The problem with some interns....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Thomas W. Bethel, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Replying to another item on this list reminded me that although I mostly have really GREAT interns I have also had my share of duds.

    I guess you could subtitle this as what NOT to do as an intern. The following is some words of advice I have had to give certain interns over the years.

    1. Don't come late to work. If you are suppose to be at the studio at 9 am that is when you are expected not at 15 minutes after 9. The same with leaving. Let someone know you are leaving and don't just leave.

    2. Don't spend a lot of time on the phone with your friends either as outgoing or incoming phone calls. Turn your cell phone OFF when in session and don't under any circumstances take a personal phone call when you are in the middle of a session with a client whether listening or doing the session. Tell the caller you will call them back AFTER the session is completed or at the next break.

    3. When you use the last of something let your boss know so they can order more.

    4. Don't spend a lot of time "doing your own thing" either sending and replying to emails or being somewhere that no one can find you.

    5. If there is a central area for people to relax and have a snack or lunch clean up after yourself when you are though.

    6. Don't come to work when you are stoned or otherwise impaired of judgment. Don't take prescription medicines with out knowing their side effects and don't have a three beer lunch and then come to work.

    7. Dress appropriately for the job. If you are on a remote classical recording job and you have to go on stage or be in the hall then don't wear cut offs and a tee shirt with flip flops.

    8. Don't use equipment or supplies without checking with your boss. I had one intern that was, without asking, making copies of client's CD without their knowledge or consent. We caught him early in the game and recovered all the CDs that he had made. This is a BIG NO NO and can land you and the company you work for in BIG trouble.

    9. If you don't understand something ask questions BEFORE you get yourself and the company in trouble.

    10. Don't talk about other clients in front of clients and if you have a comment about something going on in a session either excuse yourself and ask if you can talk to the engineer in the hall away from the clients or wait until after the session. Do not make inappropriate remarks about the client's musical skills or what is being recorded while the client is sitting in the room. Conversely if you hear something that is obviously wrong then be sure to point it out in a helpful way and not say "hey your bass player is WAY out of tune" more appropriate would be " it would probably be a good idea for everyone to tune before we start the next take"

    11. Be attentive to what is going on and if your help is needed be ready to do what is asked from getting a cup of coffee for the client to ordering lunch for the group being recorded. You may also be requested to work a tape deck or run to the nearest music store to pick up some item that the group needs. Refusing to do these simple tasks, because you want to stay with the session, can have a negative impact on your status as an intern.

    12. Act as if your income depended on the work you do since in the not too distant future it will come to that. Be proud of everything you do and don't dishonor yourself or the company by doing something that will have a negative impact such as stealing a tour jacket or guitar strings from the artist or stealing a microphone from the studio or acting in such a childish or insensitive manner that the client will not return to the studio and the resultant loss of business will mean you no longer have a job.

    Just some things to keep in mind if you are an intern.

    There are probably more to be added but I will let others round out the list.
  2. Boltino

    Boltino Guest

    Great list. Thanks!! :D

  3. Rider

    Rider Guest

    great post! i am planning on interning somewhere (hopefully next year). most of these are no brainers for me, but i would love to see more added.
  4. yzfwv

    yzfwv Guest

    So, looks like I have the work ethic you need. When can I start? 8)
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Here's another one Tom:

    Be reachable!

    If I call you and always have to leave a voicemail, at least return it promptly.

    If I e-mail you, I expect a reply within 24 hours.

    How do people get by without checking their e-mail for days or weeks on end???????

    J. :D
  6. Bridge

    Bridge Guest


    I guess they don't, they just miss out ...

    My girlf didn't even mind me using my laptop with a wirless connection on our remote island holiday.. bless..
  7. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    ...,....Yeah! I mean, Hell, I'm on a plane waiting to take off from Anchorage, AK and I'm checking my e-mail! :shock:
  8. panda

    panda Guest

    a good list. but, isn't that stuff you should be teaching your intern? not expecting them to know right off the gun? seems obvious. but.. you/we're use to it.
    an intern should be learning. even if they are hard lessons. once they are just applying what they know. it's working.
    if you need professional reliable help from day one. you should hire/pay someone. not use "interns" as free labor.
    especially if you need someone available 24/7.

  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Some of it seems to me to be normal "business sense" that one should acquire as you work no matter what the job (Mickey McDs or GC) , some is "horse sense" that you should have gained as you went though school and interacted with your family, friends and schoolmates, some of it your parents should have taught you as you grew up. I personally go over all of it with my interns some of them only remember what they want to remember and forget the rest.

