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Getting an internship

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by WRX07, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    Ok, I am 18 years old and just started getting into recording in December 2003. I don't know if this is what I want to do with my life, but so far I really enjoy all the aspects of recording. Reading countless recording magazines and websites, recording myself and friends, learning about compressors, pre's, etc, even staring at a computer screen for hours trying to learn how to mix using eq's and other plug-ins.

    I have a small home setup with a Mac G5 and a Digidesign 002, and record myself and a couple friends. I am motivated(obsessive might be a better word) and am willing to work very hard.

    Pretty much I want to learn everything I can about recording. Technical stuff, producing, and the business side of running a studio. And I think working as an intern in a local studio would be the best and quickest way to go. I don't expect to be paid and would be willing to do anything around the studio like: fetching food, winding cables, cleaning pots and faders on consoles, tuning instruments...whatever. I am still in college, but have chosen a schedule so I get out of class everyday by one. I am still a bit of a newb, so I doubt I could offer too much technical advice to the people in the studio. I'm a pretty good listener, and know how to stay out of the way. I can also play guitar, piano, and am taking music theory classes in school.

    So what is the best way to try and get an internship at a local studio? Go through the phone book and just call studios? Should I fill out a resume? I don't have much recording experience, so what would I put? Equipment...ambitions? I live in Modesto, California, which is in the Central Valley. Like I said I don't have much experience, but I am a hard worker and I am willing to do whatever it takes to learn as much as I can about recording.

    My guitar teacher runs a small studio in town, but he has said bands wouldn't feel comfortable if he had some kid just standing in the back(it's a small two-room studio connected to a veternarian hospital.) Next time I see him, though, I'm going to ask if he knows of any studios that I might be able to intern at.

    Sorry for the ridiculously long post, guys. I would really appreciate any feedback or advice.

  2. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Hi Andrew,
    I've had dozens of interns over the last 21 years. Two things come to mind right away.

    One, the pro studio market is but a mere shadow of what it was like 10 or 15 years ago. That being said, you'll most likely find a fairly weak market for internships. Now this may be different in your neck of the woods, but I doubt it. This is not to discourage you but more to get you to think about how you spend your time and effort looking into a position. I get calls every day from new graduates of Full Sail. They all say pretty much the same thing as if it's written for them by the "placement" office at school.

    I will consider an intern that has the artistic edge to make the initial schpeal more interesting than the last 10 guys. I'm not saying to call up and bark like a dog. I'm just pointing out that you need to stand out from the din of interns looking for a place to go.

    This is a creative industry, so be creative.

    I might suggest that you get to know a particular studio/engineer (that you respect), very well from afar. Learn everything you can about the gear they have, there lastest releases and who the owner is. This way you can approach the studio with an angle that fewer interns will know about.

    For example: I record a lot of Irish folk and Gospel albums. If you were interested in working for me, you should know this. Maybe you could pick up a gig recording a local church group for free and then present this to me at an initial meeting. I know that I would be impressed by someone who put much more than a phone call into the pitch.

    These are just a few thoughts to chew on.

    Good luck,

  3. WRX07

    WRX07 Guest

    Thank you for the quick reply, Chris. I'm definetly going to have to start researching the studios around me and their engineers.

    Would you be more likely to choose an intern that has had formal recording training(like at Full Sail), or an intern who has had no training, but has recorded some decent-quality home demos?
  4. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Most of the interns I have working here are college students that want to learn mastering. They do everything from making dubs to wiring snakes to helping with the advertising and marketing of the studio. They get a very well rounded education by the time they are done interning here. I pay them for their time since they are, in most cases, helping to make the studio some money. This has worked very well for me and I hope to continue it in the future. Most people when they come here are not fully trained and they learn while they earn.

    I too have had my share of candidates from different audio schools apply here for an intern position and most of them, from the really good schools, are good students with a decent background in audio. They sometimes lack the people skills which are so important in this business but it is something they can and do learn while they are here. Most of the people have been taught the basics. They know the difference between microphones and pickup patterns and they know how to get around on a DAW. They may also have been trained on using some exotic console like a NEVE or SSL which for my purposes is nice but not terribly useful.

    The students/interns I most like to get are the ones that are ready and eager to learn, who have some basic knowledge, who are willing to put in the extra time to learn what it is that we do here and who have an open mind to changes in the audio business and know that all they learned in college is great but it is only the beginning of their life long quest for knowledge. The ones that are truly superior are the ones that stay around AFTER the workday to ask questions or help on a technical problem that has happened during they day and now I get to tackle when the work is done. The ones that leave precisely at 6 pm (or earlier) or blow off their job when they want to or never stay after when the studio closes are the ones I wonder about. If you are not passionate about working how do you ever expect to "make it" in this challenging and competitive field.

