Welcome to week two of “Trailblazer Tuesdays!” This is where we feature outstanding entry-level employees who are making a huge impact in their field.
Name: Allison Orr
College/University Attended: Columbia College Chicago
Degree: BA in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management, concentration in Performing Arts Management
Graduation Year: 2012
Current Occupation: Event Manager, Jam Theatricals
Q: Where do you currently work?
A: I currently work for Jam Theatricals. We present and produce Broadway series across the country. We also dabble in special event concerts like Straight No Chaser, Sarah Brightman, Harry Connick, Jr., etc.
Q: Tell me about your job. What do you do?
A: I oversee roughly half of our markets across the country, and work in conjunction with the Broadway tours that come through. Our seasons generally run from November to May, so during that time I focus on advancing, working with our on-site representatives, and settling shows; between January and March, we’re making building all of the upcoming seasons for each market. This means routing dates with agents, creating offers, mapping out seasons, and overseeing ticket builds for each show. I also oversee all of our Straight No Chaser shows throughout all markets.
Q: What interested you about this job?
A: The ability to work with multiple venues on various shows definitely attracted me to this job. We have our office in Chicago, but impact cities across the country.
Q: What do you find most challenging about this job?
A: Haha, ironically, “working with multiple venues on various shows”. It’s a lot to keep track of, and definitely takes serious organization and follow-through.
Q: Did you intern with any companies? If so, which ones?
A: I actually started my career apprenticing (as opposed to interning) at a small theater when I was 14. I continued to work there for about seven years afterwards, including a summer as an intern for the Executive Director. Additionally, I interned at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Broadway in Chicago.
Q: Tell me about the types of internships you’ve had. What did your responsibilities entail?
A: Steppenwolf and Broadway in Chicago were wonderful experiences, in very different ways.
Steppenwolf has an acclaimed internship program, and I was honored to take part. My intern class consisted of a student who traveled to Chicago from Ireland for the internship, a student from Harvard, and students from University of Chicago, NYU, etc. The structure of the program was great. Each department had one intern; I was the theater management intern and reported to the General Manager, Director of Finance, and Company Manager. We had weekly luncheons with different departments where they would talk about their careers, history of Steppenwolf, explain their daily responsibilities, and allow for questions. It was a true internship experience (and there aren’t many like this out there…)
Broadway In Chicago was completely opposite, but still great. It was a true work experience. This was my first peek into commercial theater, and I loved it. I had more operational responsibilities that I loved, like weekly safety checks of each venue, and also entry-level office duties like refilling the copier, fridge, etc. that no one really likes, but everyone must do at some point.
Q: Tell me about a challenging situation you encountered in one of your internships.
A: During one of my internships, a prop cell phone from a show disappeared, and we needed to replace it. The Director of Operations said, “go find one”. That was it… just “find one”. Within seven minutes I was at the Verizon store picking up a display-dummy smart phone. This was a challenge, but also a chance to prove myself.
Q: What advice would you give to those currently participating in an internship program?
A: There’s nothing wrong with being “the intern” and/or “the youngest one”, but be the most responsible, timely, optimistic, friendly, most-ready-to-learn (…the positive adjectives continue) intern there is- no matter what the circumstance. Shock people when you tell them your age.
Q: At 16, you started your own theatre company and mounted several successful productions. What did you learn from this experience?
A: I definitely learned about hard work, but also about serious reward. The challenge was huge, as the company was completely student-run. So many thought it would never work. I really feel like we proved that young people can do anything we put our minds to. We sold out every show!
Q: What was the best advice given to you in college?
A: Use all the resources available to you, especially professors, other students, student opportunities, workshops, networking events… oh, and those student discounts!
Q: What do you think is the best way to bridge the gap between college and entry level work?
A: Don’t have a gap. This industry is so competitive. In order to even get a (good, paid, full-time, etc.) job after graduation, you better already be working in the field.
Q: Do you have a mantra?
A: Make it work.
A: Definitely seafood! Especially sushi and raw oysters.
Favorite Leisure Activity?
A: Spending time with family and friends.
A: That’s a hard one! I love comedies and suspense/thrillers…. I just saw Non-Stop with Liam Neeson, and it was great.
A: Hmm… it’s ever-changing 🙂
A: “To love another person is to see the face of God”
A: We’re currently planning our honeymoon to the Bahamas; I’m pretty excited about it!