Performing arts students get creative in job search

by Emma Guo | 11/8/16 12:00am

At Dartmouth, the Center of Professional Development is closely associated with corporate recruiting in the minds of students. For students seeking careers in the performing arts, the path to finding opportunities is often a more creative one. Students sometimes use the CPD, but also rely on academic departments.

Several theater students noted that the department itself is the best resource for jobs and internships. Max Samuels ’15, as well as theater majors Julie Solomon ’17 and Virginia Ogden ’18, said that opportunities provided by the theater department and old-fashioned networking have proven helpful.

For example, the theater department offers Theater 65 “Drama in Performance” over the summer. The course includes an internship with the New York Theatre Workshop and the chance to make connections in the industry. Solomon stated that the connections she made through the course were pivotal in helping her get an internship at the Drama League of New York.

Samuels also emphasized the importance of networking in the theater world.

“It’s very important to be open and make yourself available for opportunities that will inevitably come by,” Samuels said.

Samuels participated in the “Off the Green” program, traveling to New York City with 20 other students in 2014. The CPD hosts the “Off the Green” program for students interested in a wide array of opportunities, such as biotech and life sciences, nonprofits and, more recently, film and entertainment. The film and entertainment program provides students the opportunity to visit a number of theater and production companies in New York and Los Angeles. In addition, the CPD hosts a networking evening to connect students and alumni unable to meet during the day program.

“I met tons of well-established alumni, and it really made me aware of just how big the Dartmouth theater community is,” Samuels said.

Samuels stated that while he did not obtain any internships or career opportunities from the CPD, the networking and alumni meetings were incredibly helpful.

For performing arts students who are not participating in the well-trodden path of corporate recruiting, the CPD offers resources such as DartBoard and the Liberal Arts Career Network. DartBoard provides students with career help such as job and internship listings and resume and cover letter guides. LACN is an association of 35 liberal arts colleges aiming to assist students in obtaining opportunities across industries. Thousands of postings are listed on DartBoard and LACN for students to pursue in their respective fields.

In 2015, the CPD posted 103 arts career opportunities online for students, CPD director Roger Woolsey said. These opportunities included internships at museums, galleries and magazines. It was unspecified how many of these opportunities were targeted towards students intending to pursue the performing arts specifically.

Woolsey advised students in the arts to seek out face-to-face help with members of the CPD staff who can direct them towards opportunities.

Although the CPD has advisors and posts opportunities on DartBoard for the arts, both Solomon and Ogden have not felt inclined to reach out to the CPD for help with career-searches. Solomon stated that she feels that the CPD would do little to help her pursue opportunities due to the niche that theater fulfills in the job market.

“I haven’t gone to the CPD for help with resumes because theater resumes are very different from other types of resumes,” Solomon said. “I don’t think that people outside of the theater department would know a lot about that.”

Although the CPD might seem to cater solely towards students involved in corporate recruiting, Woolsey clarified that the vast amount of opportunities with banks, consulting and technology firms is due to the fact that they spend more capital hiring because they experience large amounts of turnover. Thus, these corporations make a lot more visits to campus.

“There are a number of employers in the arts that are more need-based, so we see a lot of those employment opportunities in the spring,” Woolsey said.

When asked why they have never used the CPD for internship and job searches, Solomon and Ogden agreed that the lack of visits from professional artists and theater companies made them less inclined to reach out to the CPD for help.

“It’s obviously not a part of corporate recruiting, but it would be incredible if more theater artists or companies looking for people came to campus,” Solomon said. “I don’t know where to start with the CPD, and the theater department is especially helpful with introducing us to people.”