Embarking on my internship search, I figured somehow, someway all the informational pamphlets thrown at me in the previous semester would start making sense.
Initially, the process seemed like it would be simple as I combed the internship database for at least 10 internships in New York City. The database is easy to use and has neat features. You can upload your documents (resume & cover letters) and have them emailed through the database. I went into this search with specific areas of the music business in mind: A&R, Publishing, Touring and Marketing. Touring basically was non-existent in NY, so that left publishing and A&R, which apparently everyone and their mother wanted to do (as was said by one of my interviewers).
Following the instructions of the internship guide, I created an “internship log” document in Microsoft Word where I put all the information about my search including:
- name of company
- contact person
- title of internship
- correspondence regarding the internship
I applied to approximately 11 sites and scored 6 interviews. Of the 6 interviews, 3 sites said yes to having me as an intern, 1 interview could not be scheduled so it never happen, and the other 2 sites still haven’t responded.
Occasionally, I searched outside the database to browse other internships, but for the most part I stayed within the database. I even had a few friends shop my resume, which led to helpful resume reviews, making my resume even stronger and more succinct. In the end I interviewed with Warner Chappell Publishing, EMI Publishing, Cherry Lane Publishing, Atlantic Records, and Sony Music among others.
The actual interviewing process was more rigorous than I anticipated. It opened my eyes to the presence and absence of certain basic social graces from company to company. Some interviewers would follow me out to the door, a few didn’t. Some seemed excited about me being there, others were poker-faced. Some sent me follow up emails or apologies for a specific interviewer being absent, and others didn’t. That said, often times the way the interview felt was a reflection of how the companies responded thereafter. One of the positions I wanted a lot turned out to be one of the most unprofessional interviews. Actually, two of the companies that didn’t respond were the top two positions on my list
Based on these experiences, I recommend applying for internships early. Research the companies you are interested in in-depth so that you don’t stall when answering questions in pre-screening interviews (like I did, but recovered well). It’s important to send follow up emails, as all contacts are good contacts irrespective of the outcome of the interview…you just never know. Be persistent but not annoying. Be professional. Be punctual. Be yourself, and please be polite. Most of all don’t be disappointed if you don’t get the “perfect” internship you hoped for. Just be glad you have one in the music industry. It may very well show you an area you were unfamiliar with, and potentially be the gateway to the dream job you had wanted in the first place. It’s all about learning and creating opportunities for oneself.
I’m bringing the tools from my Berklee degree and previous work experience to the job hunt. I’m eager and willing to work, doing as much as I can to get the job done. From my internship I hope to gain knowledge about an area of the business I am unfamiliar with. In the long run, I want to impress my bosses and hope my work ethic will lead me to a job after my internship ends.
Mario Guthrie is a Jamaican vocalist in his final semester (8th) at Berklee. A Music Business / Songwriting major, currently interning at Warner/Chappell Music, he also performs as the reggae-soul singer Mario Evon.