Author Topic: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career  (Read 5884 times)

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MatthewShiner

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CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« on: Jul 05, 2010, 07:08 pm »
When my brother graduate with a degree in business (or some sort of real world career major), he has the job, company car, business card, the whole nine yards.  And his career has been a pretty linear growth over the years.

I find one of the very awkward and frustrating thing about a career in stage management is there is no linear growth, there is no clear path.  We often spend too much time looking for the next job, that we are rarely in the position to figure out what the next step in our career should be.  We can easily get caught up in jobs, that may loose the sight on how advance the career.  And often, to be honest, we may never find a place in our cycle of jobs to take a look at the bigger picture.

I was wondering how people have dealt with this in their lives?  Do we just keep looking for the job, and hope for the career advancement?  (I mean eventually . . . I mean eventually, you should be moving forward.)  Do we get frustrated and just give up?

I know that I took a huge risk leaving behind a secure, full time stage management to get to geographically shake myself up . . . by moving to a larger market with more growth opportunity.  I really didnít know, other then leaving stage management of live theater, how I was going to prompt my career to grow.  Itís not about making more money in the short term . . . itís about overall growth, and a potential of making money further down the line, and also about new challenges in a new environment that will make the job interesting enough to continue (dealing with the boredom factor).

In a career where luck, opportunity, connections and so many other things out of our control affect our career, how do we take control of it and help it move along the path we would like for it to go?
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Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

loebtmc

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #1 on: Jul 05, 2010, 07:52 pm »
This is a great topic. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason for this kind of upward movement. Especially in an industry with no job security, one thing is for sure - developing relationships is the most important thing.

Some people seem to be really good at being in the right place to meet the right folks at the right time and work their way up the ladder to bigger and bigger contracts, some of us find we have a niche that we can't seem to leave, but that allows fairly constant work. One SM I know worked his way up by observing on every show he could, then staying in touch, another worked with the producers back when he was acting, another just knows how to work the schmooze and turns that into work again and again (common theme, yes, they are all men) - and yes, nowawdays this is an arena where college can be an asset because you meet and work and make an impression on folks who are working. And somethings you have no control over: with the last big turnover at our biggest local AEA house, we all know they hire young pretty women just out of school and straight young men - meaning all the folks w years of service no longer have jobs.

I am taking steps by observing every chance I get, asking intelligent questions, keeping my resume clean and making sure the folks I work with will want to refer me as well as work with me again, and sending my resume to any and every production house around. And hopefully, one of these will turn into work!
« Last Edit: Jul 06, 2010, 02:29 am by loebtmc »

MatthewShiner

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #2 on: Jul 05, 2010, 11:32 pm »
I do wish the career was less and less about who you know, and more and more about the experience you carry and type of stage manager you are.  The system in place tends to reinforce bad stage managers who stick with it . . . and young stage managers who will work for next to nothing.

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DeeCap

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #3 on: Jul 06, 2010, 11:16 am »
A few years ago I landed the "job of my dreams": a resident stage manager at a LORT theatre.

A few months after I was settled and began to think: "Is this it? What's next?".  I could have easily stayed there for years and years. Since my job was secure, I took the time to figure out if I did have a next step. More specifically, I took piano lessons to learn how to read music, researched going back to school, researched getting into film. I dabbled in all of these things to see what was right.

Two years later I decided that  it was going back to school and I left my "dream job". What helped me was that I took the time. There was no rush for me. I was lucky.

Not to get too personal, but based from what I read on this site you are just a few short steps from landing a Broadway gig. And you don't have to answer this, but when you do get it, will you be satisfied? Will there be no more steps? If so, how will you handle that?
(and again I apologize if I'm getting too personal)

MatthewShiner

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #4 on: Jul 06, 2010, 12:20 pm »
Not to get too personal, but based from what I read on this site you are just a few short steps from landing a Broadway gig. And you don't have to answer this, but when you do get it, will you be satisfied? Will there be no more steps? If so, how will you handle that?
(and again I apologize if I'm getting too personal)


A few short steps away from a Broadway show . . . well, those can be big short steps. 

