I am currently interning with a start-up called Artist Solutions. This internship is an incredible hands-on experience, one that a class cannot offer. I knew that an internship would be a huge commitment, but I initially underestimated how much time should be devoted. Turns out, the more time I put in, the better the experience I receive. Still, I am spread quite thin with my involvement at Berklee, with classes, writing/editing for The Music Business Journal, working promotions for The Red Room @ Café 939, and gigging, all while retaining some semblance of a social life. I’ve learned to manage my time better, making sacrifices to devote more time to specific activities.
Certain advantages and disadvantages are apparent when interning with a business start-up. I’ve found the most rewarding aspect is helping the business make significant progress and knowing my contributions play a major role in its success.
On the plus side, start-ups and smaller companies give you the opportunity to work closely with your supervisor(s). You can create stronger working relationships and get to know each other on a more personal level. This is crucial when building your network of references. Fewer employees also means more essential responsibilities assigned to you, as opposed to being the stereotypical coffee connoisseur. With enhanced responsibility, you gain a better understanding for every role of the business, as opposed to one specific role that is there for an intern to fill.
The increased responsibility, however, can be overwhelming. With the majority of the company’s needs and expectations resting heavily on your shoulders, it can create an insurmountable workload. If the business start-up is in its earliest stages, it might not have a set system of how to function and may lack workflow consistency. Basically, you could work on a varying project-to-project basis, which can feel disorganized and erratic. If the staff is small, the opportunity to network and make a large amount of new contacts may be diminished.
Through my time at Artist Solutions, I quickly learned to eradicate “I can’t,” and “I don’t know how” from my vocabulary. Now, I’m resourceful. If I don’t know how to do something, I immediately seek out the information. The additional knowledge makes me a better intern and an asset to the company.
I learned not to hide any talents or interests. In addition to music, I’m interested in writing and websites. By sharing these interests with my supervisors, it helped them tailor assignments to my abilities and interests. For instance, I was assigned to write a press release in collaboration with my supervisors. The press release was for our vocal health campaign, FitVoice, which encourages the importance of a healthy speaking voice. ABC News and Good Morning America loved the story and picked it up immediately. Had I not shared my interest in writing, I would have missed the opportunity to be involved with such a successful project.
Ultimately, the size of the company you desire to intern for should be based solely on personal preference. If you’re not sure, you can do multiple internships over your Berklee career to explore various structures and work environments.
Overall, be ready to do some serious work for your internship, regardless of whether it’s a business start-up or well-established company. During your internship, if you feel bored, or wish you would learn more, it’s your responsibility to change. Ask to be more involved. Tell your supervisor exactly what you want from your internship. Make the most of your experience, because if you work hard and genuinely enjoy your contributions to the company, your efforts will be noticed.
Nick Susi is a Music Business/Management student at Berklee College of Music, interning with Artist Solutions for the Spring 2011 semester. Nick is reachable via email: nsusi at berklee dot net. You can also find him on Facebook and LinkedIn.