Author Topic: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships  (Read 2987 times)

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southernsoprano

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Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« on: Mar 12, 2016, 01:27 am »
Hello all! I'm in a majorly stressful, time-sensitive bind, and could really use some advice.

So I'm a sophomore in college who just got into stage management this year (but I've always been in love with theatre + planned on working in the theatre industry in some capacity, so I've got a solid knowledge base). I need something to do this summer to build my SM résumé, since it's currently pretty slim.

Here's my problem: I've been spending my entire spring break writing cover letters for internships this summer - some of them definite reaches, and some that my production management professor thinks I have a decent shot at getting. BUT I just got offered an ASM gig for a small regional theatre festival. It's a month of work, $300/week plus overtime, and housing is included. Which is all unquestionably awesome, but I worry that I won't learn very much, since the show is so small (cast of two people) and it would only occupy a month of my entire summer. And while I absolutely welcome every learning opportunity that comes my way, I can't help but wonder if I should be doing better. I have to take the job or decline it by Monday.

Now, I haven't applied for any of the internships yet, since they all have application deadlines in the coming weeks. I really don't know what my chances are like for getting any of them (plus many are unpaid with no housing), so I'm tempted to take the safe bet I currently have, take another academic year to build my overall theatre management/arts administration résumé, and then be really competitive for internships next summer (summer before senior year). But I don't want to miss out on the internship scene if that's something I *should* be doing right now. I don't know exactly what I want to do postgrad, but it will be something in the realm of arts admin, if that helps.

Wow that was a huge amount of context, but I guess my core question is: is it okay to take on some solid, but unprestigious paid work the summer before junior year OR should I really be trying to snag an awesome internship?

"You are enough, you are so enough, it's unbelievable how enough you are!" - Sierra Boggess

KMC

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #1 on: Mar 12, 2016, 04:26 am »
It certainly depends on the internship, but many internships (SM or otherwise) are a way for theatres to source free labor to use essentially as a PA.  I think you'd be surprised how much you can learn even on a small show.  Theatre doesn't start or end at large production musical theatre.  The skills you pick up on a two person show will provide you the tools to manage people in a more intimate setting, which is just as valuable as managing a large show.  As far as resume credits go, I'd suggest the ASM credit will be better-received than the intern credit.

And besides - the point of your education is to obtain SM/ASM gigs, correct?  If you're being offered an ASM gig, isn't that the objective?   
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

SMAshlee

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #2 on: Mar 12, 2016, 10:09 am »
There is plenty to learn from a small cast, and not only that, I'm guessing is probably a space you've not worked in before. I was really fortunate when I was in college; the department had just built a new theatre space, complete with an amazing black box and concert hall for the music department. I was spoiled right out of the gate, and haven't found anything like it since. Every space is different.

I agree with KMC in that an ASM resume credit is most likely better received. However, I can see how an internship and the chance at listing more shows on your resume at the end of the summer has great appeal. But that's just it, since you haven't actually applied for the internships, I'd go with the sure thing.

On a side note, have you asked the theater with the ASM offer if there is something else you could do in order to prolong the summer? Maybe they could use a hand in the box office or the scene shop? It never hurts to ask, and would expose you to another side of theatre.

Gigs usually mean hard decisions. When you want them, no one is hiring, and when you're booked, you'll get 5 more offers!

Best of luck!!

southernsoprano

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #3 on: Mar 12, 2016, 02:03 pm »
Wow thank you guys so much for your speedy replies! I really appreciate it.

KMC, your thought about managing people in an intimate setting is so spot-on. I hadn't thought about it that way, probably since my first ASM gig was me getting thrown in as a last-minute addition to the SM team of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. I think that established "flashy musical with guns and blood FX and intricate fly system work" as my baseline for the type of shows I should be seeking out, and you're so right about developing my skill set on a smaller, lower-stakes scale.

