Institutional Development Apprentice Alumna:
Katy Beth Cassell
Which Apprentice Class were you a part of?
What is your current job?
I currently work as the Development Manager for First Book, a nonprofit fighting for educational equality by providing access to books and educational resources.
What drew you to the Imagination Stage Apprentice Program?
I had been working as an actor/teacher/arts marketer in Greenville, South Carolina, and I knew I wanted to “take the next step” in a larger city. While I loved my marketing/public relations work, I knew I wanted to get my feet wet in fundraising. The Imagination Stage apprenticeship was the only one that I found that combined both marketing and development into Institutional Development. I love that Imagination Stage combined both professional theatre and arts education, and I immediately knew that it would be a great fit.
What was your favorite aspect of being an apprentice?
I loved the immediate “family” that I had. During my apprentice year, there were five other apprentices who were also working 55+ hours a week. Several of us moved to the D.C. area for the apprentice program, so it was nice to have instant friends and an instant support network. In general, ALL of the people at Imagination Stage welcomed me with open arms – they pushed me, they supported me, they encouraged me, and they picked me up when I tried something new and failed. Many of the colleagues I had during my apprentice year remain some of my closest friends and mentors.
What was the most exciting project you worked on as an apprentice?
I love to write, so tackling the Shubert Foundation grant opportunity was exciting (and looked great on my resume – this experience helped me land my first post-apprenticeship job!) I also loved coordinating a Whole Foods 5% Day. I planned the day from start to finish—from staffing to programming to social media marketing to press release writing, etc. It was a wonderful experience of planning a community fundraising event.
What was the most important lesson you learned as an apprentice?
The best lessons I learned were how to be an effective problem solver and how to collaborate. There were many times during the apprentice year where the apprentices were the only full time staff members on site – knowing how to take your knowledge and transform it into an effective solution for a problem that randomly popped up was a great skill to gain. I also learned how to collaborate – while I wanted to learn as much as I could during the apprenticeship, I learned that I couldn’t do everything on my own. I needed to rely on the skills of my colleagues – we all had different skills to bring to the table, and learning this so early in my career has proven invaluable.
What have you been up to since your apprenticeship ended?
I am now in my sixth year of working as a full-time fundraiser! I’ve worked at the Folger Shakespeare Library, University of Maryland, and Imagination Stage (yes, I returned to be the Development Manager for a while!) I currently work as the Development Manager for First Book, a nonprofit fighting for educational equality by providing access to books and educational resources. I love my job, and I’m so grateful that Imagination Stage helped me find my niche and helped me launch my career.
How did the apprenticeship help you get to where you are now?
I love my job, and I’m so grateful that Imagination Stage helped me find my niche and helped me launch my career. The work ethic I developed during my apprentice year is constantly noticed by my colleagues—in fact, several of them constantly say that they need to recruit more IStage apprentices.
Any advice to those applying?
Be willing to try something new! AND be willing to keep trying if you don’t get accepted the first time—I originally applied for the apprenticeship in 2009 as an Education apprentice candidate. I didn’t get a second interview. When I reapplied, I was chosen as the alternate for the Institutional Development apprenticeship. However, I believe all things happen for a reason, and I’m thankful to that person that turned down their offer so that I could become a member of the #IStageFamily!
Join us for Imagination Stage’s 2020-2021 Professional Apprenticeship Program! Application materials are due March 1, 2020.