My name is Emma and I am a fourth year student at the University of Denver, studying Sociology and Media Studies. While enrolled in an internship course, we were asked to discuss what our biggest challenge has been in an internship thus far. Historically, working in music, my biggest challenge has always been trying to find something to do when my supervisor did not have much for me to work on.
I interned as an A&R and Artist Development and Touring intern at RCA records during Summer 2013 and Summer 2014. In between those summers, a massive lawsuit was filed by interns at another Sony organization. The interns lamented that they were being mistreated and misused by their supervisors. Upon my arrival at the Sony building, smack dab in the golden triangle of Beverly Hills, I felt slightly limited. I was a year older and more experienced than I was the previous summer, but unable to do some of the tasks that filled my time. Luckily, I sat in close proximity to my supervisor, Sebastien. Sebastien was learning the ins and outs of the touring industry from his supervisor, the SVP of Artist Development and Touring at RCA. I began paying attention the way Sebastien spoke to people over the phone. My observations eventually transformed into spending my time watching Sebastien craft emails, book flight information, and plan tour routing for several popular bands. Not only did I learn through observation, but this opened the line of communication between me, Sebastien, and his supervisor.
A year later, I found myself working for Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver, Colorado. Swallow Hill is a non-profit organization, dedicated to creating community through music. I worked as a Production and Promotion intern under the supervision of the Assistant Concert Director. Not only was Hanna a hoot and a half, but she taught the interns about concert advancing, rider and contract execution, and event planning. Our team of three interns helped to execute over 22 concerts for Swallow Hill. A great deal of our job consisted of playing a game we liked to call “hurry up and wait.” We got to work around 9:00 am depending on the show, and left the venue by 12:00 am the next day. Though this schedule sounds tiresome, after setting up hospitality for the artist and performing random tasks prior to their arrival, much our time was spent waiting for the show to happen. Instead of playing on my phone or reading from my iPad, I spent my time carefully watching and learning about how Hanna does her job. I constantly asked her questions about what she was doing. My curiosity opened our line of communication. Once she realized I was interested in tour management, she set up mini-meetings with several tour managers during spare time on show days.
It is not uncommon for students at DU to participate in internships. I have friends who tell me horror stories about being so bored at their internships, that they plan out their bathroom trips because it’s something new to do. However, if the challenge is overcoming office boredom, consider this “waste of time,” a blessing in disguise.