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The College of Arts Sciences

Dana M. Lerner '14: "Use your resources and find a mentor."

By: Marina Watts,  Department of Performing and Media Arts
April 3, 2017

Dana M. Lerner ‘14 grew up in Princeton, New Jersey. She was very involved during her time at Cornell University, inside the Department of Performing and Media Arts and out. She participated in her sorority, the women’s club hockey team, and Cornell Hillel.

Lerner did everything she could to get the most out of her time at Cornell. Despite being a theatre major, she wasn’t starring in every show. “And that’s okay,” she says, “because now my network is larger than staying within the department.” There are always ways you can get involved in anything you’re interested in, whether it’s joining a club or creating your own. By doing a little bit of everything, you’ll meet more people and grow your network.

She encourages students to take classes outside of their major, as it can tie together other concepts to your major. Lerner believes that anything is applicable to theatre, media, and film, as long as you can present everything you know in a way that makes you a more valuable job candidate. You learn how to talk to other theatre people, such as designers or directors, and beyond that as well. Everything is relevant and can connect in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

Interacting with people also benefitted Lerner, as did being able to take a wide range of classes. A broad liberal arts education with a focus in theatre made her feel well-rounded. She learned how to write and think critically all within the context of theatre and history of theatre, and collaborate with people, which are all skills she still uses today.

She got her first job out of college with a little help from her professor J. Ellen Gainor. She was used her connections to get an internship, and learned how to network well. From that point on, she got each job solely through networking. “Having the Cornell brand on your resume speaks volumes,” she says.

Her advice to Cornell students? Network. A lot. “Reach out to professors and alumni willing to send emails and meet for coffee,” says Lerner. “It’s incredibly important to use your resources and find a mentor. It’s all about who you know, and that’s how you get jobs. Cornellians are very willing to help each other out.”

She now works in New York as the business intelligence coordinator for Broadway Across America, the foremost presenter of first-class touring musicals and plays in North America, operating in 40 markets. As a leading Broadway producer, BAA is dedicated to the development and production of new and diverse theatre. Lerner recently made her Broadway co-producing debut with Paula Vogel's (MA '76, PhD '16) Indecent

Marina Watts '16 is a temporary writer for the Department of Performing and Media Arts.

Dana M. Lerner '14