    Hope this helps. FWIW
  5. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    I would go with a so-called un-educated intern that knew how to throw down the good sounds.

    I've "generally" found that most formally trained engineers have a very narrow view of the whole recording process. It's as if they were taught just one set of rules and if the rules don't apply in a certain situation, they are like a deer in headlights.

  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Not sure what you mean by the term "throw down good sound" could you elaborate? Thanks.

  7. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Yeah maybe a bit too slangy.

    I just mean that an intern should have enough self-taught experiance to come into my studio and dial-in a good snare/guitar ect... sound, without me holding his/her hand.

    That's pretty much what I meant.

  8. mojorison

    mojorison Guest

    I find it nearly impossible to find a legitimate internship in the chicagoland area. After spending over 5k in training and course studies... I realized, that most studios simply don't care unless you have an accredited piece of paper.

    "This studio wants you to already know everything.

    That studio wants you to bring artists in, in order to have a job.

    This studio even wants you to pay them in order to do menial things for a month, then start learning.


    I fell for the intern trap last year, and spent 2 months working 34-40 hours a week cleaning up warehouse area, and building industrial shelving units before they booted me before my intern time was up.

    Let me say as a fellow youngster trying to make something out of my creativity... it's very hard to find honest folk that will let you be an intern, and not free labor. While I see countless good, and hard working individuals online... real world is another story.

    It truely isn't a myth, and most youth in Chicagoland understand this.

    Personally, I can't afford going to a place like Full Sail, so I'll be going to an accredited school in order to get that piece of paper, in order to get work in engineering/production.

    It's sad, but the idea of big studios is much different now, than when my father, or my former audio teachers were my age.
  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Not all studios are like that.

    It is expensive to run a studio and to hire someone to be an intern if they are not producing any income. I pay my interns for their time since most of the time they are making the studio money by working on projects or helping me with projects. If they were here and not contributing to the income of the studio I don't know if I could afford to pay them.

    Many studios look on interns as free labor that will do the things that no one else wants to do. While they are doing these menial jobs they should also be able to sit in on sessions and learn from observing. If all they are doing is taking out the trash and cleaning out the restrooms then they are more like slaves than interns. I don't make my interns do anything that I personally will not do including cleaning out the client's restroom, taking out the trash and running the vacuum cleaner. They also do sessions with me where there are real clients in attendance and sometimes they get a chance to actually do the mastering if it is a good client that understands that the next generation of mastering engineers has to start somewhere.

    I get a lot of people asking to be an intern here at Acoustik Musik, Ltd. I am more than happy to have them working here if they understand that this is a small operation and everyone that is here needs to work in order for the studio to survive. I have had a couple of interns recently who were GREAT! One is now a Master's Candidate at Julliard and the other is a Mastering Engineer in Nashville. Both were exceptional people to begin with and learned much by working here but also worked hard and did good work the whole time they were here. I have also had some duds. One person was spending his time, when he was suppose to be working, doing socializing with friends on the phone plus he was doing work for friends and charging them for his time while he was being paid to be an intern. He could not understand why I was unhappy with what he was doing. Another spent most of the day when he was suppose to be working surfing the internet checking his emails and going to places on the net that I was amazed and discussed to know even existed. Another intern would be in a session with a client in attendance and start to make unflattering comments about the client's work or the mastering that was being done and would argue with clients about their musical ideas. More than once I had to find an excuse to have us both leave the room so I could tell him to "shut up" After about 4 of these sessions he no longer worked here.

    If you are a good intern with a good solid background and know when to open your mouth and when to keep it shut and can learn from watching I don't think you will have much trouble finding an intern position in Chicago.

    Best of Luck!!!!!
  10. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    I'm going through the same thing in Chicago. I was shot down by Studio Chicago and I haven't heard anything from the others. I'm going to give it a few days and start making follow up calls. I've been trying to get an internship in Chicago for 2 years now. I would say that I'm a people person and a schmoozer. I have been since I was a little kid and learned from my dad who is probably the best BStin' small business guy I know. I work my ass off and most cases for free even in my home setup. I just want to be good at what I do!
  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I just had a recent graduate of Full Sail apply for a job here. He is a great person who would fit in well with our operation and really knew his stuff. I agreed to talk to him, as I do with anyone who wants to get into the audio field, but at present we have no openings.

