Ask most 20-somethings what they have on their iPod and you'll probably get responses ranging from Nicki Manaj to Bon Iver. For Anna Pitera, hers is loaded with Broadway musicals.
"Every time I turn on a show tune on my iPod, I sing at the top of my lungs," says the energetic Pitera, a 2011 Carlson School BSB graduate. "I think from the time I could talk I was singing; from the time I could walk I was dancing."
If her life had a soundtrack, she says, show tunes would play nonstop.
And in a way, they do.
Pitera is the marketing coordinator for Hennepin Theatre Trust, a Twin Cities performance powerhouse boasting four theaters in Minneapolis' Theater District.
Since starting at the nonprofit in July 2011, the self-described performer-at-heart has been using her business and marketing skills to promote Broadway shows that come to the Trust's theaters. She's been involved in or the primary marketer for such productions as La Cage aux Folles, Wicked, and the upcoming shows Green Day's American Idiot and Mama Mia!
"It's such a gift to be able to work with shows that are usually just in London and New York City and I get to work with them in the market that I know, the place where I grew up, the place where I came to see shows," Pitera says.
For the currently showing Disney's The Lion King, she was the primary marketer which entailed all of the media buys, promotions, and coordination of the artwork with Disney Theatrical Productions.
She's also the social media expert for the Trust, providing the "voice" on its Twitter account as well as its blog, the latter which she helped initiate along with the upcoming mobile site.
Advisor: Do what you love
Early in her sophomore year at the Carlson School, Pitera was at a crossroads. She had a passion for the arts, but she was studying business. She felt she had to pursue one over the other for a future profession.
For guidance, she turned to her advisor, Brooke Arnold, who posed to Pitera a simple yet thought provoking question: Why don't you just do what you love?
"The light bulb really went on," says Pitera. "I was able to see that I could do marketing, or what I was learning in business school, with the arts."
She wasted no time in her pursuit. She went to Hennepin Theatre Trust and volunteered for its street team, handing out promotional flyers and putting up posters. It was grunt work for sure, but it was also an "in" to an organization Pitera had long admired.
By spring semester her sophomore year, Pitera was offered a marketing internship at the Trust. After taking a hiatus in the fall of her junior year to study abroad in Milan, Italy (where she took all but one of her classes in Italian), she resumed her internship which later evolved into a part-time marketing associate position her senior year.
By graduation time, the full-time marketing coordinator position was hers for the taking.
"I come home every day and I talk to one of my parents and they say, How was work? My first response is I love my job," she says with a smile. "And to be able to say I love my job every day, even on the bad days, it's amazing."
To move up in her career, Pitera believes she'll have to move out of the Twin Cities someday to work in one of the theater hubs such as New York or London, and she looks forward to those opportunities. But that's in the future. For now, she's relishing the present.
"I would tell people to just not be scared of chasing after their dreams. Don't ever think that what you love you can't do for the rest of your life," she says. "Because I didn't think I would be able to do musical theater for the rest of my life and now I get to do it every day."