Archive for the ‘Internships’ Category

In the past 15 years internships have gone from a great opportunity to rise above the rest, to a requirement to even be considered for an interview (and then face rejection in favor of someone with more internships.) Although internships as we know them have been around for a while, there has been a clear shift in their purpose and benefit. In fact, people are getting fed up and have begun fighting back against big companies, including Warner Music Group.

According to Forbes, there are the six legal requirements for a position to be considered an internship:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If these guidelines were followed by every company offering internships, there wouldn’t be a problem. But that’s rarely the case in the entertainment industry. Here are ways companies are screwing over their interns…and anyone new to the workforce.

1. Hiring Interns To Do Unpaid Labor

Companies abuse this power in many forms. The most common is setting their interns up to do infinite data entry, which provides little to no value to an eager college student. More than that, though, it causes them to become bored and disengaged (as it would most anybody,) which is exactly the opposite of what these “learning opportunities” should be doing.

Another, less common but still prevalent, abuse is using their interns for various janitorial or maintenance duties. This is more likely to occur when a business’s revenue is primarily earned through entertaining, such as a venue or a restaurant. For a personal anecdote, I interned for a venue and my daily tasks included cleaning the vents, fixing a plant hanger, scheduling Twitter posts, and removing tape from windows.

As I already had a fantastic, engaging internship, I made the decision to leave the venue internship (even though I was very interested in learning their operations. I tried several times and my inquiries were ignored.) and spend more time in a better environment.

2. Intern Requirements Go Beyond School Experience

This one is particularly frustrating, because the whole concept of an internship is to get experience. If a company’s internship requires candidates to have “a proven ability” to do anything, are an “integral part” of the company, or need knowledge of something they wouldn’t learn in school (for instance, Photoshop for a music marketing intern) it’s not an internship. It’s an unpaid job.

3. Internships Are Indefinite

It’s generally accepted that internships should be kept short – about a semester long. Three months is enough time to gain some knowledge and make connections, but more importantly, that’s the standard because internships usually provide school credits. If you’re in school, and in an internship for longer than a semester, it’s likely not worth your time. Unless you are always learning something new, keep it short. If you want more experience, find a new internship.

4. Entry-Level Jobs Have Been Lost

There once was a time when entry-level meant exactly that. Anyone with a knowledge of the industry and a little bit of experience could find a job at a company, which would then train them for the job. Now, however, entry-level requires 2-3+ years of experience, a difficult feat when coming right out of college. To get this experience, students have to know exactly what job they want when they graduate, and then find internships in that field to rack up experience. Not sure what field is best for you, so you tried a few different areas? Good luck finding a job.

For a similar take on internships, which includes a guide to finding the best one for YOU, check out this SlideShare by Julian Weisser, whom I respect very much, of Ideas Then Lemonade.

Disclaimer: This is meant to be a critique of my generation (and my generation’s parents/teachers/mentors) as a whole. I fully believe my parents did a wonderful job of raising me and this in no way reflects their parenting style. That is all.

I was born smack dab in the middle of generation Y, which means I grew up amidst a massive shift in parenting techniques – most significantly, my generation was told we could “be anything we want,” and that we should “follow your dreams,” unlike previous generations who had to go a more traditional route or rebel.

At first glance, there is nothing wrong with our parents’ professions that we can take on the world and that all our loftiest dreams are reachable. It was great motivation, and many of us have grown up with confidence and high aspirations. There is a darker side, however. Because there was so much emphasis on boosting our self-esteem and making us feel like we’re special individuals, it’s resulted in a generation of kids who grew up and are currently being hit in the face with reality. Your parents think you’re special? Sorry, that won’t get you into OR pay for college. You want a job? Here’s an internship. It’ll help you get a job. Maybe. You want to be a musician? Okay, play these bars until you can rustle up a fan base, then you can play these tiny venues for a while, then MAYBE you can get a big enough draw for a mid-size venue. Tour? Good luck with that.

