The most memorable part of my LA Program internship experience was the task of actually securing an internship. Turns out, even though you’re interning for free, it is really hard applying for internships, especially for companies across the country. Like many other people I knew in the program, I applied to what felt like a zillion internships in hopes that I would secure one. In many cases I never heard back from companies and other sites put me through a whole slew of interviews. I ended up having a roommate before I actually knew where I was going to be interning! This was nerve-racking, but trust me, if you can stay focused, determined and not get discouraged, you will land the right internship for you.
With the move-in date for LA looming, I worried about not securing anything yet. I felt desperate enough to apply to internships outside of my main industry focus. One month away from moving I was offered an internship over the phone. I had to give an answer within the week. I figured I should just take it because it was getting close to the deadline and I had no other offers in sight, but in the back of my mind I knew that I would not be happy with this internship. I ended up having to make a difficult phone call to turn the offer down and the interviewer was not happy with me. I thought that my internship experience was over before it began. With a few interviews left, I made the move to California without a secured internship.
Everyone at the internship office continued to tell me not to worry and that everything was going to be fine. Musicians can be especially critical of themselves and can be perfectionists, which is a very common quality among my peers. It was very hard for me to have applied to so many places and not have locked in where I was interning before I moved.
The most important thing I think I did, during such a stressful time, was present myself as positive as I could in the final interviews. It is very hard for some people to talk on the phone, let alone interview on the phone. Personally, I am much better interacting in person. This was a perk of finally being in LA.
Everyone always tells you to dress up for an interview, make sure you know where to go, be on time, bring your resume, and many other logistical aspects of an interview, but I think the actual interaction is just as, if not more, important. Your overall attitude can affect the final outcome of an interview the most. What worked for me was to be enthusiastic and friendly, eager to be a part of the music industry and yet not over-confident. The interviewer wants to get an idea of what it would be like to work with you, which goes way beyond what you are wearing.
Finally, my perseverance paid off. After a few phone calls and emails with an artist management company, I received a call asking if I could interview in person at an upcoming performance at the Greek Theater. I received tickets and a backstage pass to the show and made sure to show up early. I was supposed to meet the manager but I had the hardest time finding him. I met the tour manager, the office people, and the actual band, but there was no sign of the manager.
Eventually the manager walked to into the green room. He walked up to me and asked me two questions, which were “Are you Scott?” and “Can you start Tuesday?” It was certainly the most interesting interview experience I have had, but he assured me that he knew I was more than capable. All of our emails and calls relayed my personality (it pays to follow-up) and he thought I seemed to fit well with everyone who worked there. I left the concert relieved and excited to start my new position. What an experience the LA program had been already and I had only actually been in LA for a week.
For anyone worried about securing an internship, stay positive, determined, and focused. Berklee did a very good job preparing us for the work and even if it takes a little longer than you expect, you will land something. Make sure to use all the resources you have access to. Search the internship database more than once to make sure you don’t miss any of the available internships and make sure to ask the internships coordinators for help if you need it. They are a great source of guidance and help. They can also steer you in the right direction of how to interview and present yourself to a prospective employer.
Last, but certainly not least, stay true to what you want to do for an internship. Do not settle for an internship you are not interested in. The LA program is a great way to experience a possible career, but because it’s for college credit, it does cost money. To get your money’s worth, you absolutely have to make the most of it in order to really experience what you are interested in. You will not enjoy the program if you just go through the motions. In the event you thought your internship would be good but turned out not to be what you thought, you should also seek out an internship coordinator. They are there to help and can help work out issues.
Good luck to anyone applying!
Scott Sapcariu, LA Program participant (Summer 2009), is the Digital Assets Supervisor for Avenue Records in Los Angeles. Contact Scott via email: ssapcariu at berklee dot net.