Music internships are great for gaining experience that may be parlayed into a job when you graduate. They are especially useful if you are majoring in any area of music that also involves business – including arts management, music industry, and music technology.
Music internships also can be very demanding. And they are generally unpaid. As an intern, you are the proverbial low man or woman on the totem pole and are asked to do grunt work and other projects you may not want to do all your life. Recognize that this is a form of initiation: you are being scrutinized on your attitude, thoroughness, and willingness to support the team. Interns who show up to meet the challenges –– yes, even hanging in there with a positive attitude while dusting the recording studio or taking out the trash –– and who also show their talents and abilities on the technical end, are more likely to be offered increased responsibilities and recognition as well as paid opportunities.
Follow the Leader
To be successful in your music internship, it is essential that you follow the rules. Be on time. Go the extra yard, pitch in wherever possible. Respect your boss and the rest of the team. Show your enthusiasm and passion but also know when to be quiet and listen. Learn everything you can about the company where you’re interning on your own time. Ask permission before using equipment, and ask questions if you are unsure how to use it. Don’t assume anything.
Offer to help with studio set-ups or tear-downs, reports, and other business-related presentations. Plan to learn quickly. Make life easier for your boss and others. Show your appreciation when offered free concert tickets, lunch, or any other perks. Be sure to call your boss or supervisor if you cannot show up at your internship or need to be late for any reason.
Internships that go well can land you great letters of recommendation. It’s important to get those letters while you are still fresh in the minds of your boss and any other significant players.
Finding a Music Internship
Most career offices or centers at colleges and universities provide listings of internships and also host internship fairs. Be wary of websites that promise internships for a fee. You’re much better off working through your school and your professors; music venues; recording studios; and anyone you know in the music business. Note that the U.S. Department of Labor created a set of standards in 2010 to clarify terms under which employers can hire interns and to protect interns from abuse. (See link below to US DOL Internship Programs)
• The U.S. Department of Labor has created “Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” to safeguard interns. US DOL Internship Programs.
• Check out great pointers for anyone taking on an internship in any area of music in music consultant/author Christopher Knab’s “Do’s and Don’ts For Audio and Other Music Oriented Interns: Or, How to Impress Your Internship Employer and Become Successful in the Recording Industry” on this website: Music Biz Academy