This has lead to a common, rather nasty reaction, which has gotten us the unfortunate nickname, The “Me” Generation. Said reaction comes in the form of the dreaded entitlement, and it has tainted my generation with a stereotype of being selfish, lazy, and too good for minimum wage jobs.

We grew up during the “self-esteem” movement, which means we were told that we’re all beautiful, all special, all have value, and often we weren’t given the ability to link self-esteem with accomplishments or anything of meaning other than just…being alive. Due to this shoddy foundation, there is an excess of young adults who are going into college and the real world believing that they deserve to simply be given what they want. We’re called The Me Generation for a reason.

One of the biggest issues where this crops up is that of the internship. Supposedly the gateway to a career, many college graduates have been let down when their one internship didn’t lead to a high-level position right after they walked across the stage and received their degree. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. With the majority of college students taking on one or more internships, the expected level of knowledge and experience has risen. If you want to get a high-level position, you still have to work your way up – there’s no getting around it. The only other way to start off working your dream job is to try your hand at self-employment, which may sound like a shortcut, but it can be far more stressful than working up through the ranks. Unfortunately, Generation Y often doesn’t think that way, which leads to a lot of unemployed, self-righteous grads living at home.

It may seem like I’m being harsh, but I’m not here to condemn my generation – or our parents. What I am here to say is that we all need to step back and take a look at the way we’ve been raised, knock our egos down a peg, and make sure we raise the next generation to be a balance of self-assured and hardworking.

Also, we should all boycott unpaid internships. But that’ll never happen.

I’ve switched into vacation mode. It always happens when I go back to Ohio for breaks in between semesters. BUT I’m getting back into it, finding time between relaxing and working for my parents’ sandwich shop to write to you beautiful people. The posts may be a little scattered for the next couple weeks, but there will definitely be a schedule once again when I’m back in Boston and in school.

The end of my internship was August 13th…it was bitter sweet to say the least. I learned so much this summer and am really happy to have found such a phenomenal place to work, but I was ready for a break.

A couple weeks before the end of my time there, they had their annual Digital Press Conference (which was sponsored by Reverbnation, so that’s cool). I was lucky enough to be able to interview all the artists that performed, so here’s an overview of the day!

The schedule was packed full of amazing musicians. I asked each of them to describe their music in one word – here’s what they said:

3:15 Amy Lynn & The Gunshow – Sassy-fresh
3:40 Tom Fuller Band – Brilliant
4:05 Jesse Terry – Timeless
4:30 David Bronson – Honest
4:55 Crazy Mary – Psychedelic
5:45 October Project – Romantic
6:10 Block – Complicated
6:35 Jenn Summers – Colbie collait/Jack Johnson driving down the PCH in a VW van heading to a Beach Boys concert
7:00 The Plaine Truth – Soul-Rock
7:25 Trew Music – Alternative Hip-Hop
7:50 Pete Herger – Rock & Roll

Some of them took creative liberty on the definition of “one,” but hey, they’re musicians.

I also asked the artists what methods – online or offline – bring them the most fans. The most popular answer was, in fact, live music! It makes sense to me, because I’ve found many bands that way. The second most popular was using social media sites and actually connecting with people. Tweet conversations, responding to Facebook comments, etc. Also, not surprising. It’s good to know that connection is still that important.

Being way up on the third floor, I was slightly separated from the chaos of the main floor, which was good for me, because it was pretty intense! There were 30+ people in the living room, kitchen, and back yard when I finally made my way down to the action. I staked my claim by the hummus and Stacey’s Pita chips (seriously, I could eat two bags of these), and mostly observed.

Each performer had the stage (the raised section of Ariel’s living room – awesome) for 15 minutes. In that time, the acts that I was able to see managed to get their essence across and blow everyone away. The two that stick out most were The Plaine Truth – with powerful female/male vocals – and Trew Music – with an attitude of someone doing exactly what they should be.

Trew Music!

The Plaine Truth rockin’ out

Trew also premiered his music video right after his performance. He started it with a warning that it’s not the usual music video, which I had a hard time believing, but he was right. It had a futuristic narrator that took us to different sections of the song, and the story it told. You can check it out here and let me know what you think!

