Use Those Improv Skills To Join The Workforce

By The Second City | Jun 4, 2018

So, you’ve faked your way through college and are about to join what’s left of this country’s workforce.  

Congratulations! 

Having a job is a great way to minimize your free time for the next 45 years or so.  But don’t forget to bring the skills you learned in your various improv classes with you as you head into the workforce.  “What’s this?” you say. “My improv training can have practical applications in the real world?”

Of course not. 

But looking for your first real job isn’t quite the real world, so here goes…

Make strong initiations.

When you go out on interviews, be memorable–in a good way.  Dress nicely; don’t be afraid of bold colors. Be engaging. If you thought you were funny enough to take improv classes, then you’re funny enough to make a joke during an interview. Be nice. Make strong eye contact. Shake people’s hands (and don’t think about where those hands have been or how many dicks may have been in them). Just shake them. Don’t offer fist bumps.

Be in the scene you’re in, not the scene you want to be in.

Nobody starts out at the top. Be okay with starting at an entry-level position and learning all you can about the business. Also, you have some control over what scene you’re in. Don’t stay at a place you hate. Look for warning signs when you go on interviews: are people yelling or crying? Are people too happy and pleasant and dressed in an eerily similar way? Both are bad.

Say fucking “yes.”

People (presumably higher-ups) may ask you to do something or *if* you know how to do something. Just say YES to whatever it is, and figure out how to do it later. Fake your way through. Usually, you’ll figure it out. Worst case is you screw it up and someone shows you how they wanted it done. The important thing is the people who asked you to do something didn’t have to do it themselves. That makes you valuable.

Sometimes, you’re in the back line awkwardly snapping your fingers. 

You know those times when one or two people start to improvise a song? And the people in the back line painfully try to improvise group choreography to back them up? Stuff like that happens in the workplace, too. The point is, be supportive and go along with it.

Here are a few other improv-related tips for the working world:

  • You can now abandon your object work. 
  • Callbacks are less appreciated in an office setting. 
  • Don’t sleep with improv teachers; it’s for different reasons now, but this still applies.  

Once again, congratulations on your graduation (or abandonment of higher education). Now get to work.

Ed Furman is a Second City alumnus.

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