If you’re a theater major, you’ve probably heard at one point or another that a theater degree isn’t taken seriously in the workforce. You may have received the disheartening advice to choose a more “serious” major by well-meaning folks who don’t understand the thought and passion you’ve put into your decision. They don’t see how you can possibly acquire any skills to use at a “day job” while waiting for your chance in the spotlight. As a recent college grad and theater major, I’m here to tell you no matter what myths you’ve heard about the lack of job prospects, it isn’t true.
At least, not entirely.
The skills you learn as a thespian-in-training are as beneficial and marketable as those of a business or communications major; if you think about it, your training in the theater department is equipping you not just for employment in the entertainment field, but for a wide variety of jobs that incorporate your unique talents. You just need to know how to get that message across to your prospective employer when he or she asks, “What can you do for our company?”
So what do you put on your resume to reflect this? First, you have a demonstrated ability to work well with others. All those semesters working in collaboration to put on a show prove you’re able to be a productive member of the team. Conversely, any significant projects you’ve completed solo, whether it be lighting design, costuming, and so forth could be considered an ability to work independently.
Next, consider your creative problem-solving and time management skills in the context of your resume. Was there a time a project didn’t go quite as planned, and you found a unique solution to it? Employers are interested in knowing how you approach a difficult situation, especially within a time constraint. After all, isn’t every Opening Night an exercise in time management?
Sometimes a project idea just plain doesn’t work, in which case your adaptability can prove to be a valuable asset. How you handle stressful situations when things are beyond your control is a valuable tool, possibly giving you an advantage over other job applicants considering the hectic atmosphere behind every stage production.
There are far more skills and abilities to take into account than can be listed in a single article: oral/written communication, commitment, improvisation and managerial skills are just a few to look into. Expand further on the things I’ve mentioned and you’ll have a wealth of information for your resume – and that job-winning interview.
You already have the skills employers want by the time you graduate, you just need to look at the work you’ve done in the theatre from a different, more motivated perspective. Nearly everything you’ve learned can be transferred from the stage to the workplace, from your training to think outside the box to your reliability in getting the job done on time. By the time your resume is ready, you’ll realize your theater degree isn’t a disadvantage at all; in fact, more employers these days are looking for “well-rounded” candidates who work well with people, giving your theater background a chance to shine.