    I wish I could have hired him but the reality of what is happening in the world of professional studios here in Ohio is that more and more people are doing the recording and mastering themselves which means that people who provide pro services are seeing less and less clients with money coming in the front door which also means that they cannot hire additional people nor can they afford to have paid interns. This young person had sent out 150 resumes and had only heard back from two studios - ours and another studio in Cincinnati which offered him an unpaid internship. He is engaged and wants to stay in Ohio to raise his family but his prospects look bleak. When he did follow up phone calls he was amazed at how many studio owners slammed the phone in his ear or cut him off in mid sentence saying "we are NOT hiring now please don't call us we will call you". One guy told him that his best option would be to start his own studio if he really wanted to stay in audio.

    The problem I see is that there are too many people graduating from audio schools and or looking for internships or jobs at the same time that more and more people are spending their money buying equipment instead of using that money to record or master in professional studios.

    I was in GC yesterday and a guy was buying a recording studio "package" to do his own recording in his apartment. He dropped over $4,000.00 on equipment including an all in one mixer - hard disk recorder, a couple of microphones, some headphones and assorted cords and a stand alone duplicator. I got a chance to talk to him when he was wheeling his purchases out to his car and he told me that it was his decision to "go it alone" and to be able to record when and where he wants to. I gave him my card but he said that the all in one unit he purchased is able to do "mastering" so he did not think he would need our services. I wished him "good luck" and watched him load his car and drive off. I found that he was basically clueless as to what he was getting into and had no basic knowledge of audio or recording but the GC salesmen assured him that it would all be "very easy" as dreams of a fat commission danced in his head.

    This kind of decision, going it on your own, is happening more and more and it is nice that GC's bottom line is getting fatter but that means that more and more people are not using the pro facilities that are available to them. I did a survey recently off the net and from phone books and within 200 miles of our facility there are over 600 "recording" studios that advertise their presence (most of them are one person operations). These range from fully staffed pro studios to someone doing things out of their basement. At the same time our local independent music store says there are over 150,000 musicians on their mailing list in the same area. That ratio seems good at first glance with roughly 250 musicians per studio but of course that does not take into account all the musicians that are using their own equipment and simply are not advertising that they are a "studio" or the musicians that are piano teachers or symphony players that would probably not have need for a recording studio.

    I see this as a major trend in the audio world and especially with the closing of some really top facilities in major cities means that recording in a pro studio as we know it is slowly dying. This unfortunately means that people such as yourself are having a tough time trying to find an opening so you can increase your skill level. Even major performers are spending millions of dollars putting in their own studios so when the mood strikes them they can retire to the studio and lay down some tunes.

    Even though music and audio are major part of my life and have been for over 35 years the world I knew when I was just starting out is not same as the world that is greeting the most recent graduates of the audio schools. Things they are a 'changing.

    I am eternally hopeful but the prospects of getting a foot in the door is looking less and less likely for a majority of the people who want to learn audio or increase their skill level and be paid for their time.

    I can only wish you the best of luck and hopefully you will be able to find someone who can use your services and are doing enough business to afford to hire you.

    I told the young person who had applied that I would hire him in an instant if I could afford him, I suggested that he look outside of Ohio and if all else failed think about a career on a parallel course.

    Hope this helps!
  12. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Well, Thomas.....

    Thanks to you and many others wishing me luck....I got an intership! I'm starting one day per week (it's a start) at Gravity Studios here in Chicago. They record a lot of indie rock/emo bands like Fallout Boy and have worked with Veruca Salt, Smashing Pumpkins...etc.

    I'm really excited! The coolest thing about it is that the day I start (2 weeks) I won't be cleaning. They are going to start teaching me the Neve console and Studer....then I clean. The owner told me that he wants people to know how to run the gear because they actually hire their interns unlike other places around here that keeps them as janitors then send em packing. It was perceived by me that they don't want janitors that can possibly run their gear, but instead want AE's fluent in their gear at their disposal who they can make do the grunt work until they've earned their place in the food chain.

    Pretty sweet stuff....thanks for the wishes of good luck...they helped!
  13. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Arthur Garceau

    Congrats. Its seems like all your hard work and perseverance paid off big time.

    Now make us all proud and give it the best you can. Don't be afraid to ask questions. One thing I tell my interns is "I would rather have you ask a lot of questions BEFORE you do something stupid than to hear you apologize forever because you messed up a client's material"

    Best of luck and keep on learning!
  14. kujazz45

    kujazz45 Guest

    I also find it difficult to get replies for internships. Though I got my internship at a record label doing promotion, I was thinking of dipping my fingers into production and actual studio work. I haven't actually started yet, but from what I can tell from my peers also struggling to get internships, I think I might just try to get a referral or somehow use my connections to get into a studio rather than just blindly sending out my resume like I have been and see how that goes.
  15. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    I didn't even send resumes. Just phone calls and email.

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