Alfred University News

Career Development Center, Performing Arts Division, offer students professional development workshops

Throughout the 2019-20 academic year, faculty in Alfred University’s Division of Performing Arts and staff at the Robert R. McComsey Career Development Center have offered a Professional Development Workshop Series to support students seeking summer internships and employment.


ALFRED, NY – Throughout the 2019-20 academic year, faculty in Alfred University’s Division of Performing Arts and staff at the Robert R. McComsey Career Development Center have offered a Professional Development Workshop Series to support students seeking summer internships and employment.

In prior years, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance Colleen Wahl and Technical Director Zachary Hamm each spent time mentoring individual students looking for summer work experience in the performing arts. Together with Art Career Advisor Corey Fecteau of the Career Development Center, they created a four-part workshop series to guide students through resume writing, finding opportunities, interviewing, and preparing for the summer experience.

The fourth and final workshop in the series, scheduled for Thursday, April 23, at 3 p.m., will be conducted online via Zoom. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the performing arts sector, this workshop will highlight ways students can find and create meaningful work experiences and advance their careers.

Two workshops held during in the fall 2019 semester focused on preparing written application materials and finding internship opportunities, including what to look for in a position posting. For the inaugural first session, guest speaker Adam Zonder, production manager for the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY, gave a presentation on effectively writing a resume and cover letter. Zonder’s presentation was based upon his decades of experience hiring summer employees and interns. In the second workshop, Hamm, Wahl, and Fecteau were joined by Maureen Weiss, assistant professor of Performance Design and Technology. Students received direct feedback on their resumes and discovered resources for finding and evaluating performing arts job postings.

The workshop series team started spring 2020 semester with a conversation on best practices for phone and in-person interviews. This workshop, the third in the series, was particularly timely: a few days later, 10 students attended the USITT Upstate NY’s Frank Willard Winter Session and Job Fair, where several of those students had onsite interviews. Visiting Assistant Professor Eliza Beckwith ’78, New York City-based director and an Alfred University alumna, joined Hamm and Fecteau for this workshop.  Beckwith shared her experience in directing and hiring in the performing arts, providing insights into the interview process.

The positive impact of this workshop series is evident in the success of current students. Sarah “Luci” Busch and Caleb Scott both accepted internships at the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, MI; Ethan Samaha accepted a production internship at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC; and Shannon Klotz accepted a position to run the arts programs for Camp Canadensis, a summer camp in the Poconos.

These summer work experiences provide the opportunity for Alfred University students to deepen their skills in immersive professional environments, expand their professional networks beyond the Alfred University community, and provide an advantage in finding work in the performing arts after graduation. The success of this workshop series provides an effective model for future Performing Arts-Career Development Center collaborations, and the collaborators look forward to expanding the series for the 2020-21 academic year.

While the final workshop set for this Thursday will feature a performing arts focus, all students interested in careers in the arts are welcome to join the conversation: contact Corey Fecteau at fecteauc@alfred.edu for the Zoom link.