Preparation for Post Graduation

There are several things to be considered by theatre and dance students preparing for a professional career:

  • Résumés
  • Recommendations
  • Portfolios
  • Graduate School

Résumés, letters of recommendation, and portfolios

Here are some tips about what you will need to enter the job market. This work information will be helpful whether you are interested in professional graduate school or other employment. These materials are covered in great detail for majors in the T/D 390 course. It will help you and the department if, by the time you are a second semester junior, you have the following materials:

1. Résumé

A typed, up-to-date résumé of your theatrical experience and work. You should always have a few copies on hand, especially when traveling. You may be asked to submit a current résumé when applying for positions in the department. Please see your advisor for information about format. The Career Center also has résumés guides to help you get started. Make sure to ASK your references if you may use them on your résumé and offer them a copy of the completed resume for their files.

2. Recommendations

At least three letters of recommendation from people with whom you have worked. Your advisors will likely be happy to write letters for you. Make sure that you ask your writers if they can give you a positive recommendation. Make sure to ask in a timely manor so they have time to write a thoughtful letter and offer them a copy of your résumé as well.

3. Portfolio and Photographs of Your Work:

  • Actors should have a good quality head shot to distribute along with your resume. A good quality headshot is usually a close up; full front shot that shows your most dynamic and interesting aspect.
  • Designers and technicians should build up a portfolio of their work. Plans, renderings, and light plots are important to the technical person. They should be your best work. They should be matted and be of traveling size, stored in a traveling case. Designers and technicians should have good quality color photos of their own work and other productions they have worked on. Photographs of scenery, lighting, costumes and props are all valuable from the Theatre and Dance office. Remember three good pictures are worth more to you than 15 bad ones. No need for 20 shots of the same show either; two or three will be fine. Learn how to take good photos of your work. Talk to your advisor about specifics.
  • Directors and stage managers also need a portfolio, which should include copies of prompt scripts, program notes, color plans, and one or two quality color photos of selected scenes from each production showing interesting composition. Everything should be put together neatly and be descriptive of you and your work. Dvds of productions are also useful.
  • Dancers and choreographers should keep a dvd record of all their work along with one photograph from each dance piece they perform in, and multiple photographs for dances choreographed. The Department records all of the dance concerts and will assist you in keeping an up-to-date record of your work. Check with the Theatre and Dance office to get copies of dvds and photographs made, you will need to provide labeled dvds and cds. Each dancer should make sure to have a full body solo dance shot to use in place of a headshot.

Please collect all of your materials before you graduate. A 3-ring notebook is on the shelf in the theatre and dance office for each major. This is a place for you to keep copies of programs, papers written in class, or other items you will want in your portfolio.

Graduate school

Most graduate programs in theatre and dance want to see some evidence of your work – actors audition, designers submit portfolios, directors and stage managers submit prompt books and production concepts, dancers audition and/or submit dvds. Generally, application deadlines for graduate programs are early January to mid-February—some are earlier. Start looking at programs early, preferably in the fall of your junior year. Try to visit as many programs as possible and arrange to meet with faculty and students in each program whether or not you have an application interview. The best way to measure the potential fit between you and a graduate program is to speak with the people with whom you’ll be working. Some programs have strict entrance requirements: GPA of 3.3 or above, GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores, submission of written work. Check the application procedure carefully at each school – there seldom is a standard process. Speak with your advisor for help.

There are many places students interested in performance and design can audition for professional summer and year-round work. URTA (University and Repertory Theatre Association) regional auditions are held each January for graduate school placements. Actors planning to audition need to register with URTA in early November, and should have audition pieces prepared by then. Your advanced acting teacher can help you prepare. You may choose to work with a faculty member during the fall semester.

All auditions and portfolios are presented to the Theatre and Dance faculty in mid-December. Directors and designers may also schedule interviews at regional URTA auditions, but note that applications stage managers and directors are due in early October. Directors are sometimes asked to audition – check the application materials available online at

Career center

The Gustavus Career Center is eager to assist students in at all stages for their career explorations, planning and decisions.

  • if you are unsure of your direction they offer an interest inventory
  • if you are exploring career ideas they assist with Interim Career Explorations
  • if you are seeking experience they assist with semester and summer internships
  • if you are looking for a job they assist with résumés, letters, interviewing and job search strategies

Go to their webpage at and click on G-Net logo. Complete the profile including your Career Interests so that you will receive email notices with information specific to your career interests.

The Career Center can also assist you in using the Gustavus Alumni group on to seek out Gustavus alumni to contact for career information. While these people are not prepared to offer you a job, you may find them to be extremely supportive and helpful in guiding you toward a job.

Note that résumés for performers and designers are different than typical job résumés. Speak to your advisor for details.