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Employment right after college

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by emoskacrewman, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. emoskacrewman

    emoskacrewman Member

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    So i'll be graduating from CCM's Technical Theater program with a focus in TD/ tech production in 2011, and at this rate I will have around 40,000 in student loans to pay back. i'm worried i won't be able to pull this off with a job in the field. can anyone throw me some numbers as far as entry level stagehand/carpenter/technician salaries go?
     
  2. emoskacrewman

    emoskacrewman Member

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    ps i'm a cincinnati native, but i'm willing to move/sail anywhere when i get out.
     
  3. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    I'd say start making contacts now with your local production companies and community theatres and road houses. Start putting yourself in a position where, upon getting your piece of paper, they might have a place for you that pays money.

    Of course, I say this; I got my production/design degree and went to work as a database/website programmer. A college theatre degree and five bucks will buy you a hamburger...
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Yeah have to agree you need to be out there networking right now. Get a part time job coiling cable at a rental shop or doing anything you can to meet people. Get an internship. Just get out there and meet as many people as you can paid or not to establish a track record.

    I've ranted a lot about this in the past but the most important thing in this field is meeting and impressing people. You never know which contact will be the one who makes a phone call to a friend and says... "Hey I met this young guy the other day he was a real hard worker, he might be just the person you need..." It's AMAZING how many jobs in this field happen because of who you know.
     
  5. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    What got me my current position, as M.E., in addition to my degree, was 5 years of overhire at the Pageant, some decent carpentry skills, (Thats right. I said carpentry.), and applying for full time work elsewhere. Of course, I made sure the Pageant knew I was applying to other venues. I was enough of an asset to them, that when they learned that they might lose me, they offered me a full time staff position which I have now held for the better part of 9 years.

    Learn as much as you can in school, but don't specialize to the point where you're only good for one particular job. Having multiple skill sets at your disposal makes you far more valuable to any potential employer. Also, getting out in the field and working is every bit as important as your education. This is where you will get to know people who may offer you work in the future, or point people your way when they are looking to hire someone. Networking is important in this industry. This is where the vast majority of my work has come from. Be diligent, work hard, and always try to have a good attitude towards whatever it is you're doing, even if its not your favorite job. As the people you work with and for get to know you and your capabilities, work will either be sent to you or away from you depending on whether you have a good or a bad reputation. Always be an asset to your employers and the reputation will take care of itself.

    Finally, be patient. Theatre is a tough industry to break into. You may spend several years barely scraping by before you find your niche. This was true for me, and was likely true of most of the other posters on this site who have been doing theatre for any length of time.

    As far as entry level tech positions go, its really going to vary. Most of your work, early on, is going to be of an hourly and temporary nature. Some will pay $10.00 an hour, while others may pay $50.00 per hour. Even as you move farther along in your career, there will be a considerable discrepancy in salaries from one venue to another. As an example, while I'm not going to go into specifics here, the M.E. at the theatre right next door to the Pageant earns considerably less than I do, and likely works harder for his money. They put on 12 shows a year, where my company puts on 1. Do I earn more because I'm better than him? No. I earn more because I work for a company that can afford to pay more. Often that's the only reason one job pays better than a comparable position elsewhere. Don't get discouraged if you're not making what you feel you should. Other opportunities will present themselves. You just need to be prepared to act when they do.

    Will it be an easy road? Probably not.

    Will it be worth it? If theatre is where you belong, yes.;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2008
  6. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    (1) It seems as though here you're trying to say "aside from my degree, and my 5 years, and my..." as opposed to "aside from my degree, was my 5 years, and my..."
    (2) site.

    Yes, as everyone is saying, go out into the world of theater (It's a very small one!) and get to know people. More importantly, get people to know you, and your work ethic. If you try your best and make yourself available, you'll probably find small job opportunities popping up before you know it. Sure, you may not turn around to find yourself the resident designer at a Tony Award Winning Repertory theater, but maybe someone you interned with needs someone to run cable, or perhaps one of your teachers noticed your genuine interest in the job, and wants a hand painting sets.
    If everyone here has survived, I'm sure you'll be able to.
     
  7. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Thanks 'dip. I can always count on you to point out my spelling and grammar errors.:lol:

    Your first suggestion was a little overcomplicated. Simply moving the was in the sentence worked just fine.:rolleyes:
     
  8. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    It wasn't until after I got my degree that I figured out the guys who have been doing lighting for the past 30 years still are.

    I actually have really good contacts with a local soundco; I've known the guys there for over ten years now. It's just that the time wasn't right when I got my degree. A few months ago they asked if I'd be interested in coming on board regular-like, but I'm too rooted in my programming job and actually like it.
     
  9. emoskacrewman

    emoskacrewman Member

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    thanks. i understand all of the contact making stuff, I'm just looking for some examples of positions i could handle as a fresh graduate and the pay.
     
  10. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    I'm thinking that if you don't start learning to use capital letters for the beginnings of sentences and the word I, you'll be looking at the $10.00 an hour end of the spectrum. Literacy counts. Especially if you have a degree! If you take shortcuts in your communications, do you also take shortcuts in your work? This is a question potential employers are going to ask. Develop the habit of using proper sentence structure now and it won't come back to bite you on the backside later.

    For more on this subject, check the various posts of derekleffew.;)
     
  11. LekoBoy

    LekoBoy Active Member

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    $8 to $30 per hour. For the higher end, be sure to have a relative in the local IATSE in a major city. If no blood relatives, marry well.
     
