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Cena Chovanec, Intern for the Pittsburgh Public Theater

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Pictured is SAEM student Cena Chovanec.

Background and area of interest:

I grew up engrossed in theater; I was in every musical, play, theater camp, show choir and concert choir I could get my hands on. I loved it. Going into my senior year of high school, I quickly realized that although I had a passion for theater, I wanted a reliable career. This led me to Point Park’s SAEM program. I wanted to get into the business side of the theater world.

How did you land an internship with the Pittsburgh Public Theater?

During my first semester, I was required to do 20 hours of shadowing in a career I might be interested in. I knew I wanted to shadow someone in the theater field, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I asked my professor, Teresa Gregory, for some help. She knows many people holding different positions in the Cultural District in Downtown Pittsburgh, so she gave me a few people to contact.  I contacted a woman named Maureen Keane, who is the development executive assistant at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. She asked for my resume, and we scheduled an interview. My interview was held not only with Maureen but with the rest of the development team.  They asked about my experiences in theater and what I planned on doing while studying at Point Park. At the end of the interview, they asked if I was looking just to shadow for the 20 hours or if I would like to intern there for the rest of the year. Obviously, I took the latter! I was thrilled to be starting out with first-hand experience only two short months into my freshman year of college!

What were your key responsibilities at this internship?

I have been at the Pittsburgh Public Theater for just over a year now. I handle many of the large mailings that are sent to various groups of audience members such as season ticket holders, board members and VIP members. I use Tessitura, the theater ticketing software, to keep track of and update records, as well as create lists for specific mailings. I help plan and set up for many events the theater holds for its high donors and VIP members. I also help with the preparation of various grant applications. The work I am involved with is very vital to the theater and much depends on how well it is done. It is very gratifying to know that they trust me with such important jobs.

What lessons have you learned so far?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this internship thus far is the importance of customer satisfaction. The Public Theater would be nowhere near what it is today without the money contributed from its donors, sponsors and friends. Ticket sales only cover 44 percent of what it takes to run quality performances, so donations and sponsorship help out tremendously. And without the generous donations, The Pittsburgh Public Theater simply would not have the funds. Many times you have to bend far to make a customer happy, but in the end, it is always worth the time and effort.

What are your future career goals?

As ironic as this sounds, interning at the Public Theater has made me realize one extremely important thing - I do not want to work in arts management. While I love the team I work for, I simply cannot sit behind a desk every day for the rest of my career. It has also helped me figure out what I want to do – special event planning. Helping with the events, receptions and cocktail parties has been my favorite part of the internship.  Although it is very stressful, I feel that the qualities I possess better fit that atmosphere. I am very organized, comfortable with people and good at planning. I have worked on the Campus Activities Board at Point Park, and I love it. At this point, I want to make a career out of it - but I never would have figured it out without first interning at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. I owe them everything. I am going to finish out the year there, but I hope to intern with an event planning program this summer to gain experience and make sure that is what I’d like to do for the rest of my life.

More internship and career highlights from SAEM students and alumni:

Megan Beavis
Nick Ceraso
Trenten Derryberry
Amelia Johnston
Bryanna Kiselauskas
Max Kovalchuk
Bret Kunash
Jeff Morgan
Amy Schlierf
Nicole Townsend
April Weber

Read what students think. Can you get a job in this field?  You bet!