Today’s featured question is: “I’m going to be beginning an internship at a studio near me this fall, what skills, technical or not, do you believe are most important for an intern to have?”
This is a fantastic question! I have a lot of stories about interns that have come up, done really well, and become very successful, and have amazing careers!
Yesterday, we did a video with Jason LaRocca, who interned for a famous film composer for many years! Someone left a comment on that video saying something like “Sounds like you just need to be in the right place at the right time.”
How is that “at the right place at the right time?” You mean the right place at the right time for years, working for free or little money? I know that we all want to think that everything is about luck, I get it! But that’s not the case!
From my personal experience, building up my own career, is that it’s really been about continually working. I’ve come up against so many brick walls that I could have given up 100s of times- with even more excuses I could have used to justify “why I didn’t make it in the music industry!” It’s easy to say that.
It’s also easy to say “just keep going, kid!”
But honestly, just keep going, kid! Haha
It’s about having a good healthy attitude, but at the same time as the words leave my lips.. I haven’t always been all “everything’s rosy and fantastic!” I’ve gone through depression and being angry that I barely got credited on an album that I did most of the work on! I remember producing a band, where they put themselves as “producer” and added me as “additional engineering!”
I’ve gone through all of the exact same things that you have gone through, or will go through! The reality is that I’ve found place where I’m happy and fulfilled doing this. As long as I get that feeling, I can ride the crest of the wave. I can be miscredited, or uncredited.
That was a great question! The best skill you can have as an intern is humility and to realize that people are just looking for you to do the things that they need help with. And if you can do that, they’ll be like “that person is really helpful. You know what? I’ve got this other great gig that I need help on where they have to use more skills, and maybe there’s a bit of a budget! I’ll use that person! Because they were really helpful!” – Jason LaRocca said that SPECIFICALLY in that interview!
I can tell you from experience that the “opportunity” and the “luck” is what you make yourself.
The opportunities arise when you’re there as often as you can be to say yes, and to help out.
Now I’m going to go to the other side of things….
I can’t tell you how many interns have blown opportunities! I bet they’re the same people saying “right place right time!”
I have watched people be in a room, and have an opportunity to make a really good impression with a producer or an engineer that I know is actually looking for an assistant- and watch them show a bit of arrogance and not be responsive.
I won’t say who it is, but a good friend of mine, a producer, called me at the end of a record, and asked me “where did you find this guy?” He was referring to Sam Martin!
Sam interned with us for about 9 months for free on a huge album, and he did everything from plugging in amps, and mics, to running to get food. And then after the 9 months, I think he got paid like $500 a month? Which slowly grew into a living wage.
By the end of it, he’s a first call for me! Jack Douglas uses him all the time when he has to do vocal comps! He’s a first call when you’re extremely busy because we know “that guy’s going to deliver!” He’s delivered consistently for maybe 9 years?
There’s no luck in there. There’s no right place in the right time with that story.
Phil Allen was my intern, and his first day was delivering a PA at 7AM to the outside venue for a festival we we had put together. He had to get at our storage facility at probably 5:30AM to load it all up, drive it all down, offload all of it, and set it all up. He ended up finishing at 2AM that night!
That was a 3 day festival.. on the last day we had to stay over night and break down the PA and then clean the place up! There was no cleaning crew! It was me and my business partner picking up all the trash! Guess who was with us? Phil!
Phil eventually went on to win a Grammy for recording Adele’s “Someone Like You!”