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Advice for new TD

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by Spikesgirl, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    I really need your help with this. For anyone who currently working as a full time TD in a theater setting, what one piece of advice would you give someone applying for a TD position.

    Long and short of it, the TD at my old college is moving on and my son is applying. It would be a godsend to have him working there, but he is really green to the TD position. he's been asked by the Dean of Instruction to apply, which speaks well for him, but both he and I would like to blow them away with the interview portion of the application process.

    So, guys (and gals), what do you feel 'cinched' the interview for you? What advice would you give him on topics to avoid? Any suggestions will be wholehearted accepted.

    Thanks!

    Char5lie
     
  2. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    First off let me express my dismay and disappointment at your inability to dissuade your progeny from pursuing a career in the theatre ! ;)

    Seriously, the only real Trick I would encourage is the honest expression of his abilities and weaknesses. If he has areas where he is lacking in knowledge be sure to let him know that he needs to express these areas. Nothing is worse for a educational position like a TD than the inability to Own up to ones weaknesses. As the Dean is not a person that, generally, has any technical knowledge whatsoever, he needs to know exactly what he's getting.
    Another area of concern would be time commitment. Making sure he knows exactly what he's getting himself into nothing will ruin a young marriage faster than a career as a TD, too many hours spent at the theatre and not enough at home. I'm pretty sure you know this already though, Charlie. I bet his ability to draw on you knowledge and background will be a plus as well.
    Most of all I just say "Good Luck!" If he knows his stuff, and he's got a brain, and there is no collegiate politics at play, he'll get the job. Then encourage him to become a member here and ask for help whenever he needs it. I think one of the most important abilities of a TD is "Knowing Everything" but instead knowing what you know and knowing when and where to ask for help.
     
  3. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I agree with Van 100%. Admit where his skills are lacking. I have also found that emphasizing organizational skills and ability to create a safe working enviroment has always been well noticed by administrative types, especially in an educational setting. Good luck!

    ~Dave
     
  4. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    Thanks! I gave him this web address so I'm thinking he'll be checking this forum out. He has been working in theater full time (mostly in the area of set design and scenic painting) for 15 years, so he's aware of the committment. He's not in a relationship, so there's no real problem there.

    I have given him the heads up to look for ways to shore up his weaknesses as you both suggested. The job is stressing more management and organizational skills than design, so he will take the time between submitting his application and the interview to bring himself up to speed. I should say that he got a degree from this school and the retiring TD was his professor - not sure if that's good or not.

    Still, thanks for the kind words and support.

    Cha5lie
     
  5. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Lots of pictures!

    Also I'm convinced one of the best ways to make a huge impression is to print out your work on really nice paper and take it to Kinkos and have them bind it for you. It looks REALLY classy and yet isn't very expensive.

    Stress safety, ability to train students and manage student crews, and working within budgets.

    Get a tour of the facility before the interview and then drop in some questions about the building in the interview... "Do you have your rigging regularly inspected?" or "How long has it been since that curtain had it's fire retardant checked?" or "Do you allow students to...?" something that shows you have an eye for detail and a mind for safety and properly running the theater. Don't pester them with questions they can't answer but one would be really nice.

    Finally do some research on what shows have been recently produced and find a way to drop that knowledge into the conversation.
     
  6. Raktor

    Raktor Active Member

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    If they see that as trouble, it's a venue I'd prefer to stay out of...
     
  7. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Exactly Raktor. Notice I didn't recommend saying, "I see your lighting inventory is very old will you be replacing it soon?"
     
  8. Marius

    Marius Active Member

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    I heartily agree with the aformentioned suggestions, but something that is often overlooked in the prep for being an educational TD is the need to be something of a diplomat. Most school theatres are also used by other departments, maybe rentals, etc. The TD for such a situation needs to be able to deal with a diverse, and mostly uninformed, group of users. I have seen more than one excellent technician leave in frustrated fury after too many dance recitals and chamber music concerts. A positive 'can do' attitude is essential.
     
  9. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    This is a good point and it was, in fact, listed in the job description as the current TD does not play well with others. When I was on the staff I tried building bridges with other departments, but he would protest saying that it took time away from things we could be doing in ours. I'm just hoping that if Kenichi doesn't get the position, the new person will be more approachable. We have a really good relationship with our other universities in town, but this one will not loan anyone anything at anytime...this is a shame because they have a fabulous inventory of hand and furniture props(one of my jobs was to inventory and catagorize the five (yes, FIVE) prop rooms).

    Thanks again, I know he's reading this thread, so I'm hoping he'll take your advice to heart (HINT, HINT!).

    Char5lie
     
  10. Marius

    Marius Active Member

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    Oh, and once you get the gig it's a good idea to get on the good side of the facilities and custodial staff. They are, if possible, even more abused and unthanked than we are, and a little courtesy and the occasional offer of help goes a long way when you need a favor from them.
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Is his CPR/First Aid certification up to date?

    Another trick I used was to talk to the interview people about a picture of a set... "Now this set I built was really interesting. I really like the design results but I think the most interesting thing is this technique we used. In order to do it you must blah blah blah... or the type of light I needed for this effect was a fresnel because blah blah blah" Turn observations about a picture in your portfolio into a lesson on how to do some tech. This demonstrates your ability to teach students.

    Also be sure to mail a thank you note to the interview committee from the nearest post office as soon as you leave. In the note include a brief reference to a specific detail about your interview that will remind them of you. If the committee hasn't made a decision yet, the note will force them to think about your interview the next day in the middle of the interviews they are doing of others. "Oh, it's a thank you note from that really interesting guy who came in and did ____... wow what a nice gesture. He might really fit in well here."
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  12. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    I will have to ask him about his CPR/first aid skills. I'm not sure what they are. I know that my knoweldge of first aid and safety skills nabbed me my position. I will advise him to brush up.

    If he makes it the interview portion, I'll also forward on your note suggestion, although there may not be time - they can make the decision in hours or days. They'll let him know, so here's hoping!

    Thanks again!

    Char5lie
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yep. It's a requirement in many places that house managers, stagemanagers, and of course people who work around tools have both CPR and First aid.
     
  14. Spikesgirl

    Spikesgirl Active Member

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    Just wanted everyone to know that the application has gone in. He did indeed docment his first aid/CPR experience and we are now just awaiting word. They will not call him if they don't want to see him, but we're sort of hoping that since the Dean of Instruction sent him a personal e mail asking him to apply that he will make it through the screening and be called for an interview.

    Fingers crossed, everyone!
     

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