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What's ahead after COLLEGE Graduation for the MT Students

mtmom1234mtmom1234 3 replies1 threads New Member
edited April 2012 in Musical Theater Major
Hi everyone. I am a lurker, although I am quite late to this site after finding it only in the middle of my daughter's senior year auditioning. Now that all is said and done for her in regarding to being accepted and rejected, I would love to hear from the parents and students of MT college graduates and what you child is doing now. Is it in the MT field? Have they chosen a different path? Are they auditioning? How are they making a living?

My daughter is trying to decide between Boco, Elon and Penn State. She had her fair share of rejections from CMU, CCM, Syracuse and Emerson. My concern though, is the after. The time when she is out of college and making a go at life. Are your kids having success? Are they happy? What is life like for a MT college graduate? As my daughter has four years before she will be at that point, I guess I am trying to prepare what comes after the college studies.
edited April 2012
33 replies
Post edited by mtmom1234 on
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Replies to: What's ahead after COLLEGE Graduation for the MT Students

  • MichaelNKatMichaelNKat 4274 replies58 threads Senior Member
    mtmom1234, your questions are both well placed and well timed. In my view, getting accepted into a mt program is not only the culmination of the past four years or more of a very significant part of her life but also the beginning of the next phase which will require as much if not more planning and investment of time, thought and energy.

    My daughter graduated from a BFA MT program in May 2011. Once she got acclimated to her program and college life during her first semester, almost immediately she started thinking about where the next four years would take her and where and how she wanted to land in the real world upon graduation. For the ensuing 3 1/2 years, while being fully invested in her program responsibilities and life, she also sought out connections, employment, additional training and experience that both shaped her final decisions about post graduate life, created a foundation for it and provided the additional credentials she would need to pursue her objectives and goals. Along the way she decided she wanted to remain post graduation in the city where her college is located which has a great theatre scene, cultivated employment as a dancer/party motivator for an entertainment company into becoming its dance manager and only female MC, obtained several certifications in the fitness industry including a rigorous 6 month program to become a certified personal trainer and secured employment to support herself post graduation in jobs that draw on many of her talents that brought her to theatre to begin with and give her the flexibility and time to audition and be in shows.

    Today, almost a year later, my daughter is auditioning regularly, has been in shows and is working for that same entertainment company as well as for two very upscale athletic clubs as a personal trainer, spinning instructor and fitness professional. She works bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, other party events, teaches various fitness classes, does individual training both at the clubs and privately and all the while continues her performance training, auditioning and performing. Her weeks are jam packed scheduled 6 days per week and at times 7, often from rising at 4:30 a.m. and ending at midnight. While her schedule is frenetic and at times exhausting, she is deliriously happy and wouldn't change a thing. At this time and place in her life, she is doing exactly what she wants. Who knows where she will be a few years from now either with her performing or other areas of her life but at this point her life is fulfilling and gratifying and as a parent I couldn't be happier for her.
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  • onstageonstage 1242 replies8 threads Senior Member
    Very interesting, MNK, it's good to hear your daughter is doing well -- I've been wondering!

    My D's experience has been different but equally interesting and fulfilling. After graduating in 2010, she landed a summer theater job, and then moved into NYC over Labor Day weekend. On Tuesday morning she got herself up and went to an audition. On the way home, she stopped at a Starbuck's for coffee and internet. While browsing through Backstage, she saw an audition notice for an agent who books cruise lines. She electronically sent in a picture, resume, and video clips. An hour later, the agent called her; two hours later he called again with a job offer. Not in NYC even 24 hours, and already had to find a sublet for her apartment!

    She worked for that cruise line until last December. It was a wonderful job; not only did she get to meet people from all over the word and do some traveling, but she learned a totally different style of singing than she had focused on in college. She now has a repertoire of over 100 pop and rock songs, and that is coming in very handy for auditions. Her voice teacher back in NYC feels her vocal skills have really improved.

