Navigating the transition from student of theater to working theater professional can be challenging, and the UMass undergraduate theater majors often seek out faculty members for practical advice. In response to the need for career preparation resources, the Undergraduate Committee created a new series of professional development seminars, called ‘Fridays at Four’, to complement the one-on-one mentoring our undergraduates receive. In the 2014-15 academic year, the inaugural series of these seminars offered career advice, networking opportunities, and exposure to the experiences of working professionals in the theater.
We look forward to another successful year of Fridays at Four events in 2015-16. These events also provide a forum for UMass students past and present to exchange insights, advice, and stories. We are lining up brilliant and impactful speakers who can provide students with fresh insights into the world of theater. However, with our desire to bring in speakers who can help our theater students plan and begin their careers comes a need for funding. We need these funds to pay for the costs associated with bringing the speakers to our department: transportation, accommodations, dining, honoraria or speaker fees, and related hospitality expenses.
These seminars are a great opportunity to build valuable professional connections and to learn about the business of theater. UMass theater student Carrie Radigan said, “I met Michelle Bossy from Primary Stages at one of the Fridays at Four events. I really liked hearing her talk about the theater company she worked for, so out of curiosity I looked it up and noticed there was an opening for an artistic intern. I asked her if it was at all possible to meet up over coffee during Spring Break in NYC, applied for the position and she interviewed me! We talked for a bit and she remembered me from Fridays at Four and offered the position to me on the spot.” (You can read about Carrie on the UMass website: http://www.umass.edu/gateway/feature/students-work-0)
All are welcome and the events are free of charge. Stay tuned at http://www.umass.edu/theater/fridaysatfour.php for the announcement of upcoming Fridays at Four events.