“How would you like to move to Florida?”
Those were the words spoken to Lauren Harpst ’15 during a phone interview with Walt Disney World Resorts. Having already discussed the possibility of the move with her family and friends, she readily accepted a job offer as a Stage Technician with a specialty in audio engineering for the many shows on display at the Magic Kingdom Disney Theme Park.
“I also almost cried because in that moment I knew all of the blood, sweat, tears, bruises, hard work, and long nights had finally paid off. I never expected to get this kind of job right out of college,” she said.
The Pittsburgh, PA native recently graduated from Stevens with a degree in Music & Technology and a secondary concentration in Theater & Technology, both of which are housed within the Institute’s College of Arts and Letters.
“When I entered the Music & Technology major I immediately wanted to do sound for theater,” she said. “I saw the major as a road to getting into the professional theater circuit, but I didn’t have the skillset required for stage or production managing until my sophomore year.”
To gain experience, Harpst completed a variety of internships during her undergraduate career, most notably as an audio intern with Shakespeare in the Park, The Public Theater’s annual season of free plays at the Delacorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park. As an intern she helped to install all of the outdoor audio equipment before the performances.
“Each show had different things that were needed, so our team had to take out what was special from the last show and install what was needed for new shows. The productions do not have rain days, so as long as it was safe, we worked!” She remarked.
At Stevens, Harpst participated in a number of on campus activities including serving as a production manager for DeBaun Auditorium, interning with David Zimmerman, Stevens’ Executive Director of University Events and participating in Theta Alpha Phi, a national theatrical honor society. She also freelanced for various productions around New York City as a stage manager, production manager and audio engineer.
“I gained most of my experience through freelancing and interning, which helped me grow as a technician,” she commented. “Being thrown into shows really showed me that I wanted to do it professionally. These experiences better prepared me for the real world and gave me confidence to be able to work for any production.”
Harpst is only one of a few students who has completed both the Music & Technology and Theater & Technology sequence for her undergraduate degree. She believes the unique combination of artistic and technical throughout her courses at Stevens has perfectly prepared her for her position at Disney.
“My theater classes have helped me better understand how to interpret works and how much work each technical position must do in order to design a show. The music classes are what I turn to for design ideas. When you compose a new piece of music you are obviously creating something completely new and that’s what designers do everyday for their shows,” she said.
For now, Harpst is packing up her life in the northeast before driving down to Florida; she plans to visit the parks comprising Disney with her boyfriend for the first time before starting her position later this month.
“I am beyond excited to move down there,” she said. “I don't know what I would do without my boyfriend’s and my parents’ support in this moving process. I always loved taking adventures and this is just another long adventure for me. I cannot put into words how excited I am to start.”