#### punktech

##### Active Member
so i'm in my junior year in my college now and i've moderated into the BA program for technical theatre/lighting design. and now i've begun to worry. i don't quite know if i want to be a designer anymore. i love it, but i love to be repairing and hanging and just about everything else that is covered electrics too. i want to work as a tech for a few years and do the whole road thing (i want to work in the concert industry) and then go get my MFA in lighting design with any cash that i save up. and then perhaps design after that (or not, i really have no clue). so essentially am i going vastly astray? am i wasting my degree? i've heard that if you have a design degree you should only go for assistant or associate positions after you get it. there's this part of me that still wants to be a designer, because i love thinking up plots and when i listen to music i usually have a little imaginary light show going in my head. but another part of me still wants to get my hands dirty and i really want to just kinda start out low and see where the industry takes me...

#### icewolf08

##### CBMod
CB Mods
I feel like we talked about a similar thing in another thread recently, but it all runs together.

If you have the skills it won't matter what degree you have. If you want to go get a job where you are on the road and such you can. It is more about what you know and how willing you are to work than what degree you have when you want to go into a more technical job. It would be harder to do the opposite of what you want, go from a tech degree and get a design job. You of course could to a tech undergrad and design grad, and be happy. So, in short, do whatever program in school suits you, go get some real world experience, then go to grad school for design, if that is what you want. Who knows, if you go out on tour you may find that you want to just keep doing that!

#### derekleffew

##### Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
This may or may not be the thread of which Alex is thinking. Complete your degree, then decide what you want to do. Time in college is never (seldom) wasted. I've found technicians and designers who've been to college, even in a non-entertainment field, to be more well-rounded and more fun to be around. And sometimes they can even write a sentence without embarrassing themselves.

#### What Rigger?

##### I'm so fly....I Neverland.
My degree is priceless. It gives me hours of laughter when I come home after being out in the rain all night with a hammer drill in an uncovered light well, trying to punch through 3 feet of concrete with a dull bit.

The flip side: some of the BEST riggers, programmers, fabricators, etc... I know are high school dropouts and stellar human beings all around.

In the end, degree or not, I always thought Jesse James (yeah, from West Coast Choppers...I am in the LBC after all) said it best: "People who can do things with their hands can run the whole world."

'Nuff said.

#### Grog12

##### CBMod
CB Mods
This may or may not be the thread of which Alex is thinking. Complete your degree, then decide what you want to do. Time in college is never (seldom) wasted. I've found technicians and designers who've been to college, even in a non-entertainment field, to be more well-rounded and more fun to be around. And sometimes they can even write a sentence without embarrassing themselves.

Hey...wait a second...is this another jab at my inability to write while tired?

Complete your degree. I have many friends with MFA's who aren't designing but doing tech work because its what they love.

#### punktech

##### Active Member
is it at all possible for me to switch between the two careers? my plan, as it stands now, is to get my BA do tech work for a few years (pay down some loans, and meet people, firm up my knowledge i gain in college [heh, that rhymes]), adn then go somewhere (possibly London) for my MFA and then possibly get some quick work teching so i can further pay down loans and such, while looking for a design job. and if i find i don't really like it or what not, then go back to tech work (and who knows from there, at least i have the next probably 10 years outlined, a lot better than some college students!). is that feasible? once i get my MFA should i not take any tech work and just live in abject poverty while i find something to do with designing?

also how hard are good (read: reasonably well paying, ie i can pay of my student loans and not eat Kraft Dinner morning noon and night?) tech jobs to come by out of college, and how hard are are design jobs to come by with an MFA? (in the realm of concerts at least, as that is currently where my interest is)

#### derekleffew

##### Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
...also how hard are good ... design jobs to come by with an MFA? (in the realm of concerts at least, as that is currently where my interest is)
See this post and thread for theatrical design. Or this post same thread for Concerts.

#### icewolf08

##### CBMod
CB Mods
is it at all possible for me to switch between the two careers? my plan, as it stands now, is to get my BA do tech work for a few years (pay down some loans, and meet people, firm up my knowledge i gain in college [heh, that rhymes]), adn then go somewhere (possibly London) for my MFA and then possibly get some quick work teching so i can further pay down loans and such, while looking for a design job. and if i find i don't really like it or what not, then go back to tech work (and who knows from there, at least i have the next probably 10 years outlined, a lot better than some college students!). is that feasible? once i get my MFA should i not take any tech work and just live in abject poverty while i find something to do with designing?
also how hard are good (read: reasonably well paying, ie i can pay of my student loans and not eat Kraft Dinner morning noon and night?) tech jobs to come by out of college, and how hard are are design jobs to come by with an MFA? (in the realm of concerts at least, as that is currently where my interest is)
In short, you can pretty much make whatever you want of your career. If you want to do some tech and do some design, you can. If you find you like one better than the other you can stick to it.

