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Ten Ways Being A Theatre Major Prepared Me For Success

Tom Vander Well, a business owner and consultant, has posted an enlightening article listing 10 ways that being a theatre major prepared him for success. His article contains valuable information for anyone considering a degree in theatre or dance.

Read the Article

Career Planning


  • Regional theaters
  • Commercial theaters
  • Summer stock theaters
  • Dinner theaters
  • Children's theaters
  • University theater groups
  • Touring companies
  • Industrial shows
  • Show groups
  • Amusement and theme parks
  • Television/film studios
  • Radio stations


Participate in acting workshops, courses, and seminars to get advice and experience and to make contacts with others in the field. Join unions or actors' guilds to stay abreast of opportunities and developments in the field. Get as much acting experience as possible. Perform in school productions, summer stock, etc. to hone acting skills. Prepare a professional resume that lists your acting experience. Have your resume attached to or printed on the reverse side of an 8" x 10" photograph of yourself. Be prepared to make the rounds. Distribute your resume to numerous agencies and offices. Follow up with several personal visits. Be aware that more opportunities exist in large cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Learn about the entertainment industry as a whole: Take courses on entertainment law, business, management, etc. An extensive network of contacts is essential. Get to know people working in your field and related areas.


  • Direction
  • Casting
  • Stage Management
  • Support Staff


  • Theaters
  • Television/film studios


Participate in the Director's Guild Training Program. Develop leadership skills through participation in campus and community organizations. Experience with fund-raising is important. Volunteer to do this with local theaters and arts councils. Learn what types of permits and insurance are needed to film or perform in certain areas. Volunteer with directors in local theaters to become familiar with the environment. Serving as an assistant is a great way to get started in this area. Gain directing experience by participating in college productions.


  • Dancer
  • Choreographer
  • Instructor


During the process of the four years of study, the dance option students get the chance to develop specific skills that are applicable to lots of different careers. These skills include:

  • A knack for problem-solving and skills and attention to detail
  • A sense of self-discipline and memorization skills
  • A “thick skin” and perseverance
  • Ability to work well independently and collaboratively
  • Ability to teach others using creative methods
  • Broad knowledge of cultural history and events
  • Comfort with scrutiny and critique
  • Critical listening, observation and thinking skills
  • Unwavering dedication


  • Set Design/Construction
  • Technical Direction
  • Property Design
  • Lighting Design
  • Sound Design
  • Costume Design
  • Camera Operation
  • Hair/Make-up
  • Special Effects
  • Wardrobe
  • Prop Management
  • Broadcast Technology
  • Riggers
  • Electricians


  • Regional theaters
  • Commercial theaters
  • Summer stock theaters
  • Dinner theaters
  • Children's theaters
  • University theater groups
  • Touring companies
  • Industrial shows
  • Show groups
  • Amusement and theme parks
  • Television/film studios
  • Radio stations


Learn to work well in a team. Develop a sense of artistry and creativity. Become involved in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). This organization can give you information about becoming an apprentice as well as help you make valuable contacts. Get experience. Offer your services to school and local theaters. Read industry magazines and books to learn about your area. For sound design: Become familiar with computer technology as digital sound effects and electronic music replace traditional means of sound design. For costume design: Supplement your program with courses in art history and fashion design. Learn about different eras in history in order to recreate on stage. A basic knowledge of history and architecture is helpful. 



  • Scriptwriting
  • Playwriting
  • Screenwriting
  • Journalism
  • Publicity (Press Agents)
  • Research


  • Theaters
  • Television/film studios
  • Television stations
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Freelance


Review plays, movies, and TV shows for school or local newspaper. Theatrical press agents publicize and promote theatrical productions. They write press releases, arrange press conferences, and other media events. Take courses in related areas such as public relations, advertising, and business. Reporters spend time on the set absorbing everything. They interview actors as well as craftspeople. Get as much writing experience as possible: Write for the college newspaper, enter playwriting contests, etc. See many different productions and shows. Read variety of scripts to see how scripts are developed. Researchers gather information for movie writers. They may also track down photographs or historical documents to make the film more authentic.


  • Producing
  • Management
  • Agents
  • Marketing
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Coordination of Volunteers
  • Administration of Arts Programs
  • Box Office Sales


  • Theaters
  • Arts councils
  • Television/film studios


Secretarial/clerical positions in theaters and studios are often stepping-stones to other positions and a good way to make contacts. Take business courses to supplement your program. Obtain a working knowledge of computers. Gain a thorough understanding of theater. Develop skills in leadership, negotiation, budgeting, and fundraising.


  • Teaching
  • Employers

  • Public and private schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Performing arts centers


Obtain certification for the state in which you wish to teach. Obtain dual certification for more teaching opportunities. Get experience in various areas of theater, as well as working with young people. Obtain a graduate degree to teach on the college level. Develop one or two areas of expertise within theater arts.

R.E.A.C.H. is designed to provide financial assistance for both current and recently graduated UNH Theatre & Dance students who participate in internships with highly-regarded theatre or dance organizations. 

