Remember me? I’m Jessica, the Career Changer, telling you the story of my wavy career path. Before the winter break, I wrote about working at a pretty fancy New York City restaurant. I was let go from that particular restaurant because of new management, and I soon got a job at a café as a hostess. I worked until May of 2004 at this café, which was a stressful, busy Austrian dessert and gourmet coffee café on the Upper East Side. But then I got an amazing job offer. I was offered, along with my boyfriend at the time (who is now my husband, by the way), an acting job in a small mountain town in Colorado. I was going to work as an actor at the Creede Repertory Theatre for the summer.
The Creede Repertory Theatre is a small professional theatre situated at 9,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The town is set into a canyon with calendar worthy views in every direction, and the county is made up of 95% public lands, making wilderness and all outdoor recreation easily accessible. The theatre itself has a pretty incredible story, emerging out of a silver mining town through the hard work of 12 students from the University of Kansas and the local Jaycee organization. Each summer, the CRT produces 5 to 8 different shows that run in rotating repertory, meaning a different show each night. This strategy came about because of the tourist nature of the location; so a family visiting for a week would be able to attend the theatre multiple times to see different plays. In my first summer there, I performed in a musical called The Spitfire Grill, the Noel Coward comedy Hay Fever, and an original children’s theatre production about the life of Georgia O’Keefe. I arrived in early May, performed in Creede through mid- September, and then took the children’s show out on a tour of the Southwest through New Mexico and Arizona, as well as Colorado.
Each night, we would perform, quickly get out of costume, and hop back onstage to take down the set so that we could get ready for the next night’s show. We finished working at midnight or 1 am, continued on to get a drink or some food at the local pub, and fell into bed. The next day we would get up, go for a hike or have a rehearsal, and in the evening, do it all over again.
Even though we weren’t paid a huge amount, we were given housing and the mountains for our backyard. We worked hard, but we played hard as well. And it was one of those work experiences that really changed the course of my life. My experience at the CRT really showed me what I value: working with people, nature, the arts, fun, compassion for others and for the world, and also, a challenge. I like it when my work is challenging, when it doesn’t come easy, when I need to learn and grow in order to do it well. I will talk about what happened at the end of this tour in the next episode of “Confessions of a Career Changer.”
Jessica Baron is currently a Graduate Assistant in Career Services at OSU and a full time student in the College Student Services Administration Program. Before making her way to Oregon State, Jessica worked as an actor, waiter, online tutor, receptionist, college composition instructor, creative writer, gas station attendant, nonprofit program director, writing workshop leader, high school drama coach, Hallmark card straightener, substitute teacher, real estate office manager, and SAT tutor, not necessarily in that order. Her “Confessions of a Career Changer” will focus on her wavy career path and the challenges and joys of wanting to do everything.