What will satisfy me . . . I think it's becoming less and less about a destination and more and more about the journey. 

For me, the reasons to work more in commercial theatre are all about means to and ends.  One, to be able to work and stay in one location to spend more time with my partner.  Two, make more money when I am working, so I can take stretches of time off.  Three, make more money when I am working, so I can pick and choose and the projects I work on.  So, I am not seeing Broadway or Commercial theatre as the end, but as a step in my career growth.  I am also looking down the line to teach, and the more variety of experiences I can get on my resume, the better.    I also know the type of shows I enjoy working on lend themselves to being produced in a commercial theatrical setting.

I know that Broadway or other commercial theatre will not be the answer to all my career goals - and I know myself well enough now to know that there is really not one thing that will satisfy me.  (Other then a regional theatre type job in a big city that does a variety of work, allows me to both PSM and ASM, pays me Production Contract money, and allows me to rehearse a show every three months, and take off time when I want - oh, and a teaching component . .  .)

And it's just a fact of life, that there is often a termination point in this career when you are just done with the career or the career is done with you.  What next?  Who knows.  I don't think you can plan that far in advance.  One of the reasons I went to grad school was to open up teaching as a possibility.  I am intrigued now by producing, company management and other elements of that world.  I would also be interested in Production Management.  Outside of theatre, I feel like I can bring a lot of my skills to other areas. 

But, you do hit on something I feel very strongly about the fact this career can feel a lot like a drug addicition - where you are looking not only for you next "hit" (job), but also find that you need to find a bigger and bigger "hit" to give you the same buzz.  Which is good, because you often need to find the intangible things - like the buzz you get from the job - to make up for what you don't make in pay, status, or hours.

« Last Edit: Jul 06, 2010, 12:28 pm by MatthewShiner »
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DeeCap

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #5 on: Jul 06, 2010, 01:33 pm »
Well, they seem like short steps from this angle...

I also think it feels like one can focus only on the tree (job) and forget the whole forest (life).

MatthewShiner

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #6 on: Jul 06, 2010, 01:39 pm »
I also think it feels like one can focus only on the tree (job) and forget the whole forest (life).

Yes, it does feel like that at times . . . the problem is does the forest suffer for a single tree? 

And regarding those steps . . . we shall see what the forest has waiting for me.
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BLee

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #7 on: Jul 06, 2010, 03:11 pm »
All this talk of forests makes me want to go hiking...

If there is one thing I am rapidly learning in my early career is that nothing can be planned and the only way to success is to take opportunities as they knock and don't take for granted what is happening this very moment.

Case in point, when I was younger and worked a non-theatre job in L.A. for a couple of weeks I came away saying "I will never live in L.A." Fast forward six years and where am I going to grad school? Orange County. Where am I working this summer? Santa Barbara. I'm circling in on L.A. and have learned my lesson about deciding life choices before I see my opportunities.
XX. The only valid excuse for missing one's cue is death.
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Sarah

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #8 on: Jul 07, 2010, 12:43 am »
Quote
And regarding those steps . . . we shall see what the forest has waiting for me.

"You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say."

Huzzah, Matthew, going along for the ride.

Jessie_K

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #9 on: Jul 07, 2010, 04:34 am »
A couple of years ago, I took my "dream job" as well.  I packed up my life and moved abroad to work for a job that was a "big step."  When I first took the job, I had thoughts along the lines of, "I have no idea what my next step would be."  I was of course very happy and satisfied both job and career-wise, but couldn't see what path I would follow after the job came to a close.

Now, two years later, I still don't have those answers, but I do have a lot more experience.  Whenever I move on to my next job, I am sure that it will be a step forward.  I have realized that career steps don't always mean a bigger show or bigger salary or bigger name company.  Though all of those have been my priorities in the past, when I start looking for another job I think I might concentrate more or location/lifestyle and working with people that I like.
 

