Today is my last day as the Marketing and Development Apprentice at Olney Theatre Center. After nearly a year of living and working here, I’m going on to my next step. Although I feel prepared to go out into my career, I’m sad to be leaving. I’m definitely going to miss this place, these people, and these adventures.
I can’t think of a more unique experience than an apprenticeship at a theatre. I don’t think most other career fields can do something like this. (Maybe there are other career fields with similar models but I’d rather you not tell me about them, it ruins my point.) For one year, we are working at a theater in every single facet of the organization. We’re not going to get a coffee order or doing a bunch of busy work. Instead we’re serving as ASMs on shows, writing press releases, assistant designing costumes, planning opening night receptions, writing blog posts, helping to teach students... We’re fulfilling needs that are essential to the functions of Olney Theatre Center.
And I’d say the apprenticeship at Olney is even more unique than at most other DC Area theaters. A lot of the other apprenticeships that provide housing have an apartment, maybe a couple blocks away, in which all the apprentices live together. I guess that’s cool. But Olney Theatre Center is a campus, and we actually live at the theatre. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to fully explain the magic of that. My bedroom is above the Historic Theatre. I can literally walk out of my bedroom door, take a few steps, and be watching a show. Broadway performers have seen me in my bonnet. These stars that shine on our stages have also hung out with the apprentices at our parties or to watch Game of Thrones. Many of these actors grow to be our friends, which is not something I would get anywhere but here.
But it’s my fellow apprentices that truly make it so wonderful here. I’ve written about them at length before, so I won’t go into too many details except to say: I cannot imagine this last year without them. They were not only colleagues, but confidants. We’ve crafted memories that I will treasure forever. I have made friendships that I can say with certainty will follow me throughout the rest of my life. I am so grateful for them.
I came here having just graduated college, knowing that I wanted to work in theatre but not knowing much else. I was terrified about my future and grateful for this apprenticeship because I thought it would at least “delay real life,” and give me time to make some decisions. I was scared of being an adult and did not feel ready to lose the safety net of school that I’d had the past 16+ years.
But I’m leaving feeling ready. I am 100% prepared for my next step and owe that entirely to my time here. I came here not really feeling like an adult, but leave knowing that I am.
The best part is that I know I’ll always have a home here. I may not be about to become a full time staff member like so many of the former apprentices, but I’ll always feel welcome at OTC.
And I’ll definitely be back.