Student Qualifications

  • Theatre and Dance Major
  • Minimum of 2.5 Academic GPA
  • Minimum of 3.0 Theatre/Dance GPA
  • THDA Production involvement
  • Level of discipline and integrity, as evidenced in departmental undertakings
  • Commitment and dedication to a career in theatre and/or dance

Contact Information

Department of Theatre and Dance
D22 Paul Creative Arts Center
30 Academic Way
University of New Hampshire

Phone: (603) 862-2919
Fax: (603) 862-0298

Internship Criteria

  • The professional level of the company.
  • The artistic value and scale of the productions the company produced.
  • The ability to guide and help student in professional development.
  • The ability to bridge professional connection for the student.

Internship opportunities that will be considered for the REACH program:

For Theatre

  • LORT theaters, such as Long Wharf Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Seattle Rep, etc.
  • Well established regional theatres, such as Santa Fe Opera, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, etc.
  • Well established internship programs in major cities, like Manhattan Theatre Club, Lincoln Center, The Julliard School, Second City, etc.
  • Professional production companies, such as Disney, Cirque du Soleil, ETC, PRG, etc.

For Dance

  • An apprenticeship with a company like Mark Morris or Paul Taylor for a summer
  • An internship with Broadway Dance Center or Steps in NYC
  • An assistant Choreographer for an Equity Theater

Internships that will NOT be considered for the REACH program

  • Theatres within 50 miles of UNH: Prescott Park Festival, Seacoast Rep
  • Theatres that do not have full production staff
  • Theatres that do not support professional connections
  • Mass training programs that do not offer direct involvement with a company
  • Graduate programs; assistantships

Application Requirements

  1. A resume, portfolio or dance reel
  2. An acceptance letter from the internship
  3. Statement about internship including:
    - The value of the internship, including the educational benefit and its potential for future opportunities.
    - A general overview of the internship program.
    - Length of the internship.
    - Expected hours of work.
    - Itemized statement of compensation/stipend/housing allowance offered by company.
    - Estimated expenses not covered by company offer.
  4. Name of a faculty member willing to advocate for you


Timeline for Submissions

Summer Awards
The REACH committee begins reviewing applications starting in mid-March.

For Post Grads
For fall internships: The REACH committee begins reviewing applications starting in mid-March.
For spring internships: The REACH committee begins reviewing applications starting early November.

Award Amounts

  • Summer: A total of $3000 of funding support available per academic year
  • Fall/Spring: A total of $5000 of funding support available per academic year

Examples of Internship Opportunities:


Florida Studio Theatre (a LORT D five theatre complex in Sarasota, FL) is seeking quality Acting Apprentices for the 2014-15 Season.  I am interested in the possibility of hiring recent acting graduates (or student actors that will have graduated before September, 2013) from your department as Acting Apprentices at Florida Studio Theatre.  The Apprentice season runs from September 2, 2014-June 2, 2015.  The Apprentice Company totals 12 members per season.  We are seeking both musical theatre performers and non-musical theatre actors.

The Florida Studio Theatre Acting Apprentice Program offer practical and educational training in a professional Theatre environment. The weekly schedule varies, but will include classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances and each Apprentice will work in other areas of the Theatre as well.  Apprentices may also serve on running crews and may earn EMC points by understudying appropriate Mainstage roles.  The purpose of the Acting Apprentice program is to help bridge the gap between academic theatre and the professional world and to provide additional training and experience to those individuals who are serious about careers as professional actors. 

There is no cost for the program.  Apprentices earn a stipend of $75 per week plus FST provides free furnished housing.

Consideration for the Acting Apprentice Company requires an audition.  Once a candidate has been invited to apply, that audition requirement can be satisfied by submitting a video audition or by attending auditions in New York, Sarasota and other cities as scheduled.

To be considered for application, interested individuals need only email their photo and resume to

  • Complete an internship or an apprenticeship with a local theater. Participate in summer stock.
  • Network: Talk with people working in the field to find out about jobs and opportunities.
  • Read newspapers and periodicals related to the theater to keep up with new developments. Read the "trades"--magazines and newspapers that report events in the entertainment industry. Read the "Theater" section of daily newspapers to find out about upcoming productions.
  • Get your foot in the door and get involved with productions in any way you can. Be prepared to do various tasks assigned by stage managers or producers.
  • Join professional groups as an opportunity to make contacts.
  • Volunteer with fundraising efforts for the arts.
  • Be aware of scams. Check out the legitimacy of agencies and companies before paying any fees.
  • Be prepared to move to a metropolitan area where more opportunities exist.
  • A career in the arts takes patience, dedication, and luck!
  • Have a back-up plan. Be aware that the unemployment rate for actors hovers around 85%. Develop skills that qualify you for other jobs while you wait for opportunities in acting. Consider pairing theater with another career interest or major to open up more job opportunities.
  • Theater helps students develop verbal and written communication, public speaking, and teamwork skills. These transferable skills are valued by many types of employers.
  • There are many ways to be involved in the theater while pursuing other career options.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005)