    My D returned to NYC in January (this time securing a 4-month sublet rather than signing a lease). Auditions are a bit slow at that time of year, so she was fortunate enough to get a good job as a restaurant in an upscale restaurant. Shifts are in the evening, so she has days free for auditions. She makes very good money and only has to work 3 or 4 nights a week to pay her bills and live comfortably. She has also had some odd jobs like movie and TV extra work and a few voiceovers.

    In addition, the restaurant job pays well enough that she has been able to make several trips to visit her boyfriend, who still works on the ship. She's able to cruise with him very inexpensively.

    Late February is the beginning of spring audition season, and by mid-March she had secured a summer theater job that runs from June to just after Labor Day. Her sublet ends at the beginning of May; again, thanks to the restaurant job, she has saved enough money to vacation for 3 weeks in New Zealand with her boyfriend.

    In September she'll be back in the city; the restaurant manager has promised she will have a job when she returns. She'll have to line up a sublet; but there always seems to be a room available as many of her college friends seem to be booking jobs outside of the city.

    Like MNK's daughter, mine is very happy and really enjoying her post-grad life. She has been fortunate enough to work pretty steadily in her chosen field.
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  • 2incollege1232incollege123 7 replies5 threads New Member
    I am so excited to see this thread and interested to hear what recent MT grads and their parents have to say...please share your stories! My D will be entering her last year at Tisch in fall 2012. She will need to take one class in summer 2013 and will actually receive her degree in September 2013. We have just begun to think about post-graduation and it's scary. We need your advice!

    There so many things to think about: agents, auditions, additional training, survival jobs, unions, apartments/leases....How does it all work - we don't know where to begin. There are so many different options (cruise lines, regional theater, national tours, NY theater, union/non-union, commercials, voiceovers...). My D has been taking advantage of various career-related workshops at school but still, it seems so daunting....What kinds of things can they do in their final year of college to better prepare for post-graduation?
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  • MomCaresMomCares 3058 replies90 threads Senior Member
    Great thread! If you haven't already read of Soozievt's D's many post-graduation employment stories you should look for those as well.

    I hear regularly from some parents of graduated Northwestern MTs and am THRILLED with the work their kids are getting, but based on what I've heard of them I suspect their kids are extraordinarily talented. I also know a fellow CC mom whose UMich MT just got her first Broadway show after having landed a tour straight out of school -- hoorah!!

    I hope those who have NOT found employment post-graduation will also share their experiences, though I'm guessing they may be less apt to be here or wish to speak up.

    For those who are posting, did your kids perform in a Senior Showcase, and if so did that result in an agent and, if so, have those agents found any work for your performer?

    I thought the NY Times article posted on another thread about ex-performers in Real Estate was also interesting and relevant to this discussion, and it struck me as funny since when I worked in theatre if someone made a mistake or turned in a sub-par performance fellow performers would jokingly ask, "Have you considered a career in real estate?" ;-D

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  • CarnegieMT2012CarnegieMT2012 100 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I graduate from school 1 month from today and am moving to NYC in a month and 3 days. I'll graduate with representation which I gained from my NYC showcase, and still have to go to LA in the beginning of May to showcase there. I feel very confident in my abilities as a performer, in my agency that i've chosen, that I will work my tush off and hopefully book work asap. Looking into other jobs currently for when I move there yes the real person job. But, I am ready to go!!
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  • oregon mt momoregon mt mom 47 replies2 threads Junior Member
    2incollege- Springboard program through American Theater Wing is a program for Juniors and Seniors in college to help prepare them for NYC.
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  • onstageonstage 1242 replies8 threads Senior Member
    Another good option for real-life preparation is the Tepper Semester in NYC. It is sponsored by Syracuse University, but students from other schools can apply as well. It's a full semester living and studying in NYC. Obviously MT students will study voice, dance, and acting; but a very important component of the program covers things like -- how to find an apartment, where to shop for groceries, how to do your taxes, how to find a survival job, dressing for success, how to invest your money, etc. This was invaluable to my daughter.

