Megan Anderson ’13
Megan Anderson ’13 considers herself a “jill of all trades” and is currently a project planner for Splice, where she handles the creation of workspaces for Amazon.
Read below as Anderson recounts her journey through and beyond Purchase.
These days, I am a project planner for a company called Splice that services Amazon’s corporate account. We handle furniture and office planning all across North America, liaising with their headquarters in Seattle while I work fully remotely on the East Coast. I handle logistics and coordination for their major push initiative of creating Agile Desk Sharing workspaces through all of their high headcount floors across the United States and Canada, thanks to all of my logistics training and scheduling experience from my years of working in the industry.
I’m able to read and execute deliverables based on CAD plans and make solid judgment calls based on deadlines and the customer’s needs as a direct result of my production management experience.
Fun fact: I got recommended for the job by another D/T alum.
The road to where I am today has certainly been a wild one, replete with rewarding twists and turns along the way. I always knew I wanted to do something in the live theater and events space, so I researched Purchase and quickly decided it was the place for me.
The program provided me with a work ethic and knowledge base that is unmatched. One of the greatest parts about Purchase is the connections I have made and people I have met in my years both in and out of school. I will be forever grateful for the experiences that I have had with my fellow students in the program that continue to shape my career today.
The Power of Internships
I started my decade-long journey just before graduation as an intern at Showman Fabricators. I worked with project management teams assisting on various projects in television and film as well as some Broadway shows. I also helped source some products for a large activation for Target, where we put a life-sized dollhouse in Grand Central Terminal.
Another valuable experience I had with Showman was working closely with their marketing director, researching ways that the company could expand its online and social media presence. I developed a great number of skills geared towards marketing and presenting myself and my work in an elevated way.
I ended up cutting my internship short halfway through the semester because I was offered my first full-time job as the production assistant for New York City Center’s production department prior to graduation. I spent countless hours there working on in-house productions, Encores! and the Fall For Dance Festival, as well as the rental seasons with Alvin Ailey, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty, and many others. I worked closely with the production manager and assistant production manager to purchase goods for our shows and the shop, and closely with Local 1 Stagehands. I even got to work on their payroll, learning the intricacies of the union contract.
From there, I stepped into a project management role with blackwalnut, a scenery fabrication studio in Valley Cottage, NY. I managed some amazing projects and learned a ton about different specialty fabrication techniques that would be viewed on high-definition cameras. I got my hands dirty once in a while in the paint shop and on the floor with the electrics department, helping with some installations around the United States.
Some notable projects were: NBC Sports Sunday Night Football, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, the Fox 2016 Presidential Debates, the NFL Draft, and a few smaller studios around the country. I got the chance to put a fake Shell gas station in Times Square for a marketing stunt featuring Carson Daly!
Next was my first contract with Production Glue, where I worked on some high-profile and confidential projects. I spent much time working on signage and coordinating graphics with various vendors and specialty goods.
After freelancing, I was hired by Bill Gorlin at McLaren Engineering, where I served as a liaison between the entertainment industry and the brilliant structural and mechanical engineers of the firm’s entertainment division. I learned much about engineering, calculation packages, high-wind action plans, and even flame-proofing and permitting events. I put together calculation packages for major concert tours and did a number of high-wind action plans and inspections for pop-up events around the city. I learned a great deal about amusement parks and their ride and safety standards and worked closely with some of the industry’s greatest technical minds to create better safety practices and standards for use in our field moving forward.
Back to School
While working at McLaren, I had the opportunity to work with Joe Egan ’94 (Design/Tech) on his productions at Nyack High School. For two years, I worked with the stage crew to build sets for their fall plays and spring musicals. I found this extremely rewarding as I could share my joy, passion, and experience for the art with the students. Watching high school kids use power tools for the first time MAY have taken some years off of my life, but I found it extremely fulfilling to see the kids find joy and pride in the work they had done. It was a remarkable experience to pass on my passion as a former and now real-life professional “stage crew kid.”
After McLaren, I returned to freelance work as an assistant production manager for a few off-Broadway shows, such as Gloria: A Life at the Daryl Roth, The Other Josh Cohen at the West Side Theater, Clueless the Musical and Daddy at the Signature Theater (Daddy featured a POOL on stage!), Mothers at Playwright’s Realm, and The Exes at Theater Row.
I then ventured back into live events. I started drafting with Production Glue for another freelance contract, and my main focus was serving as the assistant draftsperson for the Frieze Art Fair, the large temporary art fair hosted in Los Angeles and on New York City’s Randall’s Island. I learned a ton about Vectorworks software and drafting for a large-scale event while handling demanding art galleries and the challenges of producing a temporary art fair.
Shortly after, I received an offer directly from Frieze to work as their project coordinator/draftsperson. I had the opportunity to move to London in 2019, just as the COVID-19 pandemic enveloped the world. My London plans fell through, though I have continued to freelance with Frieze as an onsite contractor on their U.S. shows while holding other jobs. It’s rewarding to be continue working on a show that I enjoy so much.
Dropping the Ball
Perhaps what I’m most proud of—my claim to fame—is working on the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball drop for twelve years. It began when I was just a sophomore in the program. For the first five years, I served as a production assistant working with the overnight crew. I assisted with radio sign out, transferred goods to and from our storage space in the basement of 1 Times Square, and helped the stage hands and various crew with all overnight needs.
I was promoted to assistant production manager in charge of overnight operations for my final seven years. Every year, from December 26 through January 2, I led crews and managed all overnight operations and deliveries to get the show up and running—a rigorous and exhilarating timetable every time. It was a total blast and will always be one of my absolute favorite gigs.
Looking Back and Ahead
I’ve had a pretty good run so far and I’m excited to see what the future holds. Looking back, I knew as a freshman in high school that I wanted to pursue theater and live arts, and I followed that path. I followed my dreams, taking a big leap to get to Purchase and ending up where I am now: Happier than ever with my career and all the friends and great colleagues I have met along the way.
The support I have had from my former professors, my advisor, and the alumni network has changed my life in the best way. Our industry is not restricted to the typical events one might think of when it comes to design technology, as evidenced by my varied career and work history.
“Design Technology” is required across many fields, and highly prized and important in all. Although I no longer work directly in the industry, I utilized all of the skills I gained in school and the years that followed to land a job I enjoy, where I get to work from home and hang out with my cats.
10/10, would recommend. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.