    Being an intern is a GREAT way to learn about the business without taking any real risks. You sit in sessions and are, in our case, paid to learn. Then you are given more and more tasks that you have to master and finally you are on your own with a project to do by yourself. You may also have to make some coffee for a client or run to the store for sandwiches BUT you are always learning. I basically overload the intern with written material that I ask them to read and if they have questions to ask them. Some of them take it home and really read it, some don't bother reading any of it and some skim over it but really don't understand much and never take the initiative to ask questions.

    When we start putting the intern in situations they need to know what they have been asked to learn. if they don't they will get themselves into trouble. The best advice I can give a potential intern is to be inquisitive and ask good thoughtful questions and if you still don't understand the concept or what you are being asked to do keep asking questions until you do understand.

    Some interns we have had in the past were so lackadaisical they simply did not learn and spent too much time "playing" and therefore lost their internships because there are many more people seeking internships than we have spaces to accommodate them. Our internships are just like REAL LIFE. You either do your job and keep learning or your boss may decide that he or she can find someone else to do the work some one who is really interested in the job and master quickly what they need to know.
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Well, not really Trevor.

    Much of the stuff on the list is common sense and I don't feel I should have to "teach" it to anyone. The purpose of an intern, from the intern's perspective is to watch and learn the art of mixing and the art of music politics. I shouldn't have to teach him/her basic workmanship skills.

    True, some learning takes place as much as I would say that everyday that I live I learn something new about conducting business and living in the work environment, but some stuff should just be a given.

  11. Rider

    Rider Guest

    man, if i interned and was given a bunch of written stuff, id read through it like crazy and archive it. anything is worth reading and keeping around. i still have a ton of links to stuff like compression and miking amps and crap.

    anyway, yes a lot of that stuff is common sense, or SHOULD be. i have never set foot in a studio, have very little job experience, and its STILL common sense to me.

    i have a question though, im working on moving near the LA area within a year. any advise on a way to get an internship (paid or not)? i hav a couple of people i can ask to see if they know anybody. what are good places to go to get an internship? i wont be getting one through a college program (which ive heard lowers my chance, but doesnt destroy it). on the plus side, i meet a lot of requirements (like knowing macs, which seems common, and basic understanding of mixing), but i wouldnt have an impressive resume (only worked a couple general labor jobs and only musical experience is from studying at home).

    where could i go to get a good shot at an internship? what places would offer great people to learn from? i wouldnt mind getting coffee for people, but i want to learn some pretty in debth and crazy stuff. guess you could say more respected places.

    and still waiting on more not-so-common-sense tips. :)

    oh, does it help if you have songs youve mixed on your own to show to them? would they take them into consideration?
  12. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    I get most of my interns from the local college. I have a really good intern now who came to me quite by accident. He was interested in learning more about audio (he wants to be an entertainment lawyer) and someone suggested he contact me. He is a very good intern and has super ears.

    I have to say that many interns who send me letters or emails (that they send out in bulk) are not as well prepared as they might think they are and some from the infamous 6 week schools of audio engineering and culinary arts are really short on experience but the schools have them so pumped up that they think as soon as they apply for a job they will be hired. That is not to say that I have not had some excellent people apply for intern positions though the mail and on occasion I have hired them.

    The problem you are facing is that there are many more people looking for intern jobs than there are intern jobs to be had.

    The audio profession is like any other business. It is not as big as other industries but networking is just as important in audio as it is in any other business. I would start trying to find musicians and fellow audio people who know someone in the business in LA and start making contacts. I have a really good friend who has a friend who works at Skywalker ranch so if I wanted to go to California and work I would be in contact with my friend and in turn be in contact with his friend at Skywalker. Even working at a GC store in California for a while my land you some very valuable contacts. I know of one employee of a GC store near hear that made enough contacts though the store that he opened his own studio and had it overbooked the day he opened.

    Don't get discouraged if the first couple of places you try turn you down. Leave a copy of your resume, a business card AND A PHONE NUMBER WHERE YOU CAN BE REACHED 24/7 and after the interview send them a quick letter thanking them for letting you interview. Then in a couple of weeks call them back and ask if they have any openings. Persistence will pay off in the long run.

    The audio field can be very fluid and one week can be really down with no work coming in the door and the next month can be overbooked so I pays to keep in contact with the people who do the hiring as they may need someone ASAP. Also don't be afraid to ask at one studio if they know of anyone looking for interns. The audio fraternity is a small one and most people know other studio owners in their area and the maybe able to steer you to the right place.

    One thing to remember is that TODAY it is a much different era in audio. Many large studios are downsizing and many more are diversifying into other areas like video, duplication, replication and radio production so if you have additional skills in diverse areas your chance of getting hired are increased. Be comfortable in what you know and don't try and oversell yourself by saying you know things you do not. No one wants to hire someone only to find out that they are a phony and believe me word gets around quickly to other studios.