    And regarding MomCares' showcase question: yes, my D participated in showcase. However, she had already booked a summer job that year, and upon returning to NYC in the fall, booked her ship cruise without a NY agent. Then she was out of town for nearly a year and a half, so most of the contacts she had made from showcase were pretty out of date. You really have to actively maintain those relationships, which she couldn't do from the middle of the ocean!
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  • MomCaresMomCares 3058 replies90 threads Senior Member
    @CarnegieMT2012 - In the interest of those just entering college, are there specific aspects of your training that particularly contribute to your confidence -- contacts, classes on how the proMT world works, quality of your representation, reputation of CMU or...? Anything you now wish you'd learned more about before graduating?

    @onstage - I've heard that the timing of Showcases, and when a student actually plans to move to the city where they have representation, makes a big difference in the value of what's offered so it's interesting to hear your D's experience with that. Thanks!
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  • CarnegieMT2012CarnegieMT2012 100 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @momcares, it's pretty much all of the above. The only thing I wish I had had more experience in was actual agency meetings, but obviously that could only come with experience. I think anyone who is about to exit a 4 year program is just as gearing and ready to go as I am. But I feel incredibly prepared and supported by my faculty as well as our alumni. I think our alumni and their support really sets us apart.
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  • MomCaresMomCares 3058 replies90 threads Senior Member
    >> ... The only thing I wish I had had more experience in was actual agency meetings

    Any specific insight into those meeting that you can share having recently been through some? I've heard there's one agent who holds meetings in his condo, which seemed a little creepy to me but he apparently has a great reputation. I've also heard of kids getting 12-20 meetings after a NY showcase, which sounds overwhelming! Any "key learnings" about those meetings that you can share?
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  • pennmompennmom 78 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I'll jump in here, with another example of the many different paths a theater student can take after graduation. My son was a drama major, not MT, who graduated from CMU last May, but his post college career also includes music.
    His road thus far shows the sometimes odd and unexpected connections in the theater world, and the ways they can also expand beyond stage and screen.
    He and six of his classmates formed their own theater company, really starting as early as freshman year.
    They are very busy with lots of projects in NYC, but as a caveat, I have to say we are still partly supporting our son financially. Luckily, with a good scholarship and our help, he could graduate without debt. We and the other parents feel their company has promise, and we would hate to see them throw away all that education just to get a survival job which could put a close to some of their options.
    The company's course has been very much the "one thing leads to another" kind, and we're still not sure which projects will take off and which will be dead ends.
    For a brief history:
    They started writing their own plays with original music and shadow puppets for CMU's annual "Playground." They took one of their plays to the New York Fringe Festival between junior and senior year, where it won the overall excellence award. Someone who saw it invited them to Boston to perform, which they did right after graduating. They took a second play to the New York Fringe again, where they again won an overall excellence award. They followed with a three week run in Brooklyn.
    A music producer who saw them encouraged them to put together a CD of their music, which they did with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. They are having their CD release party at Joe's Pub Tuesday.
    Others who saw their plays have talked to them about working on an animation, working on a game, and writing and acting in a regular children's show on a Youtube channel. Somebody even hired them to write an original show for a friend's birthday.
    They are also continuing to work with a producer on another play they hope to open in Manhattan in the fall. They'll be workshopping it on Martha's Vineyard this summer.They have also been asked if they are interested in adapting a Neil Gaiman book for stage.
    One of the most surprising and unexpected connections came about last week, when a literary agent for a top agency saw them in concert, checked their website, and has signed them to write a young adult novel.
    Each of them is also doing some individual work, My son is writing the script and will probably perform in a puppet show.
    It's all quite exciting, confusing and open ended. As I said, I'm not quite sure where it will all lead, but that is the nature of this career. We're keeping our fingers crossed.
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  • CarnegieMT2012CarnegieMT2012 100 replies0 threads Junior Member
    ah yes @pennmom, i know exactly the group you are discussing.

