It’s that frightening moment. You trip over a crack in the sidewalk, stumble — and you’re suspended in that breathless place between balance and gravity — but luckily it only lasts a second. You either bust it, or don’t. Well, I’ve discovered that the best way to describe my internship experience has been to equate it to that moment. That scary, quick little moment, when you slip.
Except if that moment lasted an entire semester.
I’ve heard the old saying that suggests pressure is all in the mind, but even when I find myself saying silly little phrases like, there have been “no major slip‐ups,” I wonder why I’m constantly in fear of falling. There are so many banana‐peel moments in the day, from screwing up a coffee order, to disconnecting a call, to using the wrong language in an e‐mail. It’s hard to count all the obstacles in the way of an intern, but it’s also really hard not to notice them. With all these landmines surrounding an intern, how does one ever really get anything done, let alone give it one’s best?
During my day seemingly simple actions are meaningful, every moment there are urgent decisions to be made, and f-a-s-t! When to speak, when to listen. When to knock, when to barge right in. When to ask a question, when to figure it out yourself. Who will answer you, who will yell at you. Who to call back, who to ignore.
I spend my day weighing the pros and cons of each of these choices, and dealing with the consequences. I’ve been invited into meetings and I’ve been politely asked to wait outside. I’ve been commended for my politeness, and I’ve been hollered at for not interrupting the executive’s meetings!
Basically, I’ve been confused.
My team is great about directing me usually, but I’ve been instructed to ASK for direction more too, so I always get what I need to succeed in helping them succeed. Getting direction from supervisors helps me navigate my internship by being proactive, and also helps me feel secure in knowing when to be reactive.
In a no‐risk no‐gain type of world, mistakes are bound to happen. But, who really wants to make mistakes? Well, if you want to gain something, apparently you have to risk something too. The music industry is in a fragile place right now. It’s a risk for even the industry greats at the moment. Anemic sales, corporate downsizing, wah wah wah…
Gravity is pulling faster these days. From the intern to the executives, at the moment we’re all in it together. That really freaky, ice‐is‐melting‐and-we’re‐still‐skating moment.
Swimming lessons, please.
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Sara Rachele, former vocalist and keyboardist for The Love Willows (Decca), has been studying at Berklee since mid 2009. A songwriting and music business major, Sara is the Creative Intern at music publisher BMG/Chrysalis. She is currently living in the East Village with her dog Hank Williams.