Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Career Advice for Teens: Isaac Mizrahi to the New Vic Ushers

The New Vic Usher Corps is a 3-year program that employs over 50 High School and College students each season. In addition to their Front of House duties, New Vic Ushers attend job training workshops and career/life skills seminars designed to build public speaking, problem solving, leadership and teamwork skills. This is a highly structured program that endows them with the skills, confidence and experience to succeed in today's professional marketplace.

My name is Mikyla McLawrence and I'm a second year usher in The New Victory Usher Corps at The New Victory Theater. I would like to tell you how amazing my job is and the extraordinary events that take place there. I began this journey in August 2009. I walked into Boricua College on a beautiful summer day and told the recruiter I was looking for a job; he emailed me a list of jobs. Immediately I saw the word THEATER jump off the page. When I got home that evening I went to the website of The New Victory Theater.

Mikyla, far left, in an usher workshop
Photo: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
I wanted to be a part of this company and being involved in making a family happy everyday would also have a positive impact on my life. I was ready to take up the usher challenge: Usher Corps here I come. I knew I would be comfortable there so I prepared my résumé and included a short statement to Ms. Anna Rivera who is the Senior Associate House Manager. I explained to her that I was the right person for this job and how dedicated I would be. I also told her briefly about my passion for theater and I would not let this opportunity pass me by. I got called for a group interview. The group interview was FUN, so when I got called back for the second interview I went in with a smile and confidence. I started on August 23, 2009 and there I met all my peers who I would have to work with as a team everyday at The New Victory Theater. I wore my favorite pink bows in my hair for the occasion.

A valuable thing The New Victory Usher Corps offers to the young men and women of tomorrow are workshops. Career panels, also known as "Milk and Cookie Days," are my favorite workshops because we get to meet, listen and ask questions to lawyers, doctors, teachers, retailers, pharmacists, and many more people in society that are making a difference in so many various ways (and we get to enjoy home baked cookies and milk, how fortunate for us!). Our last career panel was in April and we went to designer Isaac Mizrahi’s NY studio. Excited for another splendid career day I fussed all night and was too excited to sleep: I typed “Isaac Mizrahi Day” in my status on Facebook. Although all the career panels are helpful and interesting this career panel was one I especially had been anticipating. A group of the ushers would meet Isaac Mizrahi, listen to his story and understand the path he took to becoming one of the greatest designers and brands around the world. As our group walked to Isaac's studio from The New Victory my heart raced because I just knew that I was finally going to speak face to face with someone that actually interests me.

The ushers at Isaac's New York Studio
I stepped into the elevator and my legs wouldn’t stay still and my cheeks began to cramp because I was smiling so much. As the elevator doors opened, the words Isaac Mizrahi in bold black huge letters went across a white opening wall; fashion magazines lay on the table of the waiting area while a wide screen television played the latest Isaac Mizrahi runway show. We all sat in a living room area where chairs were placed in front a white couch. My Front of House Manager, Mr. Anthony Pound sat next to Isaac, and I took a seat in the front row. As he sat down I noticed his blue or green glitter nail polish which made me smile because that showed that he was comfortable and a very unique individual. We began the conversation by introducing ourselves including our year at The New Victory. He mentioned how excited and pleased he was to meet with us.

I was in shock as Isaac began telling us about his journey, starting from being a child. He told us about a school project where he had to interview someone he admired. He picked a famous actress, so he waited by the stage door and ended up interviewing her and the Broadway producer. Isaac told us to do what makes us happy and no matter how tough the road gets, stick to your gut feeling that you are going to be successful. Talking to Isaac felt like talking to a mentor. He refused to give us advice; that was the most surprising thing about Isaac that brought me in even closer. He didn't want to give us advice because he believes that anything can be possible and there isn't a right way to do anything; opportunities can come from anywhere and as long as you're aiming for something no one can tell you what to do or how to do it. I silently said to myself that one day I will be at a career panel telling other New Victory Ushers about my journey to being a successful theater costume designer.

Fiona Howe Rudin, New 42 board member,
with friend Isaac Mizrahi
As the time to close the meeting drew near I realized I was too stunned to ask a question, but I wasn't disappointed because I got all the motivation and advice so I could be on my way and start my plan. We all said goodbye to the funny Mr. Isaac Mizrahi and we thanked him for taking time out his busy schedule to meet with us. Fashion is my favorite art and I’m thankful to take part in anything fashion. I had a great time and it was a day I will never forget.

The New Victory staff helped me realize that I need to do something in my life that makes me happy and fashion hits the right spot every time. I know it isn't going to be an easy road but as Phil Clark, the director of Skellig, told us in a front of house meeting, we are the future and are extraordinary individuals doing extraordinary things and as we grow we are teaching the older generation something special. I have one more year to go to enjoy this place and learn new things. I love my job.

The New Victory Usher Corps is hiring for the 2011-2012 season. Application deadline is August 8th, 2011.

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