SMAshlee, it is a space I've ASMed in before - the theatre festival actually takes place at my university's theater - and that's actually part of my trepidation in taking the gig. But you're definitely right about about checking in with the scene shop to see if they could use some help - I know the scene shop hours skew toward the morning whereas rehearsal hours are more afternoon/evening, so maybe it could work out. That's the one part of SMing that scares me a bit - I'm enamored with paperwork, hyper-organized, and really good with people, but my shop skills are completely nonexistent. I can sew on a button and mend a seam rip, but if a light breaks, I'm completely useless.

All in all, I think I'm going to take the job. My production management professor thinks I should hold out for the internships, but if I did this show, I could take a media studies class at my university during the first month of the summer before the gig. I'm applying to an interdisciplinary major program in Arts Administration next fall, and need to bulk up the media studies part of my transcript, so I think that would be a great opportunity to do it. And it would be nice to have some paid summer work now so that when I really try to get an internship next summer, I can worry a little less about paid vs. unpaid.

Again, thanks so much for your responses. I'm still very new to all of this, so whenever I see posts like "yeah I casually interned at Arena and Second Stage and Wicked and MTC" from undergrads/grads, I freak out a little bit and feel like I'm way too behind to ever "catch up," so to speak.
"You are enough, you are so enough, it's unbelievable how enough you are!" - Sierra Boggess

SMAshlee

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #4 on: Mar 12, 2016, 02:32 pm »
I'm still very new to all of this, so whenever I see posts like "yeah I casually interned at Arena and Second Stage and Wicked and MTC" from undergrads/grads, I freak out a little bit and feel like I'm way too behind to ever "catch up," so to speak.

You are not behind! I promise. We all have different backgrounds and no one way is the 'right' way. Trust in your skills and always try to learn something from whatever situation you find yourself in next.

bex

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #5 on: Mar 12, 2016, 06:08 pm »
My opinions, similar to those already offered:
1. Don't do an unpaid internship. Even if they're paying $100/week + housing, that's better than unpaid. $300/week + housing is better than a lot of professional PA gigs I've worked.
2. A professional credit carries more weight on a resume than an internship credit. You're just a sophomore- you've got 2 more summers while still in college to do a full-summer internship, and having a credit on a show outside of an educational setting is only going to increase your chances of being hired for a good internship next summer.
3. If you've been working on big splashy musicals, a two-hander will flex different SM muscles. It also gives more breadth to your resume- "look, I've done big shows AND small shows! See how versatile I am?"
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

SMMeade

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #6 on: Mar 14, 2016, 03:02 am »
My opinions, similar to those already offered:
 $300/week + housing is better than a lot of professional PA gigs I've worked.

Just adding a vigorous head nod here.

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Michelle R. Wood

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #7 on: Mar 14, 2016, 01:50 pm »
Quote
Quote from: bex on Mar 12, 2016, 06:08 pm

    My opinions, similar to those already offered:
     $300/week + housing is better than a lot of professional PA gigs I've worked.


Just adding a vigorous head nod here.

I third that statement: I would LOVE to get that kind of pay plus housing right now. I'm of the opinion it's always great to get paid to learn (as opposed to the other way around).  :)
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." -- Thomas Edison (Harper's Magazine, 1932)

megf

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #8 on: Mar 14, 2016, 02:16 pm »
I'll jump on the bandwagon: take the paid gig. Not because it will be wildly lucrative, or let you to take the media class, or because it's a different type of show than you usually do. Take it because your time is valuable.

If you pursue a stage management career after college, or any other career in arts management/leadership, justifying the value of your time will be part of every interview, negotiation, grant application or annual review. The sooner you begin practicing this type of advocacy for yourself, the more fluent you will be when the stakes are higher.

KMC

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Re: Guaranteed Summer Stock vs. Potential Internships
« Reply #9 on: Mar 14, 2016, 02:31 pm »
I'll jump on the bandwagon: take the paid gig. Not because it will be wildly lucrative, or let you to take the media class, or because it's a different type of show than you usually do. Take it because your time is valuable.

If you pursue a stage management career after college, or any other career in arts management/leadership, justifying the value of your time will be part of every interview, negotiation, grant application or annual review. The sooner you begin practicing this type of advocacy for yourself, the more fluent you will be when the stakes are higher.

Well said, Meg!
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

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