College: What I Would Have Done Differently
I always knew I wanted to go to school for Theatre since I was a child. However, I also knew that there was a good chance I would never make any money after I graduated or when I would make money it would be sporadic. Of course I planned ahead and got real work experience at my university to have to fall back on post-graduation. I worked as a secretary throughout my entire college education including summers. This was the smartest thing I could have done considering the payoff I get now from getting Temp work through Sargent’s Personnel Agency in between acting jobs. This would not have been possible had I not had so much experience as a secretary. As I make my way through life now I do spend time reflecting on what I would have done differently throughout my college years.
I have no regrets about getting my degree in something I am truly passionate about. Theatre has given me excellent analytical, multi-tasking, public speaking, networking, and many more valuable skills in today’s world. Yet, if I could go back I think I would have possibly chosen a different University to attend for my degree. The main reason for this is that I wish my school would have had more in terms of internship opportunities and practicums. Getting actual on the job experience would have been much more valuable than just sitting in the classroom. I would have liked to have gotten experience in filmmaking, journalism, or working at an actual TV station. Just hands-on lessons that would have made me more of a competitor once I got out into the job market. When it comes to internships I wish I would have realized that my school didn’t have many connections for summer theatre internships. These types of internships are highly difficult to attain and are sparse when it comes to acquiring housing for the duration of the summer. This is something to consider when you are looking at colleges to attend.
When I was in school I was always a hard worker and looking back I think I should have allowed myself to have a lot more fun. I am a first generation college student and while I graduated with honors it would have been good for me to let loose a bit too. I was so grateful for the chance to attend college that I was a complete nerd! I always wanted to get that A. Then there is also the fact that I should have considered that I wouldn’t have the money to move out of my house right away. In my small town there aren’t that many acting opportunities so I frequently have to make long trips to cities like Pittsburgh for theatre work. Many of the acting opportunities are non-paying. Well actors need to eat to so I am rarely willing to work for free. If you are interested in theatre and want to have opportunities post-graduation then start saving when you are in high school. In my Marketing Yourself as an Actor class my Theatre teacher recommended that you have at least $5,000-$8,000 when you move to either Los Angeles or New York City. Obviously with school loans I do not have such money.
The basic idea is to just plan ahead if you intend on choosing a major you love as opposed to one that has the best money making prospects. Choose a school with practicums and internships. Start saving money now! Also have a backup plan and opt for financial aid in the form of work-study if you can. Getting work experience while in college will be highly beneficial to you once you graduate.