech pathologist for the Air Force, initially entered college to study theatre. Both of my parents sing, and music was a huge piece of my upbringing. I began singing in elementary school and never stopped. I have played clarinet for 23 years and served as the chair of our tri-county band and squad leader of the Mighty Sound of Maryland Marching Band. I provided backup vocals for a local Christian band and have sung in numerous venues in the DC metropolitan area. I performed in women chorales at both University of Maryland and George Mason University as a first soprano. In the inaugural performance of my conductor’s original composition, I was assigned the soprano solo. When I was given the opportunity to interview as a finalist for this role, I incorporated a song from the musical “Avenue Q” into my presentation. The problem is not getting me to sing, it’s to get me to stop!
2. You often help students with something called Life Design. Can you explain what that is and how it might differ from what we typically think of when we think of academic advising?
Life design utilizes the principles of design thinking that can allow an individual to ideate, prototype and test out potential pathways for their lives. Given career tends to be a major factor of a person’s life, it was a natural connection to my role as a career advisor. While academic advising follows a student’s educational journey and growth, life design looks at the many possibilities a person’s life can take, both during and after school. It is also an iterative process and something someone can come back to at any point when they are faced with a major decision or feel stuck as to what direction to take.
3. How do your personal interests and professional interests intersect in your role in CAM?
Ever since I began working for the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland and then serving as a graduate advisor at George Mason University, I quickly realized I wanted to find my way back professionally to higher education. After developing my skills in career coaching and advising, when the opportunity presented itself to combine that skillset with arts, music, film and scholarship, there was no doubt in my mind that this was the job for me. Where else in academic and career advising can you geek out over the vocal quality of an epic acoustic set, or converse ad nauseam about impressionist and transcendentalist art? I get to witness and take part in my students’ journeys, and I share the same devotion to the arts as they. While I am no longer the performer, I know I can perform a pivotal role in their development and growth.
4. What is something funny that has happened during your time in CAM?
While I was on maternity leave with my first son, I was at the gym and ran into a student there who told me he was planning to transfer from CU Boulder to CU Denver for the Music Business program. He hadn’t yet connected to an advisor, so I got his information and I provided him with a course evaluation and plan through graduation. We were able to work together throughout his time in CAM. He has since graduated in May 2021, and is working as a freelance music producer and artist in the Denver area. This goes to show that even on maternity leave you can’t take the advisor out of the girl!
5. What is a tip that you like to give all job and opportunity seekers? What is the best tip you’ve personally received along these lines?
Job hunting and career development can be daunting, and often we feel we need to have it all figured out right away. Much like with anything that we try for the first time, just know that sometimes finding the job you want can be quite the journey of self-discovery. While every opportunity can teach us something, including what we don’t want to do, we don’t have to jump at the first opportunity that presents itself. Be cognizant of who you are, what you value, what skills you possess, and what interests really ignite your curiosity. If those elements of you do not fundamentally align with a job, it will not be a job that brings you joy and boosts your energy. The best advice I received in my own career journey was to be open to the process and take as much insight as I could from every experience I pursued. We are all lifelong learners, and we should allow each experience to add to who we are and what we know about ourselves. And in the end, it’s okay to change your mind or direction. We have but one life to live, so why not pursue a well-lived life?