My freshman year in college, I started looking for a job almost immediately because that's just me: a planner, someone who likes to be prepared, and someone who has never been good at doing nothing. I didn't want a job that would sit me at a desk for seven hours a week or work in something that I wasn't actually interested in. I love being engaged, inspired and getting to do things that matter. Luckily for me, I found a job opening in our Theatre, Dance and Performance Technology Program and it is something that has changed my entire direction and how I operate as a human. This being my senior year, I will be moving on from this job in just a handful of months and while I am going to miss my crew, my supervisors and my work so much; I know that as I move on into the "real world" I am more prepared than I ever could have been working as a desk assistant.
I could literally write a book on all of the experiences, lessons and challenges that I have experienced as a student stage technician but I'm going to stick to a few of the lessons that stick out as something that have shaped me as an emerging adult. If you've ever worked in theatre, you'll know that you get to interact with a wide variety of personalities that pop up in cast members, creative teams, working professionals, patrons and other crew members. This can be a smooth ride, or a rocky road depending on how you are able to navigate these different personalities. One of the most applicable skills that I have learned is how to work with people that, in the past, I would have crashed right into the ground with any project we worked on.
There's also a huge sense of pride in your work, while also having a healthy distance from it that most people develop in theatre. My niche is as a student scenic artist, so I really put a lot of time and effort into the sets and props that I help create for the stage. There have been tremendous sets that I still am incredibly proud to say I helped make a reality, but there have also been a number of times where the hard work and creativity spent was no longer needed. Be that for a change in direction, reallocation of funds, shortened deadlines, whatever! I learned to grow some tough skin about my work and understand that in the end, I just do my part and whatever happens, happens.
Being a student stage technician, I also really got hands-on practice using all kinds of power tools and equipment that I otherwise would never have used. I can cut perfect circles on a table saw using a jig, I can rig up a flat to fly on the rigging system, and I could list so many other tools that I've gotten to learn. So if nothing else, if I end up never working in theatre or some creative space again, I can do some pretty decent home repair projects without hiring a contractor!
After all is said and done, I firmly believe that this job has been the best choice I made in my college career. Yeah, it is also the bane of my existence every once and a while, but the people I've met, the experiences I've had and the badass things I've helped create are invaluable to me. With all of the skills that I've accumulated over the last three — going on four — years, nothing will stick with me more than the memories and connections I've made.
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