I got the theatre 'bug' early and was in magnet/performing arts schools from 5th-12th grade. In my HS years, we attended large audition conferences both for professional gigs and college entry. Be sure to explore the resources and opportunities through your school and community. There are many strong programs and schools to grow your skills, but be diligent in selecting them. I attended Wright State University's Musical Theatre and it was an excellent program (Tom Hanks Alumni). If you're seeking to make a profession in the arts, not only do you need the arts-centered curriculum but as an entrepreneur/self-employed professional, you need to nourish your business acumen & audition muscles as well!
I moved to NYC 4 months after 9/11 and was thankful to have both my professional theatre and college experiences to prepare me. The network of more seasoned professionals was incredible as well...building relationships is key. I grew my resume in the non-Equity space on national tours and regional gigs, before earning my Actors Equity Union card and working professionally based out of NYC for 10 years. Having a strategic plan and passionate commitment is critical. Then, you can be open to opportunities as they come, for learning and stretch growth!
Google searches for audition tips may help as well (from reputable publications https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/tips-winning-audition-52162/). - Network with your College Professors. They should be from the business, or still active in the acting community, and they'll know other professionals in the space. As they nurture your education, they should also be able to guide you to coffee chats with working actors in NY, Chicago, FL or wherever your long-term vision lies. Ask them about audition opportunities/resources in the local theatres they may be aware of; or if you're heading out post-grad, see if they have guidance to a solid tax professional for you as a self-employed individual; research & explore audition events (like Backstage https://www.backstage.com/casting/open-casting-calls/theater-auditions/).
- Work hard and learn as much as you can. Craft a strong resume; align a good headshot photographer for professional photos. Take continued classes from reputable industry professionals; explore the intro program (called EMC) to pursue a long-term goal of becoming union AEA (https://www.actorsequity.org/)
- Keep an open mind. If you have multiple skills and interest for the stage, screen, design, backstage, production elements etc, be open to learning and seeing opportunities that may be a fit!