Rachel Vogeney '15

Rachel VogeneyMajor: Dance Performance & Secondary Math Education
Hometown: Des Plaines, IL

Describe your current job role:

I currently am dancing for two professional contemporary and modern dance companies in Chicago. I also have choreographed for companies in Chicago and do frequent freelance dance gigs such as dancing for the American Beauty Show. During the week I am rehearsing and training. Each company performs in formal dance concerts, festivals, and other community events throughout Chicago as well as tours across the country. I typically am working on two or more shows, with performances every month. Along with dancing myself, I am a Recital Coordinator and dance instructor for a local Park District. I teach ballet, contemporary, jazz, and hip hop to all ages, preschool through adult levels.

As one who likes to do multiple things, I am also a Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. Teaching anywhere from 15-20 group classes a week including HIIT, weight training, Spin, Kickboxing, TRX, Pilates and more. I also work with clients one-on-one in the gym as well as in their homes.

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

Prior to my current job, I worked at PBA. While still in school, I was a Steering Committee Co-Director, Refresh Event Coordinator, and coached the Sailfish Spirit Squads Dance Team. From these experiences, I learned a lot about time management and how to work and coordinate with people. While at PBA, I also had the opportunity to student teach at Palm Beach Gardens High School as a Math teacher, teaching geometry and probability and statistics. Through that role, I gained experience connecting with students and developing classroom management skills that I am now using daily.

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

After graduating, I knew it would be a difficult road trying to reach my dreams, but I wasn’t quite sure of its emotional stress. While I could have chosen to go the route of becoming a high school teacher, I decided to try to find my way as a dancer. I had to go to dozens - possibly close to a hundred or more auditions - trying to get my face to as many classes and auditions throughout Chicago as well as other cities. I quickly realized that it was going to take time, and that I might need to find ways other than auditioning to find an “in”. I was doing all that with the assumption that I would eventually make it. Each rejection amplified my self-doubt. Being in a highly competitive field, it was extremely likely I would quit before finding my place in the dance community. I wish I would have known that it would take a lot of patience and to not get discouraged along the way.

I also wish I would have been more aware of the darkness of the world that would quickly permeate my surroundings after graduating. Both the dance and fitness industries are very self-motivated and dark places. It was an eye-opening experience going from such a Christ focused community to something so opposite. It was as if I had to re-establish my relationship with Christ in a whole new setting.

"Know your limits and balance your work and social life."

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

I frequently use my event planning and social networking skills that I established while at PBA through my various positions on campus. My involvement on campus as a Steering Committee member, Dance Team coach, and Refresh event coordinator gave me interpersonal communication, teamwork, and leadership skills that have benefitted my career. I have been recognized as a leader in both communities and have been able to advance because of it.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

Balance is key! (and something I am still learning) Know your limits and balance your work and social life. Although taking advantage of small opportunities can be beneficial, allow yourself to say NO to opportunities. Someone once told me that saying yes to something is saying no to something else, possibly saying no to yourself and self-care.

Allow yourself to be intentional in new environments and develop new friendships. Everyone around you can be used as a resource whether for your personal growth or growth in your job.

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you? 

I wouldn’t say I necessarily have someone that has mentored me in my field(s) but I do have a strong community in both the dance and fitness fields that have supported and given me advice along the way. Many people have influenced me to strive for more and not limit myself.

Spotlight posted in May 2018.