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Give Me Something to Work With: or what exactly this intern is doing

July 11, 2012

I have been a working girl for three weeks now. But I’m not working the fast food drive-through or spending another summer at day camp—I’m the new Assistant House Manager!

This is my first “real” theatre job and it was a great moment for me to tell my parents that yes, their daughter actually is going to be working for a theatre and putting that major to good use. (Hey…Mom and Dad…read this). I started looking last November for an internship. Now that I’m out of school for the summer, I’m spending my time working to afford school and to get away from home again. My only requirements in job searching was that it had to be a paid internship and that it had housing available. Yes, I ended up fulfilling both of those requirements, go me!

I submitted my resume for Directing internships, Stage Management, Box Office, Producing, House Management, Literary Management, you name it. There’s no How To Get a Job in Theatre 101 class yet so I did a lot of Google searches; I didn’t know where else to start. This was very much a self-motivated search and learning as I go along. I’m young, I don’t have a lot of credits so I just kept putting my name out there and sending out more applications for every rejection I got. Some of those applications needed references—I’m a college student with no past employers; It was only then did my professors step in to help write me a letter of recommendation. I may lack the experience and be new to the world of professional theatre, but my manager said that they gave such great recommendations that they hired me anyways. Even more amazing than just that though, I actually was hired by the biggest theatre company I applied to that I did, thinking that they would just toss it out most likely, especially since their season runs into October and I still have to be in school but they emailed me to say that they had passed my application along to their downtown theatre, which only runs until August, and I got the job there.

It’s kind of funny…as soon as I get to call myself one of the upperclassmen, a big kid now—I’ve been knocked back down the totem pole again. I’m one of the very youngest working here this summer and one of the very, very few still in college. It’s a new hierarchy for me to figure out and it’s gotten a lot bigger. I’ve had one prior internship, with the local community theatre where I was the Child Handler (essentially, I was a glorified backstage babysitter) for Annie. This internship could not feel more different to me.

I’m still learning and mostly learning on my feet as I go along but I’m also being trusted to handle some of the responsibility on my own. I’m the second in command! That’s how I want to it to be: you have your job, but let me follow you around and take notes on how it all works while I run to Wegmans to get more flowers and stuff more playbills for tonight’s show. Is that guy over there really important and if he says “Jump”, I should jump? Tell me these things because I don’t know otherwise. Sure, I can go to the office and help cut paper but when I get back, I’d really like to learn some more about how house management works, okay? Um…where do we keep the extra toilet paper, for future notice? We’re down an usher for tonight? Okay, I can sell merchandise/ticket take/assist these audience members. Is there anything else you need me to do?

I feel really lucky. Not only did I end up with a fantastic job and I’m working with great people but I’m also not “Emily the Intern”. I actually don’t know Emily’s real name but ‘Emily’ is a Props Intern who hates her job. I carpooled with her once and listened to her rant the whole rive there about how much she hates her supervisor, how she’s not learning anything because they are always giving her jobs away to the Paints or the Wardrobe crew and that she’s not going to quit but she hopes they let her go. It was so overwhelming negative that I hitched a ride with someone else on the way back. I have not seen Emily the Props Intern since but we work at different theatres so it’s possible that she’s still there and still complaining.

I am not Emily the Props Intern. But Emily had a valid point: we are here to learn how to do the job and then to do it and we will. Just don’t forget to tell me to do the job or show me how to do it first. Among my many talents, mind-reading is not one of them. Worst-case scenario, I’ll use my best judgment, which so far seems to be working out. If you were willing to give me the job, I’m going to think you found me capable, even if I’ve never done House Management before because earlier this year, I’ve also never done a number of things that I’ve added to my resume since then. Never fear, the Assistant House Manager is here, bringing some youthful energy along for the ride!

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