DeeCap

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #10 on: Jul 07, 2010, 11:28 am »
I also think it feels like one can focus only on the tree (job) and forget the whole forest (life).

Yes, it does feel like that at times . . . the problem is does the forest suffer for a single tree? 

And regarding those steps . . . we shall see what the forest has waiting for me.

It did for me.
I was too focused at my dream job that I forgot everything else. It took one horrible show to realize that the job won't be as loyal to me as I was to it.

Then it goes back to the ongoing struggle in this field which is work/life balance.....

SMrose

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #11 on: Jul 07, 2010, 01:28 pm »
Sometimes the job/career finds you.  My SM training and SM/PSM jobs have lead me to areas in the performing arts I never would have planed fo myself.  I have worked for a large city event center, first as a house technician and then as its event manager (all that SM knowledge was handy).  I was invited to join the local IATSE and spent 10 years (while event mgr @ the center) working on and off for them---I would not have traded the experience of being a "hand" on large and small events/shows: learning skills that made me even better as an SM.   Now, I'm teaching at a small university (adjunct instructor) in the theatre department. I am part of a small team that has taken a department on the brink of failure to viable, appreciated and growing. I see my career path often as lateral and perhaps upward in some instances.  Each "career" adds to my overall knowledge.
Letting the "universe" know that I was open to what was out there---it found me.

MatthewShiner

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #12 on: Jul 07, 2010, 01:38 pm »
Being open to what the universe brings you is great, but the real question is how do you take control of the career?  How can you make the opportunities happen?  How can you shake up your career and take it to the next level? 

And finding the balance between a personal life and a professional life is a whole other thread . . . but I can say often when my career seems to be in shambles, my personal life is most happy and the other way around.  Ironic, huh?
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hbelden

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #13 on: Jul 07, 2010, 01:44 pm »
We do have a fairly striated hierarchy of theatres in the U.S.  As I was coming up through the ranks, I looked for jobs in the smaller theatres and could afford to work for only a couple hundred dollars a week.  I think, at that level, that since I just kept working, I slowly came to the notice of larger theatres.  I also showed that I could get hired repeatedly at theatres.  I set up interviews at the next level of theatre, and I kept in touch with those theatres as I worked.  After a couple of years, the larger theatres called me.

I also paid attention to what was happening in the theatre community.  When I saw in the fall that a mid-size theatre in my area was getting a new Artistic Director, I set up an interview with that theatre's production manager (they were looking for an SM for a reading).  At that interview, I mentioned that I was very interested in the new A.D.'s first show that spring.  The production manager was non-committal about that but I did get the reading.  After I aced the reading (of course), they offered me the job to stage manage the A.D.'s first show.  I wasn't so very interested artistically in that particular show, and I did turn down a show that paid more money per week, but it was the start of a great relationship with that A.D. that led to several more shows over the years, and is now a resident PSM job with that theatre.

I tell that story just to make concrete an example of "networking".  I invested in smaller projects (the reading, the first show) to create a relationship with people who would hire me in the future.

I also try to keep in touch with the large theatres.  They have staff that stick around for years, of course; I think they're all in the middle of a twenty-year run, just about.  But since they know that I'm around and working constantly, I'm betting that some year I'll get the call and be able to move on up.  The point is, putting yourself in a place to be able to accept the opportunity when it arises.
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SMrose

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Re: CAREER GROWTH: Taking control of your career
« Reply #14 on: Jul 07, 2010, 03:57 pm »
Being open to what the universe brings you is great, but the real question is how do you take control of the career?  How can you make the opportunities happen?  How can you shake up your career and take it to the next level? 

I would ask yourself: what do I want from my career? Take some time to list your career goals, what do you want next? And after that? What time period are you looking at that's reasonable to accomplish these goals? What do you feel you have to do to accomplish/move your career forward? 

 

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