TIP TUESDAY: You Have One Word Only

So, it’s August in the land of higher education, and like many incoming Freshman, people of all ages and various stages of their career are getting into back to school mode. As educators and counselors we work hard to empower, but also work to simplify the message of what we do for alumni and students. In other words, for us and for you, it’s about being memorable. Who doesn’t want that?

At Emerson, as we get ready for a new crop of soon to be marketers, broadcast journalists, writers, and filmmakers, I would be remiss if I didn’t include my own peeps, performing artists. So, of course, I have to ask, who here remembers their first acting class? Who remembers that first time you stepped on to a stage or in front of discerning eyes for an audition to make that first impression?

I’m bringing this up because it’s so apparent how the performing arts serves people in a variety of industries, and maybe for you, as you hit the pavement and look at new things to learn. Aside from an appreciation for the craft, these are people who are looking to get in front of the right people for the job of their dreams. These are people getting ready for interviews and who want to make sure that all ducks are in a row. If you’re in the midst of a job search, considering how to network, or how you might rebrand or re-imagine your professional purpose, here’s a list of ways that the mindset of an actor can do more than just entertain.

We actors (educators, counselors, Emersonians, etc.) love words. I’m preaching to the choir here but it’s true which is why it’s important to boil down this sort of preparation into one word prompts.

Presence. “Presence means you hold your own space, control the space around you, and sometimes welcome others into it.” Excerpt from Letters To A Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith, Actor You’re bringing with you a sense of purpose, listening with all of your senses, and showing the employer that you’re invested in fully understanding the opportunity before you. This is time to center yourself apart from the external distractions and internal doubts you might have.

Choice. This involves the key areas of your work, skills and talents that led you to the interview. There is power in showing the connections you’ve made between your past experiences and what your goals are now. Before you even enter the room, you’ve made the conscious choice to be in it and connecting with the person across from you.

Motivation. There’s the saying that acting is reacting. You’ve obviously responded to the job opportunity and similar to choice, you respond to questions with content that reflect what’s motivated you to work in your chosen field. After all, any employer wants to know what motivates you and keeps you engaged.

Authenticity. Actors actually can’t lie. I know, that sounds weird but hear me out. Yes, we’re portraying a fictional being, sometimes someone ions removed from our actual selves, but there’s no way we’re convincing if we’re not channeling actual experiences that allow us to express, well, actual human emotions. And no, you don’t have to be so over the top or perform a monologue of your professional attributes. Just pace yourself and remember why you want the gig in the first place. That honesty comes through.

Breathe. Yup. You’ve got to get in some deep breaths. There’s nothing worse than opening your mouth for that first answer and hearing a voice that almost feels separate from your body! Luckily most interviews aren’t in huge theatres where you have to project, but you get my point. Let your true voice come through, literally and figuratively.

For more insights, check out this article and this one as well.

Start rehearsing!

By Jessica Chance
Jessica Chance Assistant Director, Liaison to Alumni and Graduate Students Jessica Chance