As a die-hard fan of The West Wing, when I hear the phrase, “What’s next?” I immediately think of President Bartlet. I find myself equal parts overwhelmed and exhilarated by the seemingly endless number of possibilities of directions my life could go in the next year, the next decade, the next century. I am curious, nervous, excited and impatient all at the same time about the next step.
The practical question of, “No really, what are you going to do after this internship?” stares me in the face every day. There is pressure to have it all figured out (from external AND internal sources, trust me). There is pressure to choose a location and stay there for more than nine months when this has hardly been my trend these last few years. There is pressure to get a “JOB job” – the technical term for a full-time position with a salary and benefits.
Not too long ago, Jenny Blake led a webinar about how career development has changed. Jenny says, “The era of climbing the ladder as a method of managing your career is out. We are now in the age of the app… Rather than follow a linear path, learn how to explore, experiment and build a strong foundation that suits your dynamic talents and goals.” This is how I am looking at the next few years of my professional life as a teaching artist.
Sometime in the next five years I want to go to graduate school to study theatre for young audiences. I am committed to making that a reality. But I know that I’m not at that stage yet. So until that time comes, I want to gain a variety of experiences that will help me grow as a teaching artist. There are so many organizations I want to work for and learn from. There are training programs that excite me. There are curricula out there that I want to master. I want to run an education department someday, so I want to see how today’s education directors and established teaching artists are doing it.
I am twenty-two years old. I can go anywhere in the world after this internship. I want to explore unknown territory, and invest my time and energy in meaningful experiences that will expand my skill set, deepen my passion and challenge my creativity.