7 Smart Things You Should Do After Graduating From a Drama Program

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Every spring, conservatories and university drama programs across the country unleash a small tidal wave of talented and hopeful young performers ready to take their shot at becoming professional artists.

Everyone knows it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get through an actor training program, but now comes the big question: What to do next?

Opinions may differ on this, but having taught at a couple of prestigious schools, I have a few pieces of advice.

1. Celebrate!
Chances are you worked your butt off, so it might be time to collapse, or at least find a nice, low-stress summer job and spend some time laughing and goofing off with your friends. You’re about to enter a whole new phase of your life and believe it or not, you’re going be learning even MORE now—and at a much more rapid pace. Recharge your batteries.

2. Figure out where you’re going next.
The business of professional acting is carried out in major cities. Which one do you want to start out in? Research the various markets and find out as much as you can about each. In addition to New York and Los Angeles, there are now also viable markets in places like Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Florida. Investigate!

3. Save some money.
Unless you already live in a major market, you’re going to be moving soon and you’ll need some cash to tide you over until you get fully settled with an apartment and a job. Save as much as you can. Major cities aren’t cheap!

READ: An Actor’s Guide to Life After Graduation

4. Start learning again.
Once you land in your chosen city and have secured housing and a job, find yourself a class. I know, I know: You just finished four years’ worth of classes, but you are now entering a much more competitive arena with some very skilled players. A reputable class will help you assess the competition and understand what level of skill will be expected of you.

5. Build your network.
Reconnect with your school friends. Meet their friends. Support your friends when they are doing shows or shooting their short films. You’re now in the process of filling your address book with people who you will hopefully know and work with for the rest of your career. Life-changing auditions do not always come from agents. Often, they come from friends who recommend us to their friends. Support them and they will support you.

6. Know the terms.
Start to learn about unions, agents, managers, casting directors, etc. You don’t have to conquer all that stuff immediately, but it’s good to at least begin to understand who does what and how it all works.

7. Have fun!
This is one of the most exciting, enjoyable times in your career. Chances are it will be filled with rapid change and a brand new cast of highly colorful characters. It’s a time for exploration and discovery. Out of those experiences, a career path will emerge. Audition for anything you can. Stay busy and focused. And have a great time!

Looking to get cast? Apply to casting calls on Backstage.

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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David Dean Bottrell
David Dean Bottrell is the author of “WORKING ACTOR: Breaking In, Making a Living, and Making a Life in the Fabulous Trenches of Show Business” (Random House). A veteran bi-coastal actor, his many credits include guest star roles on “FBI: Most Wanted,” “Blacklist,” “Modern Family,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” “Law & Order: SUV,” “Mad Men,” “True Blood,” “Ugly Betty,” “Boston Legal,” and “Rectify.” His theater work includes stints at the Long Wharf and Second Stage. WorkingActorTheBook.com.
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