Berklee Blogs hears from Ben Scudder, a Music Business major and current intern at The Echo Nest. In his first blog, Ben illustrates the importance of starting early, being organized, and sprinting through the finish line throughout the entire internship search process.

During my internship search, I made a conscious effort to be proactive from the very beginning of the semester in which my search began.  For me, that meant beginning my search in January 2012 for the internship I started in June 2012.  I recommend students first consult the OEL to discuss steps necessary to secure an internship as well as tips that can get them ahead of everyone else.  For example, checking out resources like Intern Sushi or the Berklee internship database early on give people the advantage of having time to apply to many more opportunities.  These databases are ever changing meaning applicants must be actively seeking new listings on a daily basis if they wish to have the best chance of finding a great internship. 

Beyond checking out these resources, reaching out to people in personal networks is also extremely important and effective.  There are many great internship positions waiting to be filled that aren’t on the Berklee database, so I encourage students to go out there and advocate for themselves in these other places.  My first internship at Universal Music Publishing Group last summer was secured independently because I met the Senior VP the year before at a student-networking event.  This leads me to another point:  staying in touch with your network is critical!  If connections know someone looking for internships/work, the word gets around and they have a good chance of getting selected if they put themselves out there.  I recommend that 15-20 internships be applied for, and that applicants be persistent with follow up calls.  I would not have secured my interviews had I not called my internship sites to ask about my application status.  Resumes and applications simply get buried in the mix, where hundreds of them pile up.  Applicants will stand out by being persistent and dedicated, which puts them in a much better position for candidacy.

During my application process this time around, I came to the OEL with a few different companies in mind.  I ended up getting selected to intern at my first choice company early on, The Echo Nest, but also had planned on applying to the Harry Fox Agency in New York.  I applied to several other companies listed on the database.  Excited by the uncertainty of my summer plans, I could have ended up in New York again, in Chicago, L.A., or Boston.  It was important for me to realize that my plans could have changed at any moment, so until I received my confirmation at The Echo Nest I was ready to move anywhere.  I only sent a handful of applications out before being accepted as an intern at The Echo Nest, so I never made it to my goal of 15-20 applications.  Despite the fact that I ended up staying in the Boston area I was excited to know that I was essentially job searching across the country, a step that is shaping the very course of my career for years to come.  Every step we take as interning students in this critical time period determines where we end up.  This is something we should all be truly on fire about, make the best of in all ways, and seek to make a positive impact on those we work with.

I feel like I know the fundamentals of a good resume at this point.  Working with the Career Development Center helped me refine my understanding of these points and made me see my own writing in a different way.  Being concise, yet making the most of each word is critical.  Nobody wants to read a wordy resume, but it must have substance.  I find that consulting 2 or 3 friends or family members with good writing skills and who know you well is another great way to get positive feedback.  It’s important to have several sets of eyes when it comes to proofreading.  Sometimes what we think make sense in our writing comes across as confusing to others.  Concise bullets points and use of active words were ideas I used based on feedback from my outside sources.  My proofreaders and the CDC convinced me that I didn’t have these elements in my first draft cover letter/resume and it served as great motivation to improve.

I managed my internship search by making a list of companies that I applied for, indicated the dates on which I sent out my application materials to each, and then indicated a date 10 days later on which to follow up.  I made calls, sent emails, and kept a log of all responses I received from these efforts.  After interviews, I sent a thank you note to interviewers and expressed gratitude for the opportunities I was given.  Using the OEL database was helpful in this process because it was easy to navigate.  I found that the search function helped me find the right type of internship.  The favorites tab also allowed me to keep track of the internships I was applying for, and companies I was interacting with.  In certain applications, such as for the Harry Fox Agency internship, I was led to their main website to fill out the application rather than on the database.  This was the only time I applied outside the database, though the internship was still listed on the database itself.    I didn’t end up applying for opportunities on other sites like Intern Sushi only because I was accepted to my first choice early on.

When my entry-level job hunt begins, I will make use of the tools provided me by the CDC and the OEL.  There is great information on making the best possible resume and cover letter, but also tips on how to interview well.  I plan on keeping a journal when job hunting begins, listing all aspects of my desired career and comparing each potential job to these criteria.  My goal is to find the job that will progress me along the farthest, apply to this one first, and pursue it with diligence.  Whether or not I am hired at this point, my job search will continue and I will use interview experiences and reflection to better prepare me for the next job opportunity.  If I repeat this process every time I apply for a job, it will gradually become more comfortable each time and my professionalism will rise.

I expect my internship to be a great entry to the music technology field for me.  I expect to learn specific marketing techniques for technology-driven business, develop an understanding of the Echo Nest platform and products, learn the process of selling an intangible product, and learn how to research/data mine in the most effective manner possible.  Through all of this I hope to contribute to the development of the Echo Nest platform to the best of my ability, develop professionally, and make great connections along the way.