Author Topic: Grad school or professional work?  (Read 3941 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

aimeeranelle

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Grad school or professional work?
« on: Sep 01, 2012, 11:55 am »
Hi,

I am graduating  in May with my Bachelor's degree in theatre and have worked as a stage manager for (now) four consecutive productions at my university, as well as writing an Honors Thesis on stage management. I know that I would like to go to graduate school at some point, but I would also like to work in the real world. Would you recommend persuing an MFA now or trying to get work?

Thanks!

MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #1 on: Sep 01, 2012, 01:26 pm »
Look back through previous posts, as we have had discussions about this before.

This is my quick advice.

Get to work.

You may figure out you don't need or want to go to grad school.

You will quickly figure out how marketable you are.

You will quickly figure out what skills or experience you are lacking, thus being able to see if grad school is the next logical step - and help you figure out what grad school will fulfill those needs (no two grad schools are equal)

I strongly discourage people to take on any additional debt before entering the work force as a stage manager - the market is crowded, job prospects are slim, and the year salary is slight.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

Likes:


juliec

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
  • Current Gig: Bonjour M. Gauguin (US Premiere)
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #2 on: Sep 01, 2012, 04:43 pm »
Agree with that for any type of grad school.  My life lessons: Do not go to school unless you have to, and don't think of it as a foregone conclusion.

Real life example of Matthew's points: My first year out of school I thought I "knew" I wanted to go to business school in a few years.  It was a rocky time and I thought more school would qualify me.

A few years down the line, I started applying...  even after a friend of mine (who had gone) looked at me dumb-founded and said, "Why would you go to business school?  People go THERE so they can have YOUR job."  I felt like a dolt, but it got me thinking.

Just after I received my acceptances, I was offered a job that I considered my "next step" anyway.  Needless to say, I did that instead and never went back to school...  Then I decided to abandon the corporate world entirely.  Boy am I glad I didn't take on a gajillion dollars in debt.  The only wasted time and money was spent on applying - but I learned something.  :)

I never went to grad school for theater either, but it didn't even cross my mind to do it that way.  It can be a disadvantage, but I learn way more on the job.  At this point (still early), it's going well enough that I don't think there I'll ever need to, and I certainly don't want to (it also helps to have fantastic mentors who never did).  I stage manage because I love being in rehearsal, listening to the music, and the logistical challenges of putting on a production - not because I enjoy reading or listening to lectures.  Pretty quickly, what you can do is what gets you the next job.  Work your way there, if you can.  Education is just a bullet on a resume.

If you do go (to *any* grad school), know what you're going to get out of it, and make sure you get it.

BeccaTheSM

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 153
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Becca Pickett
  • Affiliations: AEA, CAEA, SMA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #3 on: Sep 02, 2012, 09:38 am »
When I first graduated from undergrad, I had awesome dreams of Grad school (and I was specifically looking at Columbia). The biggest points of interest for me were the exposure to multiple genres (including dance which I was not very familiar with), the focused curriculum (as my undergrad was a generic BA, with moderate tech education), and the opportunities for networking with some big names in the industry. As a young, recent grad, the networking was the biggest point for me. I thought it would be an easy-in to the New York industry and would amount to instant success.

But it turned out I wasn't able to start grad school immediately after undergrad because I was working at a summerstock that ran through most of September. So I thought, "well, I'll apply next year..."
And then I worked for a year in New York, and realized: I am my own networking capacity. I am perfectly capable of meeting, working with, and earning the trust of more experienced Stage Managers. I don't need to be force-fed to a professor who happens to be a Broadway vet (alongside several other SMs each year, and after who knows how many years of teaching).

Pretty quickly, what you can do is what gets you the next job. 

juliec puts it as succinctly as it can get. Be a hard working, skilled SM, and people will notice. They'll tell their friends, and eventually the 'right' person will notice, and you'll land that dream job.
Or at least, you'll work. And that's a dream job in itself, right?
Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. - Stephen Sondheim

Likes:


MatthewShiner

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 2477
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: PSM THE LION KING NORTH AMERICAN TOUR; Assc Director and Production Supervisor HUNCHBACK International
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #4 on: Sep 02, 2012, 10:25 am »
Quote
And then I worked for a year in New York, and realized: I am my own networking capacity. I am perfectly capable of meeting, working with, and earning the trust of more experienced Stage Managers.

