Looking Inward and Looking Outward

by Amy Harris

in MetLife/TCG A-ha! Think It Do It

Post image for Looking Inward and Looking Outward

(MTC Intern Supervisors hold a small group discussion during the Diversity and Inclusion Workshop led by Gwen Cochran Hadden. Photo: Amy Harris)

I began by reflecting on the rewarding recruitment trips that I took this winter to Historically Black Universities and Colleges (chronicled in my May TCG Circle post) and wondering how I could continue to engage students beyond our grant‘s expiration date.  I realized that the students I met could obtain career counseling and advice from their drama departments, but I wasn’t sure how students, theater and non-theatre majors alike, would navigate the hiring process without that support. How might they learn best practices for crafting a résumé or a cover letter?  How can they become less intimidated by the interview process?  After searching the internet for resources, MTC’s spring Education intern, Victoria Barclay, and I realized that the videos posted on these topics were mostly geared towards corporate jobs and were generally flat and boring, or failed to be engaging. To help fill this void, we’ve decided to create short videos centered on best practices for the creation of résumés and cover letters, and tips to demystify the interview process; all of the videos will be tailored towards individuals seeking an internship with a non-profit arts organization.  These videos will be available on the internship page of MTC’s website, but may also be linked to by various career centers and university theatre departments’ webpages.  We are currently in pre-production for the videos and hope to have them ready in time for the 2016 Winter/Spring internship deadline in mid-November.

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(Shooting scripts for Intern Recruitment Videos. Photo: Eric Szkarlat)

Since so much of our work with this grant was focused on recruitment, we also wanted to ensure that all applicants received a fair review of their materials.  Given this goal, we thought it appropriate to look at the organization as a whole and ask what we could do to help create an unbiased and open-minded hiring process each semester. We hired consultant Gwen Cochran Hadden of Cochran Hadden Royston Associates to lead a diversity and inclusion workshop for internship supervisors as well as a separate session for MTC’s senior staff.  Each group worked with Gwen for two half-day sessions to discuss topics including the company’s explicit and implicit goals, the culture of the organization and our offices, and the assumptions we (sometimes unknowingly) make about ourselves and others.  As a supplement to this work, our Human Resources Director Vincent Losito and I had a one-on-one workshop with Alan Richter of QED Consulting to learn practical techniques that intern supervisors can employ when reviewing intern applications to help counteract any unconscious biases. The tools we gained from this session will be conveyed to MTC’s intern supervisors during professional development workshops later this year. Both workshops were an excellent jumping off point for discussion on these rich and complex topics looking not only at race and ethnicity, but gender, class, sexual identity, and disability.

All the work that has been accomplished through the A-Ha! grant has been deeply rewarding for me, the Education Department, and the company as a whole. Fundamentally, this opportunity has allowed us to introduce the internship to students and professors who may not have been familiar with the Kaplan Program.  But equally important, the conversations engendered by this process have helped inform and develop how we as an organization look at ourselves.

Harris 5.18.15Amy Harris has been the Assistant Education Director and Coordinator of the Paul A. Kaplan Theatre Management Program since February, 2005.  Ms. Harris is a Co-Chair for the New York City Arts-In-Education Roundtable’s annual Face to Face Conference and has served on the Conference Committee since 2002. Prior to moving to New York, Ms. Harris worked in the Pacific Northwest as a teaching artist and administrator at Seattle Children’s Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Youth Theatre Northwest. She has acted as both a panelist and moderator discussing best practices for internship programs for A.R.T./New York, the American Theatre Wing, New York University, and at the Face to Face Conference. Ms. Harris holds a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MA in Theatre Education from New York University.