The music video director himself. Trew’s entire crew were incredibly close and just seemed like great people.

The staff at Ariel Publicity ended up staying until around 10:30, which left us all exhausted the next day, but it was a great experience and I met some people I hope to meet up with whenever we manage to be in the same city! Couldn’t ask for more than that.

Oh and every aspect of the house was utilized to accommodate all the people – including the roof.

The staff of Cyber PR, ladies and gentlemen

I can definitely feel the end of my time in NYC coming up. I feel like I’m preparing, but in the wrong way. I should be pushing to do as much as possible before I leave, but I’ve started feeling like I’m already done instead. Not such a good thing with about a week left!

This week started off with some insanity and just got better from there:

Ariel Publicity had our 2012 Digital Press Conference and there were SO MANY awesome artists. Trew Music (above) was so much fun to talk to and see perform.

Helped a friend film a promotional video…on a rooftop in the upper East Side. Beautiful.

Brick + Mortar posted my review! I was pretty fucking pumped. You can read it here.

Checked out Alice’s Teacup with my friend Hannah. They have awesome “brookies” (brownie and cookie). Good way to celebrate an awesome week =]

If anyone knows of some awesome New York bands, I’m looking to get to know the scene more so let me know! I’ll totally bake you cookies (or mention you in a Tweet if you have an aversion to baked goods)

The majority of the posts on this blog are dedicated to sharing my advice from experience and from research, and to expose people to bands that I believe in that deserve to be acknowledged for their music. Today, however, I’m going to talk about my life the past couple weeks in a more personal way.

Although I love what I do, I’ve been struggling a little bit lately to keep my head above the stress of the industry, the difficulty in finding people that I can feel close to, and balancing the two without going crazy.

 

I’ve always been of the belief that I can do more, that I shouldn’t be satisfied with merely “good enough” – which is motivating, but it’s also disheartening and overwhelming sometimes.  The past two weeks have been non-stop for me, with managing a band for the first time, working 4 days a week, and writing for this blog as well as The Berklee Groove. I love everything that I do, but there have been times when I’ve thought to myself “What have I gotten into? What if it’s too much?” all while planning the next step.

 

It was especially difficult because, for nearly a year, whenever I was a little too stressed for my own good, I could turn to my significant other for support and perspective. However, things ended badly just before I came to New York and we’re no longer on speaking terms. I lost a best friend and that’s not an easy thing, especially living in a new city.

 

It’s not just affecting me, either. I haven’t been going out with friends nearly as much – and not at all during the week. It’s really been isolating and, without some serious support, makes the stress even worse. I can tell my friends are getting tired of inviting me out and always getting declined. I know it’s a learning process, but fuck if I know what I’m doing.

 

So what am I going to do about it?

 

Well, this past weekend I basically took a complete break – I didn’t work, or stress about something that needed to get done; I went out both nights and helped my friend shop for a birthday gift on Sunday. I danced and flirted and met some amazing people. It was a godsend really.

 

I’ve decided not to commit as many articles to The Berklee Groove, and luckily, because I’ve been working with the band for a couple weeks, the most time-consuming work for them is finished. Now it’s a matter of maintaining and keeping up with their current activities. I’m taking my own advice and learning to take time for myself and to have the ability to say no.

 

There’s no other industry I’d rather be in. I’m constantly amazed with where my life is headed – sometimes I just need a little perspective.

I’m halfway done already? What?? I’m already thinking about my plans for the end of the summer…and it’s kind of depressing. I wish I could just stay here, but I suppose I should probably get a degree. Being so close to graduation and all.

The good news is I got a new phone this week! Pictures are back (although I’ll definitely miss the puppies). Here are a few things I did this week:

 

Went to Googie’s Lounge to see my friend Jordan play, although I couldn’t stay the whole because of how insane my life has become…I swear I didn’t have a social life this week.

