During my junior year of college, I applied for an acting internship at Florida Studio Theatre. After a successful interview, I learned that the theater did not offer a summer acting program. Instead, I was offered a stage management internship. Although I had absolutely no previous experience in stage managing, I confidently informed the intern coordinator that I had a vast appreciation of the occupation, and I leapt at the offer.
I moved to the Florida Gulf Coast that summer and started my stage management internship... without a single article of black clothing.
After a whirlwind tutorial by my new supervisor and a couple of trips to the thrift shop for proper clothes, I was ready to assistant stage manage. The next couple of months provided me with my very first insight into professional theater, and I learned more during that internship than I did in my first three years of college.
I met amazing actors, designers, and directors, many of whom I still keep in touch with more than ten years later. I was also invited back after graduation, and I remained employed at Florida Studio Theatre for four wonderful years, working in their education department as a Resident Actor and Teaching Artist.
My first few professional years after college were defined by that terrific internship, and I cannot fathom where I would be without it.
So intern. Find an awesome theatre company and contact them. There are plenty of internships that offer housing and a stipend; some don’t offer anything at all. Regardless, don’t pay for a program out of pocket. Simply start searching online and find a program that feels right. Go for it.