  12. Serendipity

    Serendipity Active Member Premium Member

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    Not my boss! Higher on the food chain, definitely, but my boss would be the TD, and above him, the Director. :twisted:

    Agreed. Even if you try putting on a show (in the idiomatic version, we do want help putting on shows in Theater!), it'll become obvious sooner or later. And if it becomes apparent later, it'll probably be much worse...
    I've heard a lot of variants of this phrase: There's only forty people working in theater.
    Point is: Try your best, and word will get around. (Or, for pessimists: Do less than the minimum and only show up half the time, everyone will know too.)
     
  13. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    As 'dip said, I'm not her boss. My boss is her boss.

    Back when I was still just another member of the pageant crew, we had a guy working for us who , as Charc said, was putting on a show. His first year on the crew, he was one of the best workers we had. His second year on the crew, he was that biggest slacker we had. He felt he had paid his dues, and no longer had anything to prove, so he quit putting any effort into his work. No one wanted to work with him because whoever was paired with him had to work twice as hard because he wasn't pulling his own weight. In the twelve years, I have known this person, he has shown a remarkable inability to hold a job. He no longer works in the entertainment industry, because no one will hire him unless they're desperate for bodies.

    One of the cold hard facts of life that we all have to deal with is that you're never done proving your worth. There's always someone out there who is better than you, so you must always be an asset to your employers if you want to continue working. The moment you become a liability, your job is no longer secure.
     
    Charc and (deleted member) like this.
  14. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Somehow, I think I'll live.:rolleyes:

    I'll have to remember that trick of replying in the quote area with a different color.
     
  15. emoskacrewman

    emoskacrewman Member

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    Sorry for the laziness in my typing, I'm a legitimately good English student; I've just become used to typing in the generic grammatical shorthand on forums due to the usual age of their participants.

    Thanks for the feedback. I was on Backstagejobs.com the other day and found some listings for currently needed techs around the country, with some estimated salaries. Provided I am all of these necessary things (hard working, pride-of-work and -place, connected), does it seem likely that I could end up with a stagehand job somewhere like the MGM Grand right out of college? Or is that possibility a shot in the dark just like everything else, due to me trying to become the forty-first person working in theater?
     
  16. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    I'll try to go a little easier on you next time.:rolleyes:

    While its not out of the realm of possibility that you'll land a steady stage hand gig someplace, right out of college, its more likely that you'll end up freelancing for a while while you build your resume. That process will speed up a bit if you get out and work while in college. While a college degree looks good to a prospective employer, a college degree with experience and references looks a whole lot better.;)
     
  17. sobenson

    sobenson Member

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    Starting out at my theater is $12.50. Go up from there based on experience and seniority.
     
  18. RichMoore

    RichMoore Member

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    It would seem that with the ability to search anywhere and everywhere with the internet, finding a job would not be that difficult. Granted, you might not start off doing exactly what it is that you wish to ultimately end up doing, but you can be working around what you want to do. By that, I mean that you can find work with online companies that sell lighting gear, you can work for one of the myriad theme or amusement parks, you can work for one of the theatrical supply companies, you can work for one of the theatrical rigging companies, you can even work with the circus.

    The possibilities are endless. It all depends on you and what you are willing to do. As has been stated in previous posts, you will also be known by how you do whatever it is that you do.

    This is a fairly small industry that is filled with professionals, some of whom have been at it for many years. Most of us 'seasoned' professionals started at or very near the bottom of the food chain and through hard work, perseverance, ethics, a good attitude and a bit of luck have managed to stay employed. It is very seldom easy and often times it is no fun, but that is why they call it work.

    So, if you want to pay off those loans by working in this industry, resign yourself to the fact that you will have to do a few things that you may not relish doing and that you could never see yourself doing and maybe get a little dirt on your hands. Get out there and make a life's adventure for yourself and remember, there are no debtor's prisons in this country.
     
  19. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    That is also a great way of finding the necessary skills that employers are looking for. Is it possible to work somewhere like MGM right out of college? Sure, but it will depend on what you were doing in college. If you were only working in your department and not for any professional companies, your chances will be much slimmer. What kind of production work do you want to do? If you work for a staging company that provides the labor for rock concerts and the like, save your college money and get out there now. If you want to work on a show, that education will help, especially if you seek intern positions. Dinner theater or regional theater can pay ok, but be prepared to work your tail off for it (they don't have the budget to pay good wages, especially to a full crew). AV work usually pays the best since corporations have bigger budgets to spend. Diversify your skills but train on industry specific gear if possible.
    Be aware that when you are looking for jobs outside your city, you will most likely have to pay for your own relocation (even when you are more experienced). If you are looking for a job in a city like Las Vegas, there are a lot of qualified technicians already here, so the employer may not be looking to wait for someone to relocate unless you have unique skills (relocation prior to applying can be useful, but can be risky). Getting work in a production company will give you more experience than working for a staging company. With a production company, the employees are hooking the equipment together and doing the problem solving, with a staging company the employee is being told what to plug in (usually color coded) and rarely have any of the problem solving responsibilities. Guess which technician is more desirable? That's not to say don't work for a staging company, you just won't add to your problem solving (and possible design) experience as fast.
     
  20. CavezziMagnum

    CavezziMagnum Member

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    I just graduated in May, and now I am the Assistant Production Manager. I got this job through my LD professor in undergrad. It isn't theatre, but its using the same technology. Look into fields outside of just theater. Right now, i'm pulling down a salary w/benefits. I'm still able to make student loan payments, and i'm not living in a cardboard box. It is possible. If you want a better idea of what kind of jobs are out there and what they are paying, check out Backstagejobs.com, that'll help you out, and you might even find a sweet gig out of it!

    Good Luck!
     

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