Berklee Blogs follows Kayleigh Mill, a Music Business major and participant in Berklee’s Summer Internship Program in New York City. Today, Kayleigh tells us what sort of mindset prospective interns need to cultivate in order to land their dream internship.
Say You’re in school and you only have two, maybe three, more years until you’re pushed into the real world – a place where a degree will not guarantee you a job. You’re best course of action is to find an internship, which can be competitive and difficult to find. So what do you do?
In a word: research. I’ve gathered information from my own personal research, my experiences securing two internships in New York, as well as my peers’ experiences finding their internships, and compiled the most useful and universal guidelines for locking in the perfect company for you.
Companies are looking for interns that already have some kind of experience in their field. This may seem unfair to those who don’t have work experience, but there are ways to gain experience that don’t require an internship or hired position. The best way to get experience is through your school and community – Clubs, class projects, endeavors with classmates and friends, etc.
As soon as you know what your goals are, start gaining skills and experience that will help you in your search for internships and employment.
Plan to start applying to internships four months before your scheduled start date. That means you should be researching* companies five to sixth months ahead. Many companies begin the intern hiring process early and fill up fast, so the sooner you’re in contact with them, the better.
Remember that it’s better to contact a company before they are hiring than after.
Persistent, but not annoying. The initial email should include the cover letter in the body (unless otherwise specified) and your resume attached. Be formal, and focus on what skills you can bring to the table.
After the initial email, the accepted wait time for a follow-up is generally a week and a half to two weeks. Often the person in charge of hiring interns is flooded with emails daily, which means they sometimes fall through the cracks. If they don’t respond, don’t assume they aren’t interested; send them a quick reminder (with the original email), and more than likely they’ll get back to you.
Be Interview Ready
I spent HOURS researching how to interview properly. Anything on paper, I’m fairly confident with, but my social skills have taken a long time to develop and are a constant struggle. My best advice is to prepare as much as possible beforehand, and to know the basics, such as:
- Dress appropriately – Overdressing is better than underdressing, but in the music industry, you don’t necessarily have to wear a suit (in fact, it might be better to go slightly less formal, depending on the company)
- KNOW THE COMPANY – I can’t stress this enough…learn everything you can about it; what they do, who they’re associated with, even find out who’s going to interview you and research them personally.
- Memorize your answers – Stumbling over your words is not a great way to make a first impression. Think of a few stories that showcase your abilities and loosely memorize answers to common interview questions.
- Relax! – As difficult as this seems, it can make a huge difference in how you come across to the interviewer. A good tip is to remember that the interviewer is an employee doing their job, and, at one point, they were on the other side of the interview process.
After the interview, be sure to send an email thanking the interviewer for their time. It shows that you are respectful and that you care about the company.
Don’t forget to include an “I look forward to hearing from you,” which can help keep the conversation going.
Throughout this entire process, you should be looking for companies that are a good fit for YOU. Many times, potential interns focus on what they can bring to the company and filling in their resume, but just as important is the benefits you will receive from the company. If you can, find former interns or talk to employees who work with interns to get a better idea what the day to day will be like. The more information you have, the better match you can make; the better the match, the better the experience.
If you have any questions or are in need of advice, please feel free to email me at musikleighATgmailDOTcom!
Be sure to follow Kayleigh via Twitter @musikleighalive
Kayleigh Mill is in New York for the summer with two internships in the music industry. She’s been at Berklee for two years with one to go until she graduates with a Music Business degree, and has embraced the opportunities the college has to offer. While at school, she runs the Berklee Songwriters Club as well as the Ski/Snowboard Club, is on the board of the Berklee Fitness Club, and writes for The Groove.
After graduation, Kayleigh plans to move to New York to pursue her entrepreneurial ambitions, as well as experience as much of the music industry as possible. You can read her full blog at musikleighalive.wordpress.com or email her at email@example.com.