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What's it like doing a theatre minor?

I'm an engineering major and I've recently realized that I really miss being involved in theatre - I used to do the plays in high school. I'm considering doing a theatre minor, but I don't know if it's going to do me any good since my career is probably not going to be related to theatre at all. What's it like doing a theatre minor and what are the benefits? Is it going to be of any help to me career-wise? Should I consider doing one or not?

#theatre #minor #college-minor #engineering #theatre-minor

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Lori’s Answer

Hi Isha! That's an easy one - will the classes you'd take to get the minor be fun for you and fulfill a part of the college experience that you're not getting via extra curricular opportunities? Will it in any way make it harder for you to focus on your primary degree? If not - DO IT! I'm speaking as a woman who was the weirdo in our dance company who was the only Electrical and Computer Engineering major. And has that helped me post college? Heck yes! I wish I had also pursued a theater minor and I'm actually researching how best to reengage in the theater world now that I'm as adulty and adult as I'm going to get! Here's how:

  1. As you likely have seen, many incredibly smart people who make excellent engineers aren't especially good communicators, which means they have amazing ideas but may not be interested in, or capable of, expressing them to others.
  2. A uniquely creative-plus-logical person like you is like the universal translator for "geekdom" - you enjoy the elements of theater (and you don't mention whether your prefer stagecraft and technical elements of theater or the performance part, but either works) and understand the communication needed to put on a production but also understand the difficult topics that seem intimidating or too complex for non technical people.
  3. Being able to express yourself well will ALWAYS - I mean ALWAYS - benefit you in the working world, no matter what you do. Your theater experience will make you a better interviewee, better presenter, and better communicator. You'll know how to adapt to unexpected situations (ever had a fellow actor forget a line or miss a stage direction?) You'll listen and pay attention more effectively (you can't "act well your part" unless you know your character's motivations and you can't become another person without getting the details right!) You'll be more fun and engaging in meetings. You'll know how to project so you can be heard. I could go on....
  4. Engaging with people from a totally different discipline will make you a more interesting, more well rounded, and happier person! It's easy to get lost in a world of other engineers and forget that you're no longer even speaking understandable English to non-techies! Engaging with theater-types will help you keep perspective, build confidence if you're struggling with a difficult engineering course (or work topic later on) by reminding you you're not just "one thing" or just good at one thing, broaden your understanding of the world you're working to improve by being an engineer, and give you an outlet for expression that you don't often otherwise find in an engineering career.

I speak from the experience of someone who loved her time in college, was (and is) passionate about technology, but feared losing the "performance" high of being on stage, so I started as a Sales Engineer (make that tech knowledge work by educating the customer and advising on designs) and moved into learning and development - and found my passion! I get to perform for a captive audience every time I teach! All while using what I learned in college (the REAL stuff I learned, not the temporarily-valuable class content :-) ) to make other people's lives better.

One word of caution - you'll find some tough conflicts from time to time. As a theater minor you'll be surrounded by people who are dedicated to theater and that's how they spend all of their time. Some may dismiss you because they feel you have to "fully commit" to it to really belong. You may sometimes feel left out because you have other responsibilities - and that could make it harder to get roles or participate in some projects. You may have conflicts others won't understand - tests or projects or labs or group work that interferes with performance prep. Be prepared to struggle sometimes to find the right balance, but that in itself is an incredible life skill. You'll always be working to balance your priorities and make choices about the level of engagement you can manage. You'll work it out, just know that it'll happen.

You have the makings of just what this world needs more of - a girl in tech with the ability to motivate other girls to follow your path without sacrificing what they love or who they are! Make it happen!