We’re deep into the snowy depths of the holiday season, so graduation is a long way off for most theater students. But for those who are planning to walk up to that stage and receive their degree in 2018, keep in mind that Spring is not all that far off. Thinking now about what the next stage in your budding career is going to be can help you get yourself positioned for jumping on the fast track to building a resume outside of university theatrical productions and student films.
But where to begin? It’s a big, beautiful world out there, but it can also look a little intimidating from the safety and comfort of the university nest. You’ve spent the past four or five years becoming a citizen of a little mini-universe where you live and work the majority of your time; of course the thought of stepping outside that bubble is a little worrying.
However there are some solid, logical steps you can and should take in order to ease your rebirth into the wider world after university. Here are a few things to think about to get you started!
1. Preparing to Relocate
If you’re seriously considering making the jump to a different city right after you graduate, now is definitely the time to get started on it. Moving as an adult to an unfamiliar place is a whole lot more challenging than having your parents help you move into your dorm freshman year. And if you’re moving in order to pursue your acting career, your first steps should be to research the market for acting in whatever place you are considering moving to–and you can start and end that process right here on the NYCastings auditions page! But wherever you’re planning to go, it’s important to not only have a solid idea about the market for acting auditions in general; you also need to research what kinds of things are being cast. Are you a song and dance man or woman? Well, if you’re moving to some small town in Alabama or Montana, you might find yourself pining for the musical theater scene somewhere else. Be sure to have a realistic idea of what kind of work you might be able to audition for wherever you’re going. Your research of course doesn’t end there: the economy, non-acting job opportunities–hey, you have to start somewhere–and rental costs are all vital pieces of the puzzle to have prior to relocating. Luckily we live in an age where all that information is very easy to come by! Job boards and rental sharing websites abound on the web. You can even start…
2. Preparing Your Network–Now!
At first glance this might seem like an impossible task before you’re physically in the place you intend to move to, but there are a couple of preparatory steps you can take to ease your way in a little less abruptly. For starters, you may be in college somewhere far away from where you want to go, but remember, you’ve already begun building a network of acting and filmmaking and writing colleagues among your fellow students! Is anyone you’ve been in a show with from New York or L.A.? Might be a good time to rekindle that friendship and pick their brain over a coffee or a beer, no? And don’t forget, good ol’ Facebook has tons of pages and groups that are location specific that you can join from the comfort of your bedroom. Get yourself in contact with people who already live there! This is a way to not only get a general feel for the place you want to go, but also to start building acquaintances that can blossom into working relationships or even lifelong friendships once you’ve actually made the jump to your new chosen new home.
3. Preparing Your Craft
So, no doubt you’ve learned a ton about acting over your time in university. No doubt you are a much better actor than you were as an 18-year-old auditioning for your first college-level production. But here’s the thing, and it’s something you might not want to hear: you’re just getting started–again. Yes, no young person wants to hear from a cranky old about how little they know. But in this case, I’m sorry, but it’s kind of true: the learning you’ve already done and the knowledge you’ve already accumulated at this point is really little more than the primer coat that had to be laid down before the real learning could even begin. You can give yourself a head start on the long road of lifelong learning you’re going to do in terms of the craft of acting by first adopting this attitude. Pledge yourself to an outlook of openness and willingness to learn from whatever situations you find yourself in, and from whatever you find yourself working on, whether it’s a big budget studio film or a community theater play. Every commercial, every student film–even every audition–these are all great opportunities to learn more about yourself as a person and about yourself as an actor. What’s more, start now in developing the habit of seeking out outside classes and actor’s groups with which you can work on your monologues, your original writing, and your improv skills. These are habits that every good actor carries on throughout their lives; ask any veteran actor and they will say they still have things to learn no matter how long they’ve been doing this.
4. Prepare Your Piggy Bank
Even if you aren’t relocating after you graduate, you can do yourself a favor by taking advantage of work opportunities now and putting some money aside. After graduation things get thrown into turmoil, and you may find yourself on a ticking timer as far as having to move, get a full-time job, or other factors the real world throws at us once the university dream has ended. And especially if you want to move, that biz gets expensive! Take advantage of the fact that you have a stable living situation right now and you’re not having to put down a deposit on a new place just yet, and save some pennies for when you will have to do that.
5. Prepare Some Fun!
If you’re on the road to graduation, it’s possible that you have some exams and other hurdles to overcome between now and next May, but the truth is, this is also a time to enjoy what you’ve accomplished. Have some fun with the people you’re working with in plays and student films! Not only just to enjoy this time in your life for the sheer hell of it, but also because you never know where these relationships you forge in college may lead down the road. How many famous filmmakers and actors and playwrights have friends from college they end up working with later in life? Cement those relationships for the long term. But also, don’t be afraid to have a good time and revel in the glory of the huge milestone you’re about to overcome–even while you soberly assess your next move. There’s time for both right now, and there might not always be!