Decided to attempt to get back into running, especially because it’s such a nice area, but alas my knee started hurting almost immediately so that’s probably not going to be happening any time soon.

My awesome boss with her cat Hunter! She’s leaving for a week and he was being mopey the WHOLE day. He totally knew.

Last night I went to this awesommme rooftop party in Chelsea, with free food and drinks. I felt a wee bit under dressed…it was fancy as shit.

Went to an awesome bar called Home Sweet Home this weekend. They played music that was exclusively from the 50s and 60s, I want to go there always.

Tomorrow’s going to be a little bit of a different post. I’m going to talk about life and emotions and all the fun stuff that comes with taking on too much. Plus some single lady talk. It’s gonna be a good time.

Show Count: 1 (see? no life)

I had a week that was so full of the most jolting ups and downs, I had to resist the urge to look for Ashton Kutcher (Punk’d anyone?).

In order:

1. Started managing The Oats (awesome)
2. Confronted my venue internship supervisor (not awesome)
3. Got my purse from the MTA lost and found!! (awesome)
4. Was mugged by a ballsy 16-year-old in Brooklyn (not awesome…don’t worry, I’m fine)
5. Now work 4 days at Ariel and have a 3 day weekend (awesome)
6. Can only sleep on the weekends (not awesome)

I think my body decided to shut itself down yesterday due to some kind of PTSD. I slept 10 hours, then took a 3 hour nap

Because I now have no phone, there is a lack of pictures to document the past week…Also, I’ve been living off of bagels and peanut butter and jelly because he got my debit card. Welcome to Brooklyn.

To fill in for the lack of pictures, I was going to post a visual representation of why Pinterest is pushing women’s rights back few generations, but I decided I needed something soothing in my life instead.

Therefore, I bring you puppies:

 

 

Source: google.ca via Marla on Pinterest

Source: petapixel.com via Sara on Pinterest

Source: via Ashton on Pinterest

 
 

Source: lnkgt.com via Smile on Pinterest

You’re welcome.

Say you’re in school and you only have two, maybe three, more years until you’re pushed into the real world – a place where a degree will not guarantee you a job. You’re best course of action is to find an internship, which can be competitive and difficult to find. So what do you do?

In a word: research. I’ve gathered information from my own personal research, my experiences securing two internships in New York, as well as my peers’ experiences finding their internships, and compiled the most useful and universal guidelines for locking in the perfect company for you.

Plan Ahead

Companies are looking for interns that already have some kind of experience in their field. This may seem unfair to those who don’t have work experience, but there are ways to gain experience that don’t require an internship or hired position. The best way to get experience is through your school and community – Clubs, class projects, endeavors with classmates and friends, etc.

As soon as you know what your goals are, start gaining skills and experience that will help you in your search for internships and employment.

Start Early

Plan to start applying to internships four months before your scheduled start date. That means you should be researching* companies five to sixth months ahead. Many companies begin the intern hiring process early and fill up fast, so the sooner you’re in contact with them, the better.

Remember that it’s better to contact a company before they are hiring than after.

Be Persistent

Persistent, but not annoying. The initial email should include the cover letter in the body (unless otherwise specified) and your resume attached. Be formal, and focus on what skills you can bring to the table.

After the initial email, the accepted wait time for a follow-up is generally a week and a half to two weeks. Often the person in charge of hiring interns is flooded with emails daily, which means they sometimes fall through the cracks. If they don’t respond, don’t assume they aren’t interested; send them a quick reminder (with the original email), and more than likely they’ll get back to you.

Be Interview Ready

I spent HOURS researching how to interview properly. Anything on paper, I’m fairly confident with, but my social skills have taken a long time to develop and are a constant struggle. My best advice is to prepare as much as possible beforehand, and to know the basics, such as:

• Dress appropriately – Overdressing is better than underdressing, but in the music industry, you don’t necessarily have to wear a suit (in fact, it might be better to go slightly less formal, depending on the company)
• KNOW THE COMPANY – I can’t stress this enough…learn everything you can about it; what they do, who they’re associated with, even find out who’s going to interview you and research them personally.
• Memorize your answers – Stumbling over your words is not a great way to make a first impression. Think of a few stories that showcase your abilities and loosely memorize answers to common interview questions.
• Relax! – As difficult as this seems, it can make a huge difference in how you come across to the interviewer. A good tip is to remember that the interviewer is an employee doing their job, and, at one point, they were on the other side of the interview process.

