So you’ve left university with a shiny new Drama degree, but has anyone told you what you can actually do with it? Sure, you can pretend to be a tree better than anyone in the bizz – but it’s not always immediately obvious how you can translate that (admittedly priceless) skill into proper, paid work.
The obvious route would be to the follow to yellow brick road all the way to Hollywood and the silver screen, but not everyone is destined to a life in the limelight like Drama grads Dame Judi Dench and David Walliams*.
But don’t worry – not everyone who studies Drama goes on to be an actor or director, and you will have picked up plenty of skills by the time you graduate. You’d be surprised how many different sectors find your types of skills attractive – and how many recruiters will be vying to snap you up if you learn to promote those skills properly.
So to give you a head start, here’s our top list of skills most Drama grads should have picked up come graduation time:
If there’s one thing that Drama students should be good at, it’s speaking in front of a crowd. Drama courses should teach you how to battle your nerves, so you’ll likely be a natural at giving presentations – a skill a huge number of industries will be interested in. Television or radio presenting is an obvious place to start, but politicians, PRs, advertising and marketing executives, HRs and even teachers all need to be pro public speakers. All those Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper’s don’t look particularly preposterous now do they?
Far from the commonly held belief that theatrical people are all “me, me, me”, drama students make natural altruists. You’re actively encouraged to be sensitive other people’s feelings during a Drama degree and tap into how your own emotions are similar to other people’s – an essential skill for a job in caring. There are lots of opportunities to launch community arts projects, but a career in the charity sector, social work, drama therapy or childcare might also be calling your name.
Although there is some acting in Drama courses, there’s also typically a lot of theory and an emphasis on learning about the whole process of production. With this in mind Drama graduates often gravitate behind the camera and make brilliant stage or studio managers, directors, producers and set designers. Being famous isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway – no one wants to be papped taking their rubbish out in their pyjamas or, worse still, snogging a waiter called Pablo after one too many sambucas.
It’s a cliché, but no one can take rejection quite like a jobbing actor – we learnt that (and much much more) from Joey in Friends – so Drama students are encouraged throughout their degrees to develop a thick skin. With the jobs market as it is at the moment, there has never been a better time to be good at dealing with rejection, but there are lots of industries where a thick skin and a stiff upper-lip are a massive asset. Modelling is an obvious one, but artist management, music A&R, finance, booking and journalism are other industries where the thick-skinned thrive. So see! You’re not dead inside! You’ve just been practising for your new, high-flying career!
Most Drama degrees have a major research project or dissertation as part of the examination process – so Drama grads should be pretty good researchers by the time they graduate. This makes them naturals for careers as policy advisors, cultural resource management, planners, biographers and arts historians. Dissertations weren’t just an annoying interruption
*Somewhat off point, but I really enjoy the idea of these two being friends – I bet their conversation would be riddled with obscenities and filth of the utmost degree.