In 2017, I was really struggling to find the right path on a professional level. I had just graduated college with a journalism degree and had stage-managed my last college production. I felt myself coming to the end of a road, and I was right about that. It was the end of my college career and I soon would be dealing with a less strict schedule which meant only one thing: more time on my hands.
I wanted to jump right into the professional theatre world and gain as much experience as I was able to, but it was a huge struggle for me. After college, I applied to several places and never heard back. For a while, I thought it wasn’t in the cards for me and I went into a rather depressive mode over it. After a period of time, I realized the problem. I wasn’t looking in the correct places. This is possible. It can happen. Here is my advice.
The first mistake I made during the job hunt was that I was looking for open positions in actual theaters. Places in Connecticut like, The Warner Theater, The Palace Theater, The Bushnell and The Shubert. Although you can find open positions in places like these, for the most part it’s going to be jobs like ushering, box office sales rep., or an assistant of some sort. They are jobs that have to do with the theater itself and the workings and business side of things, not the productions. I was looking for positions in stage management or something involving the production teams for shows. I can’t believe I didn’t learn this until now, or realize it, but when searching for jobs like that, you have to look at “companies” versus “theaters.” Obviously, theaters like The Shubert or The Warner bring in productions or book acts. These productions or acts are usually companies on tour and they bring their own crew and stage manager. It’s a whole different animal. I’m not sure what I was thinking or why I didn’t realize this, but it’s part of learning the business and that is what I tell myself to make myself feel better about it. However, I missed out on a lot of opportunities because of that mistake. This is valuable information and something you should hold on to during the job search.
Some other advice, in a more mental sense, is to never let yourself get broken down over not getting a gig or not hearing back from a job. It really shouldn’t mean anything to you. I let it get to me for some time and then I didn't. You learn to let it go. Think of applying as doing something positive for yourself. You’re jumping on a possible opportunity and you have nothing to lose. Not getting the job is not losing. Not getting the job just means it wasn’t right for you and a better fit is coming your way. Keep the applying process going and jump on every single opportunity you find that you think may work. Don’t sell yourself short. If you get one gig, that can open the door to so many more. Don’t believe me? Well, it happened for me. By getting one single job, you can make thousands of connections in the theatre industry. We are kind of small, anyway. Connections and getting your name out there is the best thing you can do. You have to be ready in a mental and emotional way before you start applying and part of that is to be ready for anything and everything.
There are many helpful websites and pages for you to follow that constantly offer artistic and technical jobs and career opportunities. Some of these sites include Playbill.com, CT Callboard (my personal favorite) and Indeed. Playbill is great if you want to find jobs beyond the Connecticut area. There are filter options for searches that can lead you to out of state gigs, internships, union/non-union gigs, and paid or volunteer jobs. My personal favorite for gigs within Connecticut is CT Callboard. I’ve found so many great opportunities on this site. Be sure to subscribe so you get daily emails when opportunities pop up. Lastly, there is Indeed. This is a good website to find any jobs at all, but there are usually some theatre opportunities on their as well. It’s good to subscribe to this because you never know when companies might post something on there and it is a well-known site to many, so you don’t want to miss out.
If you keep pushing on and taking anything that comes your way, I believe you’re doing the best thing for yourself. Don’t let yourself get into a depression over failure like I did, because it isn’t failure. You just need the drive, the passion and the right tactics to move forward and get ahead. From there, things really do improve. If you want something bad enough, and you believe in it and you know it is the right fit, then nothing can stop you. Keep these thoughts in the back of your mind and watch things change. Happy Job Hunting!