    Best of luck and let us know how it is going.
  13. Rider

    Rider Guest

    "I have to say that many interns who send me letters or emails (that they send out in bulk) are not as well prepared as they might think"

    well, i learn on my own or from talking to friends, so i know where i stand. im not 'pumped up' as much as i am that serious about furthering my learning.

    "The problem you are facing is that there are many more people looking for intern jobs than there are intern jobs to be had. "

    i know :(

    "I would start trying to find musicians and fellow audio people who know someone in the business in LA and start making contacts."

    well, it happened by chance. (leaving out names obviously), one friend knows someone in the industry and a band. another friend (and a band im friends with) is good friends with another band (and knows other bands from touring). another person i know knows another band and ive met them. none of which are local, theyre pretty respected people. im sure ill meet even more people between now and hwen i want to get an internship.

    "Don't get discouraged if the first couple of places you try turn you down."

    if you only knew whats happened to me the past few months, you would be surprised im still going hah.

    but resume wise, as i said, ive only had general labor type jobs. ive had schooling, but it wasnt for audio engineering (will mention later). what could i put on my resume which will make it stand out to them, since all my knowledge is self learned (experimenting and reading up on sites/forums)? i could probably put somewhere that ive had a basic mixing/recording class? would it help to take another class or two on audio?

    "Many large studios are downsizing and many more are diversifying into other areas like video, duplication, replication and radio production so if you have additional skills in diverse areas your chance of getting hired are increased."

    i mentioned schooling earlier, well, im a web design major! :) started mutilating code since i was like 13/14. also really familiar with photoshop as well (though im not artistic, im very comfortable with it). only downside is, i havent been able to finish my degree (financial reasons), but its a priority when i move and get sorted.
  14. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    I just want to shove my oar in and say 2 things.

    1) Know how to solder. I have an intern from the US at the moment, and when I asked her three questions:

    i) do you know how to solder?
    ii) so there is nothing I can tell you about it you don't already know?
    iii) so if I just give you these 128 jack plugs and this cable drum you can make me 64 patch cables?

    and got three YES's, I could have danced with joy.

    2) Gotta disagree with the email thing. 24 hours is JUST reasonable. I am increasingly distressed by the fact that clients and associates think that email deserves an immediate response. That would be a phone call they are thinking of. Not only does it drive me insane when an email to me is followed up an hour later by a chasing mail cc'd to me and one of my colleagues, but given the propensity of emails for distracting one from the task at hand, I find it odd that a client would believe that somebody who responded by return to their email was a responsible supplier; it smacks of not devoting one's full attention to a project.

    Obv if you are chasing work then you should be diligent in checking your job offers. But email as business correspondence I believe 24-48 hours to be fully appropriate response time. A closer relationship with a client should be conducted with real interaction.

    Then confirm it to them in an email. Better still, have your intern do it for ya ;-)[/quote]
  15. onglee

    onglee Guest

    wow. if i had the chance to intern at a recording studio, i wouldn't even waste my time getting there late or talking on the phone with friends. i'd be staying there overtime. i love the atmosphere. there is always so much to learn! if i can wake up everyday just to work in a studio, that would be a dream come true. well, it's coming true. i have a cheap studio to wake up to. not that good, but i guess i'll savor any moment i have.
  16. How do studios look apon the kid who works and learns on their own and record with their own small DAW setup as opposed to the college audio student when it comes to picking interns?
  17. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    The quality of your work should be a given. There are advantages and disadvantages to both which are fairly obvious, e.g. if you had done college audio you might have more experience in live micing than at home, and at home you might have actually completed some worthwhile projects with originality.

    The major thing I would look for once the givens are out the way, is client handling. Neither of these ways of learning prepares somebody for trying to explain to a trumpeter that playing using his own pickup through a Boss stereo delay and taking unbalanced feeds from that is not the best way to work, and making him agree with you and change.

    I have a 2nd engineer with 4 years Pro Tools from one Uni here, and 3 in audio technology, and he graduated with a first. As we use Cubase and he had no idea how to explain the advantages and disadvantages of various working methods to a client at session start, his learning curve was no less steep because of it.

    Consider all the ancillary things that you might have to do in a studio, and always remember that the clients are the most important people to please.....

    As with anything, a hunger for and knowledge of all related skills such as MIDI, all DAWs not just yours, techniques for both jazz and death metal, drum micing techniques, varieties of preamps, compressors, leading engineers' signature techniques, the merits of fibreglass, guitar types, drum types, how to mic a djembe, etc etc etc show that you care about doing a good job, not just the parts of the job you wish to cherry-pick. Genuine enthusiasm for the art not the genre goes a long way.
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