Follow-up

After the interview, be sure to send an email thanking the interviewer for their time. It shows that you are respectful and that you care about the company.

Don’t forget to include an “I look forward to hearing from you,” which can help keep the conversation going.

*Research

Throughout this entire process, you should be looking for companies that are a good fit for YOU. Many times, potential interns focus on what they can bring to the company and filling in their resume, but just as important is the benefits you will receive from the company. If you can, find former interns or talk to employees who work with interns to get a better idea what the day to day will be like. The more information you have, the better match you can make; the better the match, the better the experience.

Some Other Good Advice:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelmatthews/2011/03/31/7-tips-for-internship-preparation/

http://newmusicstrategies.com/2009/05/27/applying-for-your-first-job-in-the-music-industry-7-tips/

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverlettertips/tp/coverlettertips.htm

If you have any questions or are in need of advice, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at musikleigh@gmail.com!

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for a MAGICAL BONUS POST about my recent status as a manager. It’s gonna be awesome.

Three weeks in and I’m pretty confident about what to expect from day to day at my internships. Time for a sneak peek into the lowest level in the music industry:

Internship #1

The best part about this industry? Waking up early is avoided at all costs. My first internship doesn’t start until 2, so I can either catch up on the sleep I didn’t get over the weekend or wake up and get some shit done before the chaos of the world takes up all my time.

Because it’s a venue, there’s a lot of manual work that has to be done. Here’s my morning checklist:

  • Check messages
  • Rotate posters (get rid of old ones, put up new ones, etc)
  • Write the lineup for the night on the chalkboards (I have horrible handwriting so this rarely goes well)
  • Water and hang the plants

Pretty basic stuff that would be a bit of a hassle for the higher ups. After the checklist is finished, I go to my supervisor for tasks. A lot of the time it’s administrative work, like updating the website, writing tweets, or making new sheets for the sound guys.

The best times are when they ask me to look for musicians that could possibly play a show. That involves looking at a list of blogs that feature local or small bands and listening to the top 10 musicians on each blog. Great for discovery, and I’m ALWAYS down to listen to some music.

Skills Acquired

I’d like to think my handwriting has improved from doing the listings, but sadly that’s not true…I have been learning a lot about what works for bands and what doesn’t though.

  • Bright, professional posters are a must. Make sure to have the date ON the poster. Also it’s better if you don’t send the posters folded, who wants to read a wrinkled poster?
  • For the love of God, PLEASE have more than a MySpace. Put down the whip, that horse is dead. Perfect combination? Website, Facebook, Twitter. And of course you can throw in a sprinkling of other websites if it tickles your fancy.
  • The name of your band can make you impossible to find, or it can make you stick out. Choose wisely.
  • Venues want you to bring a certain amount of people, but most bands don’t live up to their promises. You can use that knowledge to get yourself some more gigs, or pleasantly surprise the venue management.

Internship #2

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably figured out that I intern at Ariel Publicity. I don’t think I’ll have any issues putting that up here because, well, they’re awesome.

Ariel Publicity is a digital PR company that works with artists to increase their online presence and guide them in the world of social media. We work exclusively online, so I spend a lot of time on my laptop.

There is a lot less every day work to do, so I spend my time on various ongoing projects like

  • Pitching bands to various websites
  • Researching ways to increase the reach of Facebook pages (since they decided to make it extremely difficult recently)
  • Database cleaning (tedious, but seriously necessary)
  • Planning the 2012 Digital Press Conference

If you couldn’t tell, there’s a lot more responsibility working for Ariel. I really feel like I’m personally helping each band I work with (we get to choose) and I’m getting invaluable experience that I can apply to any future endeavor. This is the kind of internship that can lead to a job; not only does it look good on a resume, but it helps add skills and experience that students otherwise don’t get.