On the flip side, I know two Columbia grad students who were ASMing on Broadway shows within  6 months of graduating. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THOSE TYPES OF CONNECTIONS AND THEIR IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER.  Within a year of graduating from my grad program, I was PSMing at the La Jolla Playhouse because of the connections in Grad school.

And, let's not forget, 3 years in grad school versus 3 years of working experience may not be equal.  If you have things you need to work on, if you would benefit from the education, then go to grad school.  If you are just trying to rack up experience then maybe working is better for you.

Regardless, I don't think one should go from undergrad to grad school directly, unless, for example, you have took some time off at some point to work professionally.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

babens

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 320
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA/AGMA/SMA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #5 on: Sep 02, 2012, 02:40 pm »
I agree that some time in the real world between undergrad and grad school should be a must.  I could see the difference in my own program between the people who went right into it and those (like myself) who took the time off to see what is outside the walls of academia.  Those who did not wait tended to come across as still treating it much like undergrad, waiting to be spoon fed what they wanted to hear, and not really knowing what they wanted to get out of the program and what areas they needed to work on.

aimeeranelle

  • Tourist
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #6 on: Sep 03, 2012, 11:56 pm »
Thank you all for your advice!

My network is somewhat small (the beauty of living in and attending school in a small, northeast Texas town). I am just a little nervous about being able to land that first job to work my way up.

Bwoodbury

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 173
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • bridgetwoodbury.com
  • Affiliations: AEA, AGMA
  • Current Gig: Freelance SM
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #7 on: Sep 04, 2012, 02:09 pm »
If you do go (to *any* grad school), know what you're going to get out of it, and make sure you get it.

This. I'm in a Masters program in Arts Administration right now because I want to be prepared to take on a more active role in theatre management or advocacy/consulting if they present themselves. I know a lot of people who transitioned into those roles and then realized that, while SMs have most of skills that are necessary, sometimes they lack the information to use their skill set. I decided to go back to school rather than trying to learn by doing, because there are often a lot of legal and financial issues at stake in running an NPO or lobbying, so I picked a school with a curriculum that focuses on those things. On the other hand, I always knew I didn't want an MFA in Stage Management because I look back on my undergraduate experience and it's clear that I learned much more from doing than I did from sitting in the classroom.

juliec

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 28
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
  • Current Gig: Bonjour M. Gauguin (US Premiere)
  • Experience: Professional
Re: Grad school or professional work?
« Reply #8 on: Sep 26, 2012, 10:40 pm »
Matthew, I will wager that your work experience also helped you make some great connections and land some amazing jobs.  :)

Just a word about networks, because it sounds like that is your worry:
As Matthew says, network is important.  Since I was starting from zero, working enabled me to both develop a network *and* gain experience at the same time - and I knew what I needed *first* was the ability to do the job.  And I was lucky that the beginnings of a network came with it (sounds like that worked for Becca too...)

You never know where your network might come from - you can create one wherever you go, whether in school or outside.  I met an amazing Broadway vet because she toured on Wicked with the propsmaster/husband of a woman who works for my mom (random? yes!  impossible?  no!)

I do think location is a critical consideration for network - it sounds like Becca and I both live in urban areas and that probably helps us to find a great network.  I think it is smart of you to recognize that your location/environment has some bearing on who you get to know.

A word about jobs:
Keep working.

Lastly:  Everyone has their own path.  Yours may be different too.
« Last Edit: Oct 15, 2012, 05:35 am by juliec »

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
10 Replies
6301 Views
Last post Oct 13, 2006, 03:12 pm
by fuzzy_7
1 Replies
1858 Views
Last post Jul 31, 2009, 01:47 pm
by theatreannie
0 Replies
3542 Views
Last post Dec 01, 2010, 02:29 pm
by dereke90

riotous