Anticipating Life Post Drama School

After years of long rehearsals, memorizing too many lines to count, studying the likes of Stanislavsky, Hagen, and Shakespeare, creating lifelong friendships and collaboration partners, and perhaps even acting in or writing a thesis, you’re about to graduate with an acting degree. But now what? Before anyone freaks about the prospect of being thrusted out into the “real world” without a helping hand, here’s a step-by-step guide to inform the way you navigate this exciting but also overwhelming time in your career.

One year before you’re set to graduate, be sure that you’re on track with all the correct classes and credits you need to finish on time. If you don’t already have built-in meetings with your advisors, reach out to them before the end of your penultimate year and ask for a meeting to review where you stand. It isn’t unheard of to find an overlooked requirement that could push back your graduation, and you don’t want to be in that situation if it can be avoided. Also, be sure to get their opinion on elective courses you want to take in your final year and/or possible thesis topics.

If you are planning to jump straight into auditioning, start thinking about where you want to live. Are you considering heading right to a big city like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? If so, be sure to go over the pros and cons of different places. It is also important to start reaching out to all your professional connections. Whether it’s colleagues you’ve worked with as part of a summer internship or even family friends, it’s important to touch base and see if they have the power to hire you in some capacity after graduation. Even if they’re not currently able to give you work, keeping the lines of communication open can help you stay at the top of their mind.

Having headshots, an acting resume, and demo reels will make auditioning that much easier. It is also smart to keep another job while you are auditioning because many of these cities are expensive to live in. A flexible job where it is easy to find covers, like a restaurant, is one of the best choices. Finding the right agent for you is also an important detail. It may be more important than finding a therapist. The agent needs to know your wants and needs and must remain dedicated to finding your auditions.

It is important to remember, there will be days where you feel like you’re on top of the world doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing, and other days when you seriously consider moving on to something else. Have patience, celebrate the little triumphs, support your fellow artists, and be sure to have a life outside of being an actor. You got this! Post drama school can be stressful, but a positive attitude and remaining ready is all it might take to make your career.


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