The Self-Starting Generation

In this day and age, we often need more than just a college degree. We need years of experience in a job we haven't even gotten yet. The job market is not just competitive but an all-out war to see who can butter up their resumé more to get the job. It's a subject that the entertainment industry seemed to be ignoring, but is now growing in popularity in movies, television and in Chicago, the theater.

“Self Starters” is a new musical to hit the streets of Chicago. This musical has great comedic attributes while also talking–and singing–about something that is so real today: the harsh reality of possibly never getting a job in a career that goes with your degree. It also just so happens to star one of North Park's own: Jonathan Love. He was one of the play's producers as well. I caught up with Jonathan to talk a bit about the play.

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Hannah Thomas: What attracted you to this project so much that you became apart of it?

Jonathan Love: I was actually kind of pulled into it. I met Gretchen (one of the producers) through the improv scene here in Chicago. She told me that her and some of her friends had been working on a musical. That is how I met Danny and Andi (the other two producers). They needed someone to play the role of "John." I remember being absolutely enamored with the opening number, from that point on I was hooked.

H: What is your favorite memory from being a part of this project?

J: One particularly challenging process was making rewrites after we premiered the show in June. We took each scene and would play them out, eventually straying from the script and improvising as our characters, with certain goals in mind as far as what to explore. It led us to a lot of laughter and some pretty sweet new material.

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H: What is the biggest thing you've learned while being a part of this project?

J: We first got together to work on this project about three years ago. Three years. We actually tried launching this show twice before we did it in June. Both times we all got so busy with school and work and other projects that we didn't have the time to actually make any headway. Danny, Andi, and Gretchen are some of the most creative and driven people I know. They never once let these hiccups stop them from trying again. They never let this idea slip from their minds. It finally paid off when we were able to enter MCL's Premier Premieres festival for original musicals. All of a sudden we had a deadline. It was happening. After the response we got in June, we were able to ride that momentum into securing a run now. All because we didn't stop believing in what we had created.

H: How do you believe this play can relate to college students and fresh-out-of-college students today?

J: The job market is a lot harder to break into than it used to be. A lot of college graduates are moving back home and working any job they can get until they "start their career." I am not at all knocking the value of a liberal arts education. I certainly wouldn't be in school if I didn't think education was valuable. I think the ideas behind careers and vocations are changing, and a lot of young people are finding fulfillment doing what they want instead of doing what society expects them to do.

HT: This musical has a great scene where two of the characters are talking about getting real jobs with their degrees, but because of the experience the job requires, it's nearly impossible to have all the qualifications for that job. Some people have stooped to the level of lying on their resumés, like the clever men in this musical. Also, some people get a job that pays well, but it has nothing to do with their degree and they hate it. The only reason they stay at the job is to make ends meet and to live the lifestyle they choose.

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At the end of the musical they talk about becoming your own “self starter” as in starting your own business or finding how to make money while doing something you love. So, to fellow college students and recent graduates, don't give up looking for the right fit for you, whether it's for a degree or job. If you’ve tried the interview and resumé thing and haven’t found the right fit for you, make your own. Find people that love what you love and build a startup. Jonathan and his fellow producers received several no’s before they got their chance to put on their production. If someone tells you no,  just find a different way to fulfill your dream. 

By Hannah Thomas