Author Topic: Cutting the Cord  (Read 3190 times)

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Cutting the Cord
« on: Feb 10, 2014, 12:06 am »
I applied to several stage management internships over the summer. None of them are close to my hometown or even in the same state. Why I showed my father (who is in HR) my cover letter he started questioning me about applying for internships so far away (emphasizing on the fact that I don't have a car). After calming him down and vowing to never show him a cover letter again, I sent my parents a list of all of the theatre companies was going to apply to, how much they pay, and if housing is included (all of them had housing). My mom said to just apply and we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Two months and several applications later, I got an interview for a company in Upstate New York. I call to share with my mother the good news and the first thing she does it start question my choice of location and how I am going to get there and whatnot. She kept asking me questions I answered months ago when I told her where I was applying.
MOM: Does this internship pay?
ME: Yes, there is a small stipend and housing.
MOM: Is the housing free or do you have to pay for what they give you.
ME: It’s provided. They house interns in dorms or block of apartments they own or something like that.
MOM: And this is only for the summer?
ME: Yes, summer season are typically from Mid-May to Mid-August.
MOM: What are your plans after that?
ME: I gave you a list of 2014-2015 season internships. The theatre season starts in September and runs through May. I've told you all this before.
I don’t know. These conversations with my parents are tiring and I feel like they are rooting for me to fail. I don’t have it like them where I can find a job in my hometown. Sure there’s a community theatre, but how is that going to look on my resume verses an internship at a regional theatre? My father keeps questioning why I choose to do an internship verses finding a “real job.” I keep telling him that it is where I have to start if I want to break out into the professional world. Besides I could have done an internship when I wanted to a couple years ago, but my parents said no. There are tons of seniors in my class who interned during the summer in-between their junior and senior year, who are now ready to ASM or even SM at production companies. We’ll they held me back for too long. I do I tell them, that every time I talk about my future I feel like they are belittling me? That I want their support, not their opinion?
« Last Edit: Feb 10, 2014, 09:16 am by lab320 »


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Re: Cutting the Cord
« Reply #1 on: Feb 10, 2014, 12:39 am »
First of all, look up an old thread about justifying our profession to civilians like your folks - there is some good info that might be of use. I am not particularly lucid this evening. But -

Lots of young people face the same issues - how are you going to get there, how are you going to get around once there, where do you live, how will you pay for food etc. This is the time to learn, this is how you learn. Presuming you are working on becoming an adult, you can remind your folks that it is vital you start figuring out how to do these things so you can survive as an adult in the world. Our profession is all about handling details and making things work, so solving all these still-unknown issues is a great way to find out that this is the right profession for you as well as what you are capable of accomplishing on your own.

And, college is the time to experiment, to try things out, to discover what you do or don't want to do. Isn't it better (tell your parents) to do this internship now and know now; you can always get a normal job but these opportunities go away once you are no longer a college kid. This is a great experience that will either lead you onward into your career, or be a wonderful memory of your wild college days when you are settled in something far more normal, right?

Take a deep breath. It's hard for parents to see their kids as young adults, to let go of them and let them walk into their own lives. Your parents are always going to be concerned about you, your ability to make it on your own, your happiness, right? And ours is a challenging, itinerant profession without any guarantees, so their worry is justified. But if it makes you happy, they will see that. And if you can introduce them to working SMs who are making a living, that might calm their nerves as well.

And - I should add - my dad never ever "got" tech week and why I wasn't available at certain times to drop everything and call or visit, in spite of my earning my living as a stage manager for some 40 years now.
« Last Edit: Feb 10, 2014, 12:47 am by loebtmc »



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Re: Cutting the Chord
« Reply #2 on: Feb 10, 2014, 12:40 am »
I kind of understand where you are in this. While my family seems a little more supportive they just don't seem to understand why a small credit at home is not as good as an out of state larger company credit.
I would try and remind your parents that this is a very different environment and job process then most business aimed career fields and that they need to trust that you are going to make the best decisions for yourself. Gently but firmly tell them this is the way things work and that in order for you to achieve your goals these are the typical steps. There have been several times when my parents say to me we want you to try this particular thing and know it is probably not the best option for my career path. I will look into what they want me to do to show that I respect their thoughts then come back and say while that is a fine idea this other option will be better for my career because of x reasons.
I have found with my dad (who is in charge of hiring at his company) that he will have his opinions on what I do and if I show I took that into consideration and compare something else and show why its better he is at least willing to listen. He doesn't always agree but then he still felt like he had a say.
Good luck and stay strong!


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Re: Cutting the Cord
« Reply #3 on: Feb 15, 2014, 11:17 am »
I had that same conversation with my parents when I started out. Unless they are in the business, civilians have no idea how it works.

Eventually I had to seek advice elsewhere and tell my parents that I know what I'm doing (even if I didn't)

Try to keep in mind that their questions are out of love; they want to see you successful. Right now their definition of successful is a little different than your definition. 


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Re: Cutting the Cord
« Reply #4 on: Feb 15, 2014, 01:08 pm »
But, don't discount your parents advice.

I know my parents "real world" advice help me guide my career early, and having their support (both emotional and financial) made my early days in theater possible.  The sooner you can get them to understand your world, the better - if you do indeed make a career out of this . . . they will be dealing with it for a long time.

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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.



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Re: Cutting the Cord
« Reply #5 on: Feb 16, 2014, 08:37 pm »
I would have to say that I agree with Matthew Shiner.

Sometimes parent's don't really understand working in theatre, but they do have valid points.

Every time I tell my parents about a new contract or gig, I get asked, "Do they house you?"

At first I was hesitant-why did it matter?

But the more I've worked, the more I've learned to ask that question myself. Housing is a big cost, and if you're only working a four month contract somewhere, it can be a big problem.

The question they used to ask me are now questions I ask before I accept a job.
Branden Scott Stewart

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-The West Wing


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Re: Cutting the Cord
« Reply #6 on: Feb 17, 2014, 01:49 pm »
I don't know what your financial situation is with your parents but that plays a big part. I didn't have this issue cause I mostly told my parents what I would be doing, of course I could only do that because I was financially independent of them That being said I ALWAYS listen to my parents advice.  Before  I accept any offer I call my mom to go over it, I may not always agree with what she says and may have to use my own knowledge of the business but it is still helpful. If I am getting a new job or moving I  include them and let them know that I have a good plan in place, that goes a long way towards building their confidence in you.  Just don't spend too much time being angry with them for not understanding, it's not their fault. I would just remember that even though it seems like they are trying to prevent you from going after your dreams, they do it with your best intentions in mind. As they say "Parents just don't understand."
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Re: Cutting the Cord
« Reply #7 on: Feb 17, 2014, 02:45 pm »
I'm at the stage in life where my close friends have or are starting families.  I don't have kids myself, but in conversations I've had with friends of mine that are parents - once you become a parent every fear you have ever worried about in life is surpassed with:

1) Your children suffering death or some great tragedy.
2) Failure to provide for your family.
3) Your children failing.

Though it's frustrating, know it's coming from a good place.

It'd be interesting to have some of the SMs around here who are parents chime in on this.
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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