From situations that make you nervous to landing your big break, take away these three lessons from my incredible music internship experience.
Keep Your Cool and Don’t Forget to Breathe
Music interns tend to have some strong opinions about today’s stars, whether that means a steadfast admiration for everything Beyonce does or a vowed hatred of any one who ever used auto tune. Sometimes though these same stars are exactly the people music interns run into in the elevator.
It can be tough to resist the temptation to ask for an autograph, find an excuse to catch as many glimpses of the celebrity as possible. They will notice when you to run to the bathroom every five minutes to sneak another peek.
We know it can be exhilarating or even intimidating to run into the CEO of your favorite magazine or even the designer who you grew up admiring. Still, it’s important to try your best to maintain your composure and not let you inner fan get the best of you.
Simply take a deep breath and do your best to keep any conversations professional and concise. You are there to work, aren’t you? Should you feel you can’t really handle the situation, it’s best to excuse yourself or return to focusing on your work. We promise, you won’t live to regret it.
Make Getting in Contact Easy
When an up-and-coming musician or budding songwriter wants to get someone’s attention they usually have to send something called a demo. Short for demonstration, it’s usually a CD of 3-4 recordings that show off the musician’s work, similar to a design portfolio, and things like a press release, biography, photo, and other information about the artist often accompany it.
The trouble is that by the time these demos make their way from the mail room on to the desk of someone who is going to decide what moves on and what gets thrown out, these packages can look a little frazzled. One day, after reviewing a pile of demos I thought I had finally found an impressive one in the pile. The songwriting was catchy yet insightful, and the singer had a wonderful voice. However, at this point all that was left of the original package was just a burned CD in a blank case. The musician had taken the time to write his name and track listings on the CD but there was no website, phone number, or email address. In many cases that would probably be the end of the line, but I actually liked the music enough to look for him online.
Sadly, I never found him, but what is even worse is that something so simple as contact information was keeping him from consideration for some sort of career opportunity. These days, it may be rare that you actually submit any physical materials for consideration for a job or internship. Still, the principle applies online as well. No matter what resource or tool you use to try to find career opportunities, have your contact info handy. You just never know when someone will be interested in your work or how they will discover it, so be ready for them and make it easy for them to get in touch.
Give Love to Your Fans
We’re all familiar with the joke about thanking “all the little people.” You also probably know that similar lines tend to mention stepping on the same “little people” on your way to the top. In reality, those people that musicians thank as they accept their “Best New Artist” award are probably the ones who have crafted and planned the artist’s entire career. They are the people who help determine whether that musician will “make it” or not and use their relationships, skills, and experience to turn that musician’s next project into a success.
Networking is no exception in the creative industry. So, be sure to be polite, appreciative, and friendly to everyone you meet on your path to the corner office. There may be days you feel frustrated and would love nothing more than to tell your boss or that rude receptionist at the interview what you really think, but in the end it isn’t worth it.
Instead, give and share the love.
What epic advice do you have from your internship experiences? Give us a shout in the comments, especially if you work in music!
Get more advice and find out about interning in film.