About Sotheby's Institute of Art
Year Founded: 1968
England : London
This intensive semester-long program at Sotheby's Institute of Art is designed for students who are interested in learning about business practices in the art world both
China : Beijing
Sotheby's Institute of Art in Beijing, China, offers a master-level degree program in Art Business that provides students with the opportunity to study selected art markets...
United States : New York
The Fine and Decorative Art and Design curriculum is based on a simple belief: the fundamental currency of the art world is objects. The program prepares students for careers...
United States : New York
This learning program is a Combined Masters Degree and Certificate Program with New York School of Interior Design open to all students at the New York campus, and to London...
England : London
Sotheby's Institute of Art offers a full-time semester program designed for students interested in a career in art galleries and art museums. The program is thematically
Born and raised in Italy, after graduating with a degree in Italian literature and philosophy Federica decided to leave Italy in order to improve her English skills. She lived in Dublin for six months before she decided to move to London to enroll in a marketing course. While living in England, she applied for a master’s in arts management program in Cambridge and was accepted. After finishing her MA, Federica started applying for jobs in the UK, which is when she got a job at Sotheby’s Institute as programme coordinator for semester programmes. She has worked for Sotheby’s Institute for more than seven years, and her role continues to evolve.
What attracted you to apply for a job at Sotheby’s Institute of Art (SIA)?
After graduating with my MA in arts management in Cambridge, I decided to complete my experience abroad with at least one year of work in the UK. I also wanted to move to a bigger city, as I felt that Cambridge was getting a bit too small for me. The location, the reputation, and the dynamic environment of the institute were definitely the elements that stood out when comparing it with other places I applied for.
After working at SIA for a while, I have realized that not only reputation and dynamism are part of the culture of Sotheby’s Institute, but also that the people (my colleagues) are a key asset which makes the environment so special. This is something that not only staff can feel but also students seem to have the same perception.
All these elements together, with the networking, social, and learning opportunities that completely immerse you in the arts world, as very few other places do, have made me stay for over seven years.
How do you apply your educational background to your current work?
Studying management in Cambridge has complemented my humanistic background considerably, and I have acquired general management and business skills to supplement my expertise in the fields of art and culture. This experience enables me to approach situations and/or problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. My educational background is also not very different from the majority of our students’ (foreign degree with an educational experience in the UK). This, again, enables me deeply to understand why students are coming to London, what they are expecting from studying at Sotheby’s Institute, and what makes their experience unique and unforgettable.
You’ve lived in Milan, Dublin, Cambridge, and London, what do you think the biggest benefit of living abroad is?
I would say that living abroad definitely “opens your mind”; it enriches you with experiences that you would have never lived if you were still in your home town and gives you a mature and independent approach to life and problems. Living abroad for almost 10 years has given me the equivalent of 20 years in my hometown, and it gave me the chance to meet people from all over the world, from all the different backgrounds, which is priceless.
What is your favourite part about life in London?
Probably the various cultural opportunities that I would have never had anywhere else.
What is the most frequently asked question you receive from prospective students and what is your answer?
Q: “Am I going to get a job after the course?”
A: What I normally say is that the art world job market is very competitive, but Sotheby’s Institute offers, together with an in-depth knowledge and professional preparation to work in the field, excellent career services and a unique opportunity to build your own network. During all our programmes, students meet influential speakers who are experts in the art world, from curators to dealers and auction house specialists to gallerists. Not only will these people be part of students’ network, but they could be their future colleagues and employers.
Describe a typical day of work for you.
Unfortunately or luckily, every day is different, which means that I don’t have a typical day.
One day I could be on a visit for all day, one day I could be at my desk for the whole day, one day I might spend my afternoon at the auction house, and one day I might be at the Vatican looking at the Sistine Chapel.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I can’t answer this question easily as every day has a different challenge, but probably the liaison between daily tasks and longer term projects.
How do you help prepare students for their time in London?
Prior to the students’ arrival, we are communicating with them quite extensively. We also have a welcome site, where we post several pieces of information about the institute, the courses, preliminary readings, accommodation, living in London, transportation, etc. The welcome site also has a discussion board where students can interact with each other before the beginning of the course; this allows them to meet friends and share information before their arrival in London, and this shouldn’t be underestimated.
What is the most important thing students should know before attending Sotheby’s Institute of Art?
Despite the fact that they will have an extremely enjoyable time with us, our courses are all full time and very intense. Students shouldn’t underestimate the workload they need to take on to pass the courses successfully.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since you began working at Sotheby’s Institute more than seven years ago?
I am part of the team that has doubled the numbers of students within very few years. In 2007, we had something like 100 semester students in a year, and now we have around 200 students a year.