Skills Acquired

Too many to list, but here are the main ones.

  • Professional writing skills. I’ve always thought of myself as a decent writer, but the level of thought required to write a compelling pitch has made me up my game like nothing else.
  • New marketing techniques and ways to transfer those skills from one platform to another. The internet is always changing, which means a site that’s popular today could change or disappear at any time. Learning the basics and how to adapt to these changes quickly is what keeps Ariel from becoming obsolete.
  • Website design and HTML. I’ve learned basic HTML before, but having to create and edit pages of the Ariel Publicity website has cemented what I learned and forced me to teach myself skills I didn’t have before.
  • Networking. A lot of social media involves being able to communicate clearly and connect with people online and in person (yes, we do still meet in person on occasion). Personally, this is a difficult area for me, so it’s great to be pushed and surrounded by people who are literally social for a living.

By far the best part of being an intern is the fact that I am constantly surrounded by music. I’ve found some phenomenal music in the past few weeks and the best part is that I can actually have a significant impact on their success.

As someone who really prefers to take on my own projects and would rather work in isolation than with a group of like-minded people, being an intern is a bit of a struggle. There isn’t much choice in the tasks you’re assigned (unless you’re lucky) and a lot of the time there are tasks and projects that have to be split with the other interns. If you work well in this environment, you’ll have no problems. For those of you who prefer a different work situation, I’ve come up with some tips to make the (likely unpaid) internship work for you.

1. Learn From The Little Things

Expect to have a lot of tasks that are time consuming but fairly mindless (more lovingly known as “bitch work”). Taking down messages, updating inventories and databases, running out to get various items, etc. The good thing about these tasks? You can learn a LOT about what really goes into a business. It’s not all about ideas and the “big picture.” All of the tasks that are a little less exciting are essential to making the business run, and even make the company come across as more professional.

2. Don’t Wait Around: Be Proactive

Besides the daily tasks, there are likely projects that you’ll be assigned. Sometimes they are repetitive clerical type projects, but often you’ll get a more creative assignment. There’s actually a lot of opportunity at this point to learn and to prove yourself. If you can come up with an idea for a project that could help the company, you’re a step ahead of the majority of interns. It will also guarantee two things: 1. You’ll get to work on a project that actually interests you and 2. your supervisor will see that you can think for yourself, instead of waiting around for a set of instructions, which goes a long way when looking for a job.

3. USE Their Connections

In all likelihood, the company you work for has a ton of connections in the industry, or they wouldn’t be where they are today. Take advantage of this as much as possible. Any parties, shows, or networking events they host or attend, be in a position to be invited and meet some people! You’d be surprised how many people are as eager to meet (and guide) interns as interns are to meet them. Have a card, and have a smile. It’s hard to go wrong with that.

*The one thing with this is to not push too hard. If it seems like a “staff only” or upper management thing, don’t ask if you can go directly. Also, don’t promote yourself too hard when networking, it should feel like a normal conversation, not a sales pitch

4. Make Friends With Other Interns

They may not have business experience right now, but they are the future of the industry, and it’s always good to have friends who know and trust you. Internships can be competitive, and it can create an atmosphere that fosters animosity, but you can help prevent or reverse that by reaching out and showing that you aren’t a threat. Everyone in this industry has to work together, not tear each other down, if we want to build it up to the giant it used to be.

5. Ask ALL The Questions

Seriously. Your employer and the rest of the workers at the company have so much knowledge. Even if it’s something you’re not directly interested in, learning the ins and outs of the company is essential to succeeding. It shows that you go above and beyond, and (between you and me) can help shine a light on systems in the company that might not be working…which you can then help to fix. End result? They’ll either hire you or find you someplace that will.

I kept it to 5 of the basics, but here are a few articles with a lot more advice:

Internship Success

Advice For Interns