    @momcares, i would never recommend meeting someone in their home, and you can usually tell when you look up the address whether its residential or not. And yes lots of kid experienced that much response from showcase, most of my class did. It's important to hear what the alumnis say since they have more insight about agencies and such like that. But it's really about asking the right questions. and being prepared to answer. My industry "big" told me that the number one question they all ask is "What do you see yourself doing right now on broadway?" so doing your research before the meeting is SUPER important. And really do your research. Even if you haven't seen shows, ask friends, family, etc, read reviews. It's important to be clear about your type and what kind of career you want.
    A lot of it is really like college auditions in the sense that you know what agency fits you best. You just get a feeling. Like when you step onto a campus and go, yes i want to be here for the next 4 years.
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  • MomCaresMomCares 3058 replies90 threads Senior Member
    @CarneieMT2012 - Thanks so much for sharing your insights!

    @pennmom - Sounds very exciting! I LOVE stories about kids who are making their own work rather than waiting for someone to cast them!! I really hope our D moves in that direction over the coming few years.
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  • glassharmonicaglassharmonica 3300 replies54 threads Senior Member
    pennmom, thanks for posting that-- very interesting and inspiring.
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  • pennmompennmom 78 replies0 threads Junior Member
    CarnegieMT - I figured you'd know who they were. They were rather infamous on campus, I guess.
    Good luck with your LA showcase and your future career. It sounds like your NY showcase went great.
    MomCares - A lot of the people who came to talk to the students, as well as their professors, recommended making your own work. Of course you can audition, too, but making your own work not only keeps your skills up and gets you noticed while you are waiting to be cast, it is very satisfying in its own right. I know a couple members of the company have turned down acting jobs to work on their own productions.
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  • bookmama22bookmama22 2285 replies0 threads Senior Member
    My d graduated in 2010 with a double BA degree in music and a theater concentration. We live in Nassau County and she did move into city fairly quickly not because she had the money to do so... but because of the timing it takes to commute and needing to be available for auditions/callbacks,etc.. She makes her money to pay rent as a nanny.. but she has been an intern at a major arts organization coordinating playwrights group, formed a professional production company with college friends, has been in several non-equity plays and one-act festivals, as well as an operatic group and sings in a chorus that performed twice at Carnegie Hall recently and will be recording with several major Broadway performers in the coming weeks. She has continued study with Shakespeare & Co, in Lenox and has a summer stock Shakespeare performance training program lined up for this summer for four weeks and does continues to read and evaluate plays for a different organization. All this is great..although she can pay her rent, she has not earned any money in two years other than her nanny/babysitting jobs and thank heavens we can still cover her on our insurance now till age 26. She is starting to think about grad school--MFA Acting programs, also interested in Arts Management/Arts Administration.
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  • FlossyFlossy 3118 replies3 threads Senior Member
    Thank much for that dose of reality. I shudder when my Freshman daughter mentions grad school.
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  • kaysmomkaysmom 506 replies1 threads Member
    My daughter's path has been even different than those mentioned above. She graduated in 2011 as a MT and headed to NYC the day after graduation. She signed with both an agent and a manager from her senior showcase and they lead her in the direction of doing more television and film auditions and very few in the musical theater field. If you would have asked her if this would be her path a year ago, she would most likely say no as she is truly at MT kid at heart but she was excited to try something unexpected and felt prepared through the on camera training that she received at CMU.

    In January, my daughter was cast in a recurring role on a cable television series. She filmed in 6 episodes of their 10 episode season and loved every second of being a part of such a great cast. It was an incredible first professional job. She is back to auditioning for everything from more tv/film to commercials and voiceover work and some theater and supplements her income working in a high end restaurant. She has been self supporting since the day she moved to the city and auditions quite a bit.

    This is a great thread and just begins to show all the different opportunities that are out there for these MT and acting grads! SoozieVT may chime in at some point and her daughter's journey so far is quite impressive and even different still! Some times I think, you have to be willing to think out of the box and go beyond your original plan to do what you love.