There are many schools of though on finding design jobs. I know that I have classmates who went out right after college as freelance designers and have had steady work. On the other hand, some people say you should get in as an assistant to a known designer as they can help you make contacts, continue to teach you, and get your name out there.

It is really up to you. You may find a theatre that is looking for a designer/ME so you could get the best of both worlds. As for finding good jobs, they are out there and there are plenty, surf ArtSearch, BackstageJobs, Playbill.com, etc, and you will see that there is always a company looking for people.

Graduating college and moving on with life is daunting, but we all have done it, or will. Some find it easier than others. I suppose the thing about working in this industry is that often you have to be willing to move to take a job, you can't always say, "well I want to be in my home state." Sometimes the "perfect" job will take you across the country or across the world.

The other thing that you have to pay attention to is what you have to do to move up in the world. It may be great to take an ME position at a theatre, but it also may mean that if you want to move up you may have to move out. Sometimes taking the cable wrangling job at a larger venue may provide you a means to work up the ladder and maybe even become the designer for the place.

There are a lot of angles to take, and I am sure that as you have more questions, we will be happy to help as we can. Those of us out working have faced the decision process you are looking at.

#### derekleffew

Senior Team
Sound advice Icewolf08. Let me add just one thing. While in college, minor in business or some other marketable "day job" skill so you won't have to work at a K-mart for $3.35/hour upon graduation like I did. This allows you to still have nights available to do shows and make contacts, and have a decent standard of living. Most theatres are in larger cities, where the costs of living are larger also. One more thing, learn to budget, and get, while you're still in college, at least one credit card, but never use it unless you have the money in your account. #### avkid ##### Not a New User Fight Leukemia work at a K-mart for$3.35/hour
That is actually impossible.
The federal minimum wage is \$5.85 an hour.

#### Chris15

##### CBMod
CB Mods
Departed Member
One more thing, learn to budget, and get, while you're still in college, at least one credit card, but never use it unless you have the money in your account.

I personally wouldn't get a CREDIT card. I'd get a debit card. Visa do them. Having a quick check on the web, it seems you have a slightly different name for it, but the details are here: http://usa.visa.com/personal/cards/...al/cards/credit/visa_signature.jsp|Check Card

You use it as you would any other Visa, but it takes money from your account rather than accruing a debt...

#### derekleffew

##### Resident Curmudgeon
Senior Team
...You use it as you would any other Visa, but it takes money from your account rather than accruing a debt...
My point was to begin establishing a credit history while in college and have little income. Upon graduation, one must show sufficient income, stable employment, etc.

Most consumer advocates (Clark Howard, Suzy Orman, et. al.) agree that debit cards are not a good idea, as they don't carry the same user protections as a credit card.

YMMV.

#### Chris15

##### CBMod
CB Mods
Departed Member
Curious. Perhaps the arrangements are slightly different down here. But establishing some form of a credit history is definitely a good thing...

#### TechiGoz

##### Active Member
I agree with everything that's been said. Like you, I have a little light show going on in my head for every piece of music. I've got a design degree, but found that after doing that, I worked as a tech for a year or two, just to get my fill, and then move onto the touring designing side. I am still a tech, and I still love it, I just design now too! Its the best of both worlds, and the degree is hardly bought up in conversation.

So live how you want to live. Nothing is ever wasted!

Daniel

#### punktech

##### Active Member
I agree with everything that's been said. Like you, I have a little light show going on in my head for every piece of music. I've got a design degree, but found that after doing that, I worked as a tech for a year or two, just to get my fill, and then move onto the touring designing side. I am still a tech, and I still love it, I just design now too! Its the best of both worlds, and the degree is hardly bought up in conversation.
So live how you want to live. Nothing is ever wasted!
Daniel

that's precisely what i wanted to hear! i was worried that if i did tech i'd get stuck doing that and not get to design ever (which would be a sad waste of my internal light shows!). thank you guys so much. also i'm glad to know that i'm not insane for having lights bouncing about in my head when i listen to music!

#### TechiGoz

##### Active Member
Not a problem at all! Sounds like you've both got the right mindset!

The great thing about lighting is that no matter what you do, you'll always be able to have some input, and you'll always find yourself moving along, at a pace you're comforable with!

So keep it up!

P.S. I would think you were weird if you DIDN'T have a light bouncing around you head to music. Everyone has too!

#### Pie4Weebl

##### Well-Known Member
Fight Leukemia
yeah, here is another vote to get a credit card, make sure you make at least one purchase a month on it, even it is just a soda at a 7-11. Right now a few of my classmates have dropped out because no credit agency will give them a loan, but I am in better shape since I have had a credit card since late in high school.