In the Spotlight

An Intern's Experience

by Helen Drysdale, Hanover High School Senior

The UVBEP helped design a pilot internship program at Hanover High School. The following is an example of a student's internship experience.

Helen Drysdale
12th grade
Age 18
Internship Site: Northern Stage

I saw a sign about the internship in the hallway near my locker, and one of the internship options it advertised was in theater. I am a star-struck drama junkie, so I was immediately interested. Imagine! A chance to work in a professional theater! I had often lamented that my theater experience was entirely within the school or community, instead of a 'real' theater. I talked to Patricia Lang in the spring and by that fall she had contacted Northern Stage to ask if they could use me. Could they!?! Theaters, whether community or professional, are always interested in free labor!

I had to write up a résumé and watch some videos about interviewing for a job, which were unnecessary in my particular case, but are useful skills to have. The contact at Northern Stage was my volleyball coach, Jodi, so she helped me get started right away in the box office and front of house. I worked with Dave, the house manager, and Beth, the box office manager. I'll admit, I was terrified at first because it was opening night of a show and everything was in chaos and nobody really noticed me or bothered to help me figure anything out. But it was simple ushering at first, nothing complicated, but since there are volunteer ushers all the time, the actors and other employees didn't know that I was something special.

I started getting more comfortable and capable as an usher, and I worked the concession stand, regularly cleaning up during the second act. The hardest part was trying to fit five hours a week into my schedule with volleyball and school work. Then I started working more for Beth, handing out pre-sold tickets from a new location to ease the traffic at the box-office. She told me once that when I'm not there she has one of the ushers do it, but that I do it the best because I really call out to people, letting them know that they have to pick up tickets with me. I'm sure I was glowing after that!

I got to go into the actual office administrative end of things one day when there was no school. Then people realized that I was really more than an enthusiastic usher. I made copies and deliveries for part of the morning, and then I got to answer the phone and take messages and ticket orders while there was a staff meeting. I learned a little about how to use the Choice ticketing software, and found out the hard way about how Brooke (the boss) wants her phone messages delivered. Then I got to sit in on a read-through rehearsal for a Streetcar Named Desire, the next show, and I met Jimmy and Alex and Patrick, the 'real' interns who work at NS. They were really nice and they remembered me when they saw me later; that is a good feeling!

Then I got transferred to the costume shop where I worked with Toni and Wendi, who were very helpful and kind, giving me simple jobs that still made me feel like I was doing something important. I learned several tricks about costuming, like fake French cuffs - a way to let clothes have the give they need to let the actor dance. I sewed buttons and cuffs and snaps and a seam on a jacket. It was a joy to spend hours sitting in the shop, listening to the to women or the occasional tech person who wandered in to help out. I met Nate and Karl, two wonderful techies.

The most fun I've had was making the hats for Music Man. They are crazy and huge things made of netting and fake flowers and I got to make three or four of them!

I'm still trying to find ways to get myself involved in new departments and get myself noticed, but I really enjoy learning the on-the-job skills that I hope to use later in life!

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