Read everything, take notes, and always, ALWAYS, listen. These are the first words I heard upon the entrance of the Artistic Director at my summer internship orientation. I spent eleven weeks, culminating into roughly 500 hours, working as an unpaid marketing intern at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Bonnie J. Monte, the aforementioned Artistic Director, is possibly the most terrifyingly brilliant woman I’ve ever been in a room with. She followed up her earlier thought with a second one: Few of you will make it. Of course, I assumed she was referring to the 40-something acting apprentices sitting on the adjacent-side of the theatre, but this notion was immediately shattered when I stepped into my 75-square foot cubicle and received my first assignment. The nature of the assignment isn’t important, what is important is that everything I did this summer forced me to utilize the skills that I had learned in my English classes.
Bonnie was right, we needed to know everything in order to succeed. I had to read every play, every article, and all of the director’s notes in order to develop smart and interesting copy for the marketing campaigns that we launched this summer. Knowing how to read critically and write analytically is a skill that never goes out of style. People have no idea how useful these skills can be in so many career fields. Understanding the dramatic literature gave me the opportunity to be the person in the room that had the answer to an obscure question about what Julie Cavendish says to Gwen in Act 3, Scene 2 of The Royal Family. These skills set me apart from the other interns, I was able to do a lot of writing this summer—writing that was published on different mediums to encourage patrons to attend the season’s performances.
I walked out of my internship with a new-found appreciation for English 270 and the countless essays that I’ve written during the last three years. If I could give any advice to English majors and minors, it’s this: never, ever stop. No matter what kind of career you’re looking to pursue, keep reading, keep writing, and keep thinking. Share your ideas, and listen to others. These are all things that we learn as English majors and minors and these skills will never be obsolete. Be the person in the room that knows the answer and has read more than they were asked. The English department encourages students to continue to teach themselves long after they’ve graduated and this, above all else, is the most valuable skill you’ll take with you post-graduation. Never, ever stop.
– Katie Poalacci ’16