I have never harbored dreams of making it into the company of a prestigious ballet company while moonlighting as a welder and exotic dancer. Nor would you ever find me dancing on top of a taxi cab holding up traffic on 44th Street in New York City. All I knew is that I needed to be part of a high-stakes creative environment.
I went to an undergraduate program for film, but a fateful walk around the East Village after having moved to New York City after graduation changed the trajectory of my career. I walked into The Public Theater, a landmarked building, merely to appreciate the structure. The building was originally the home of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and later turned into the Astor Library before Joseph Papp convinced the city to let him buy the building to use as a theater. I saw a sign in the lobby advertising internships. I left my resume and having no theatre experience whatsoever, never expected to step foot in the building again.
The next day I got a call and was interviewed and within a week was an intern in the marketing department of one of the most prestigious and acclaimed nonprofit theatres in the country. I spent two years getting promoted twice before getting laid off due to budgetary constraints.
I went back to school for theatre management and to learn the business from the ground up. Subsequently, I was incredibly fortunate to have worked with and learned from some of the greatest professionals and mentors on and off-Broadway. I have been behind the scenes of groundbreaking shows, and have witnessed insanely talented and brilliant people conceive of and develop ideas that have since delighted audiences around the world. It was nothing short of magical.
I took time off to raise kids and I was extremely fortunate to be able to be with them, though I missed having a creative outlet. I did land a job as a Marketing Director of a local NJ theatre. But once my youngest daughter went to school full-time, I was ready to move on and realized I did not want to continue to pursue a career in traditional marketing. I wanted to find another way to add value.
I had always been interested in technology and started to take some online classes to learn basic HTML and CSS. I saw an ad on Facebook for a contest for a scholarship to Udacity for a Nanodegree in Front End Web Development. The contest lasted about two months and the finalists would be selected for the first cohort of a new Grow with Google program. I made it into the cohort and finished six months later with several projects for my portfolio.
I thought I would continue on the developer path and applied to a full stack bootcamp. I already had a couple of projects under my belt and in February 2020, I had a meeting directing me toward a new career in technology for theatre once I finished the bootcamp. I was so excited to finally be on this new path after many years of hard work. Three weeks later, the world shut down and the theatre was decimated for nearly two years.
Once I had time to reflect, I realized that life as a software developer was not for me. I acknowledged that I was burnt out from the bootcamp and it was nearly impossible to be productive with everyone home quarantined for the year. I had to give myself permission to quit and realize that something else was out there for me.
My north star has always been to be part of a creative field because of the variety and excitement of the work. I did find that I was drawn to the area of product management – what I perceived as the perfect intersection of technology and delighting audiences with many different facets of the live entertainment experience or ticket-buying journey. I continued to learn and develop new skills that would hopefully land me a product management role, and the fact that I understood some of the technical aspects helped.
After the theatrical industry started to come back following the pandemic, I found a job listing for Product Manager for a brand new company, Third Act Digital, a platform for NFTs for theatre. The founder appreciated my domain knowledge in commercial theatre and I became part of the team in February 2022. It was a dream job: completely remote which allowed me the flexibility of carpooling kids, normal working hours, and no weekend work, an anomaly in the theatre. Unfortunately, due to the downturn in crypto over the last year, especially the recent news of FTX and Binance crashing, it is a tenuous situation.
I have been spending my downtime wisely. I just finished a course in SEO and was recently certified in Google Analytics 4. While I still don’t want to be a developer, I am refreshing my SQL and Excel skills and learning Python and Tableau. These are great skills to have in my pocket whether I land another PM role or if I decide to pivot toward data analytics.
- Network and attend conferences. Even when I was taking time off to raise kids, I kept up with my industry and grad school network and attended conferences to network in person.
- I used LinkedIn to continue to make new contacts and even got my current role through LinkedIn. I saw that the founder had viewed my profile and I sent a note to ask for a meeting. The answer to every question not asked is no.
- I am a lifelong learner. I learn not just to get a job but because I love it and I am passionately curious. I have always been an avid reader and a research geek.
After so many years I can’t imagine my life any other way. I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have had. I was lucky to find my passion in life early and dedicated my life to the visual and performing arts.