No matter what career students hope to pursue after graduation, working in a brand new arts center is a rare and relatable job opportunity that is now available on the Virginia Tech campus.
The Center for the Arts recently hired around 90 students to fill its staff before the opening season. These students fill positions ranging from production to patron services.
“It’s about 40 (students) for production, 40 for patron services, and about 10 for other positions, including graduate students,” said Jonathan Boulter, associate director of patron services.
Production includes everything from lighting to sound to rigging: all the work behind the scenes.
Patron services involve the more visible roles like box office attendants and ushers. Administration covers marketing and communications, and others are involved in assisting with gallery work.
While these positions are currently filled, Boulter said that doesn’t mean students shouldn’t apply.
Boulter was involved in each step of the recent hiring process. Students attended a career fair held by the Center for the Arts, applied to various positions and were later brought in for the interview process.
Haley Randolph, a sophomore majoring in environmental science, said she was asked to come in for an interview two weeks after the career fair. Two weeks after the interview, she was hired.
Randolph was hired in the patron services department as a box office worker and an usher. Patron services employees are mainly hired based on personality and communication skills, while production employees are hired based on experience.
“We chose students that we felt would best fit our needs inside the center,” Boulter said.
Working in a professional arts center gives students a unique experience compared to other student jobs. It provides students the opportunity to work in a professional environment and apply their experiences to any future career.
“It’s literally like working in a big city performing arts center,” Boulter said. “I think that’s a huge asset to the students to be able to do that.”
Student employees are currently working toward the center’s opening performance night on Nov. 1.
Production employees are helping with lights and moving things around, while patron services is focusing on box office operations.
Ushers have already trained and are prepared for the night of the first performance in the theater, which will feature the Philip Glass Ensemble.
“Our first true audience will be opening night on a sold out show of over 1,000 people,” Boulter said. “It will be a lot of learning as they go, but we’re very excited.”
In addition to working during performances, students are involved in the daily operation of the venue. They must be knowledgeable of every aspect of the Center for the Arts and its shows.
Employees like Randolph were taken on a tour of the building, including the backstage area and dressing rooms, to learn as much as possible.
“If there are any questions about the building or any future shows, I’m the person to go to,” Randolph said.
Randolph said she hopes to gain professional work experience from her position and looks forward to being able to sit in on shows as an usher.
Even though she is considering environmental consulting as a career, she said she enjoys having the opportunity to work in the arts.
“I like art, so I’m just exploring what I like and not necessarily what I want to do in the future,” Randolph said.
The center’s employers recommend this line of work for any type of student, especially those who want to work in development and have a passion for arts. They try to give students as many learning opportunities as possible within the center to benefit them in their future.
“We’ve told our students if there’s something they’re looking to do or looking to learn, (to) let us know, because we love to be able to get them as much experience as possible,” Boulter said.
Boulter said he hopes to be able to provide an opportunity for many students to experience working for the Center for the Arts and gain a passionate knowledge of arts.
“We’re looking for students we hire to become ambassadors for the Center for the Arts and go back to others and share their passion with fellow students so it carries on,” Boulter said.
For more information, the application and job descriptions for the positions in the center can be found on the Center for the Arts’ website.