Sue Buzzard is a violinist from the east coast currently interning with The Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, CA through the Office of Experiential Learning *

So far, I’m still alive.

Personally, I thrive in pressure situations.  At least, that’s what I hope to prove this week.

I think that as an intern, you don’t realize what responsibilities you hold until they’re staring you in the face.  Like my responsibility with credentials, and how it creates the responsibility of leading a team – the team of volunteers who I train to distribute the credentials correctly.

Today, I was working on a long-term project for Bill (creating the binders of information for each stage – each band’s backline and schedule for the whole weekend) and I had to teach several people how to do basic jobs so that I could leave them to their own devices while working in another location.  I had help on credentials in the morning from Karin, a long-term volunteer (longer term than me, at least), and man was I grateful to have her.  She knew a lot more about predicting things based on past festivals, so her common sense was invaluable.  She was much more calm, cool and collected when faced with some questions than I was, so that helped.

Our typical credential leader wasn’t going to come in that day due to a family emergency, so she stepped in to assist – she had done credentials the previous year, so she was good to go after a quick database lesson.  As the day went on, I delegated tasks to her and left the entering volunteers in her capable, task-filled hands.  Soon I realized that I was in charge of a chain of people who were making decisions under my supervision.  This thought was exciting, but had unforeseen consequences.

At one point, a volunteer came by my office and asked, “do I take direction from you, or from Karin?” And out of context, that question worried me.  Karin had asked the volunteers to move the credentials and store them someplace else, and this volunteer was unsure if I would approve.  Not being sure what Karin was doing or why, I told him not to follow her lead, and a few minuter later, Karin was at my office explaining her process and asking me to tell the volunteer everything was all right.  The task itself was harmless to the credentials, and I had no problem with what Karin was doing once I saw it with my own eyes. I was happy to see this type of back-and-forth communication (or lack thereof) with my own eyes.  Looking back, I should have come to see the situation firsthand when the volunteer came to my office instead of trying to interpret what was happening.  It was great experience.

It was a small moment in my day, but I suddenly realized what levity my word had.  I was the top of the chain, this small chain of volunteer organization; if I was going to put someone in charge of a task in my place, I had to understand what that meant for them – that they had to have the trust and cooperation of everyone I gave them to help out.  It made me feel responsible on one hand, thinking that I could leave a team of people to take care of any situation, but it also made me wary, not knowing firsthand what was going on over there.

I learned a lot today! Delegation rocks!  Just because you’re an intern doesn’t mean you’re a nobody.  If you’re directing a task, you’re the top dog, and you have to take the reins and act like it.

Also, learn to let your trainees go and handle themselves in the big bad world.  Once you’ve overseen a few operations with them, and have a feeling they can handle the process, get back to what needs your attention right then.  Don’t hover! Let them know where to find you if they need you.  You’ll never get anything done babysitting them all day.

I worked all day and had a lovely dinner with the rest of staff and crew: pizza!  With wine and beer, of course.  I felt it was one of the last calm moments before the onslaught of the festival came down on us.  I could tell that the evening had a practiced ease with all the regular festival staff; a familiar moment that happened every year.  A deja vu? I hope I can experience that feeling someday, after being part of a huge event for many years perhaps.

It’s almost tomorrow! That won’t do! Goodbye!

*Reposted with permission from Sue Buzzard


Read Sue’s Other Posts

Necessary Details?

The Dog Days are Just Beginning

Monterey Jazz Festival Intern



Sue Buzzard is a warrior of the acoustic string music revolution. Following her studies in classical and jazz music techniques in her hometown of Buffalo, NY, she studied a plethora of violin sounds at The Berklee College of Music.

Sue graduated with a double degree in Violin Performance and Professional Music in the spring of 2010, and has since been performing and seeking more ways to bring string music to the masses through production and education. Sue is on faculty at The Rivers School Conservatory in Weston starting this fall, where she will teach Jazz Violin.