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Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program

  • Fred Foster student mentorship

    Lighting the way toward a bright future

    Fred Foster student mentorship

    Lighting the way toward a bright future



    ETC was founded by a group of college students and has grown into a global leader in lighting and rigging technology. Throughout his career, ETC Founder and CEO Fred Foster recognized the significance of mentorship in any lighting professional’s career. Yet, he understood how challenging it is to establish connections with potential mentors.

    The Fred Foster Student Mentorship Program aims to encourage young talent, the future of the industry, by introducing them to mentors who will help elevate their careers. Since 1999, this program has given students an experience they can’t get anywhere else through networking opportunities that introduce them to established lighting professionals. This program is just one way that Fred’s legacy lives on.


    Connecting students with the industry’s brightest professionals

    In years past, ETC has hosted an introductory event between students and lighting professionals at the LDI tradeshow. Due to the global pandemic, ETC adapted program events to a virtual format in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021.

    The program will kick off in early fall with an online social event that introduces students to prospective mentors in a large group setting. In the following weeks, students will attend smaller breakout discussions with lighting professionals to get to know them and their career paths. Once our team of program sponsors is better acquainted with students’ areas of interest, we will match each student with a lighting professional who will act as their mentor for the following year.


    Match up with a mentor

    Some of the biggest names in the industry volunteer to be a mentor to selected students. Each mentor is paired with a student to provide support, advice, and encouragement for at least a year after the ETC-hosted events. They help prepare the sponsorship recipients for their future careers and guide them into the working world.


    Who can apply?

    • Graduate students working toward a master’s degree or PhD
    • Students in their final year of undergraduate courses at the university level during the fall semester
    • Students from outside of North America who are pursuing a university degree in lighting design, theatre technology or a related field

    *Please note that ETC does not provide translators, so applicants must have a high command of both written and spoken English. Virtual events will be conducted in US time zones.


    Applications are now open for the 2021 program.

    Submit your application by April 16, 2021 here


    Words from past recipients


    "Because of this program, I’ve been able to have one-on-one conversations with people I could never have dreamed of meeting before; let alone speaking to them about our love of lighting! It’s led to interviews, virtual 'coffee chats,' and connections across the lighting industry that I am very thankful for."
    - Mitchell Jakubka

    "I can say confidently that the mentorship experience was and is essential in my post-graduate life. I have made countless connections and have received generous help from my mentors in terms of portfolios, resumes, and career advice."
    - Aria Sivick

    "The individual mentorship program has already made a big impact in my life and career. Having a mentor that can advise, listen, and help support me in the first few years of my career is an opportunity that few students will get."
    - Ben J. Golden

    "It really exposed me to a world that I could only have dreamed of and made me feel that there are real tangible career opportunities in the future that would not result in me giving up my art. I cannot express how much that means to me. I was exposed to some incredible people and now have several invites to New York, London, and LA."
    - Ronan O'Shea

    "ETC is never shy about promoting young designers, and the events they arranged proved to be very valuable opportunities for me to gain exposure in the lighting world. It is apparent that ETC takes great pride in giving next generation of lighting professionals a healthy start."
    - Nick Diaz

    "Not only did I get to meet people whose books I’ve read and referred to countless times, I actually got to speak to them about what to do next. My eyes were opened to the huge number of possibilities available for a lighting designer."
    - Porsche McGovern