    Congrats to you CarnegieMT2012 on gaining representation from showcase. I wish you and your class so much success!

    Pennmom...we know your son's group well and have seen them perform many many times! They deserve every accolade that comes their way! Congrats on the signing from the literary agent!

    And congrats to all the grads who are out there making their way, doing what they love!!!
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  • MomCaresMomCares 3058 replies90 threads Senior Member
    One thing to consider with this thread and other info folks at CC have shared over the years is that even though most of the kids we hear about graduated from strong MT schools, I think we have yet to hear from one who has been completely paying their own way in life by ONLY performing in MT shows. I can think of three people I know of personally, total, who might have managed that for even their first two years out of school (they landed tours, Broadway or sit-downs straight out of school), and even they have had to survive significant gaps between jobs or probably will at some point.

    It's been my observation that in order to continue doing what they love, even the most talented and well-trained MTs need to be able to make their own work and have a VERY flexible skill set (usually including skills far beyond singing, dancing and acting).
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  • alwaysamomalwaysamom 12281 replies217 threads Senior Member
    That's a good point, MomCares. Offhand, I can think of one who has done so (there are probably others amidst the hundreds of actors I know but you're right, not many). The one young man I'm thinking of went to Brown. SoozieVt knows him, too. He booked a national tour before he graduated and took a leave of absence from school. In the intervening years, he has done two national tours, one show on Broadway, and has stayed with that show when it moved off-Broadway, and continues to perform there currently. In addition, he's done many readings, workshops, gigs of different kind, as well as returning to finish his final semester of school and graduating. He has supported himself entirely through performance and has been extremely successful for six years now. He is definitely unique.

    The other one who jumps to mind is a young man I've mentioned here before who didn't attend college at all but got a national tour at age 19. He has supported himself only by performance, but also does performance gigs on dark nights as he is first and foremost a musician. He may have had some parental support early on but not for long. He's been in several shows on Broadway for the past 10-11 years and recently moved to L.A. where he's pursuing his music (and living with his wife, a fellow MTer, who is currently a regular on a popular TV show). So, I suppose you could say he hasn't done it entirely himself because his wife has also contributed to their marriage but she, too, has only ever performed. No 'day jobs'. It's rare, though, that's for sure.

    My D is another one who has made her own work, to an extent. While still in college, she and some friends and a couple of professional actors formed a theatre company. She has always been a playwright as well as an actor, and she was a published writer while still in high school. She continued to write all through college as well as perform, and one summer, she and her theatre company friends, took one of her plays to the UK to a fringe festival, and then toured with it for the summer, performing at night and holding workshops during the day. As a result of that, she made some incredible contacts, one of which lead her to where she is today, living and working in London.

    When she graduated, she was very fortunate to have three offers of work, including the producer contact from the UK. She turned him down, though, and went to work with an incredible regional theatre in Chicago for a year. When she finished there, she went almost immediately to London and has been there ever since. I can't give too many details because she doesn't like me talking about her here :) but I will say that she combines performance with a writer-in-residence position. She has supported herself totally in the UK, and is doing extremely well both financially and artistically, even with the very high cost of living. She is back and forth from London to NY, and occasionally home to Toronto, ever six weeks or so. I recently met her for a couple of days in NY where she is in the process of discussing a workshop of one of her plays to be mounted in the next year.

    In addition to this very busy life, she also finds time, I have no idea how, to play some local gigs in London with some friends. She's always been a great musician and plays several instruments. She attended an arts high school and performed in many musicals there as well as the straight plays. When she went to college, she chose to focus on an acting studio rather than the MT one but that isn't unusual at Tisch, at least when she was there. She continues to study voice, even today. If I had only one piece of advice for kids who are interested in MT, it would be to become the best musician you can. It always surprises me the number of kids who are auditioning for MT who cannot read music or play an instrument. That is a mistake, in my opinion.
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