LiNK is presented in partnership by SETC and USITT

A master’s degree was always in the cards for scenic designer Kate Cardinalli. “I was taught that anytime someone is willing to teach you something, take advantage of it,” Kate said. “That just stuck with me.”

With her portfolio in hand, resumes hot off the printer, and her fingers crossed, Kate grabbed a friend and headed to LiNK in Atlanta with few expectations and an open mind. “I just wanted to talk to as many programs as I could and see if any of them matched what I was looking for.”

A three-day event that connects graduate school recruiters with master’s candidates hoping to further their education, LiNK operates as a well-oiled machine fostering connections between educators and prospective students seeking degrees. Throughout the weekend, interviews are held, connections are made, and business cards are treated like gold.

Recruiters at the networking event are on the lookout for candidates searching for degrees in Acting, Arts Management, Costume Design, Directing, Lighting Design, Make-up and Wig Design, Production Management, Scene Design, Sound Design, Stage Management, Technical Direction, and more.

Highly sought-after programs return year after year to find the next round of talented potential students. Notable past-participants included Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre, California Institute of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University, Ohio State University, Texas State University, University of Florida School of Theatre and Dance, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Texas – Austin, Virginia Tech, and Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre.

All candidates follow the same schedule; a speed-dating-esque routine keeps things flowing while allowing candidates and recruiters enough time to exchange a vibrant dialogue. Prospective students spend their time interviewing and marketing themselves in a myriad of ways.

“They did a great job explaining what to expect with the venue and the resources available to you to set up your station,” Kate said.

They are encouraged to show off their work in the most visual way possible. This includes portfolios, poster boards, sound recordings, scale models, tailor’s dummies clad in costumer’s best designs, and, of course, their resumes.

“I think my list had 32 schools sign up to meet me,” Kate recalled. “Once the first interview was over, it was fine; you get into a rhythm and just go with it.”

After a lot of online searching, this process opened a new world of possibilities for Kate displaying a list of schools she hadn’t previously considered.

Kate met with recruiters, weighed her options, and said her goodbyes as the weekend wound down. The days following were crucial. She began her thank you emails to those she spoke with. One school had made a home for itself in her heart: Purdue University, which had earned a spot on Kate’s list for a campus tour.

“LiNK is the only reason I ended up at Purdue,” Kate recalled. Known for its agriculture, engineering, and business programs, Purdue hadn’t originally been on her radar. After meeting with Purdue’s representative, Michael McNamara, that changed.

“He spoke with such enthusiasm for the program and how passionate the scenic design professor, Rusty Jones, was about design and his students,” Kate said.

For Kate and hundreds of past LiNK candidates, the event serves as a springboard for those who have reached an impasse with online research, those who prefer face-to-face interaction, and even those who just want practice interviewing.

“I had interviews with every single faculty member on the Purdue Theatre staff the first day I arrived for the campus visit,” Kate said. “After LiNK, having 12 interviews in one day was less daunting than 15-plus a day.”

Everything seemed to fall into place. Kate received an offer from Purdue and eagerly accepted.

Kate stressed that going in knowing what you need from a school to be successful will help you narrow down your options and feel less overwhelmed when meeting countless schools over three days.

“LiNK is a great way to talk to a lot of different programs all at once rather than having to travel to each one or contact each one individually,” Kate said. “It forces you to be open minded about all the programs available.”

She encourages future participants to take notes, ask for business cards, bring a water bottle, and put aside some money prior to going. “The turnaround time after going to an event like LiNK and applying to the programs, going to interviews, and the campus visits is short. Application fees and travel add up quickly.”

LiNK 2018 will take place in Atlanta at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Atlanta-Airport, Nov. 9-11. LiNK is looking for candidates willing to meet with many institutions over a three-day period of networking and fun.

LiNK is also on the lookout for Institutions. If your institution houses a degree program in technical theatre or similar discipline, apply to expand your networking reach and get in front of the nation’s potential graduate students.

Candidates register, here.

Recruiters/Institutions register, here.