Here are a couple of tips that might help insure things go smoothly on your first foray into the world of interships and professional non-paid activities. These concern mainly the professional activities, through Musitechnic, such as festivals where you would be on stage helping the FOH and/or doing setup and teardown. These are very enriching experiences that allow you to quickly familiarize yourself with the world of “live” and make contacts in the industry. Some of this advice might seem obvious but read this carefully and it will be the key to a successful internship … I promise! You want the people working there to remember you for the right reasons and maybe even hire you one day …
- Arrive on time and at the right place. Get the information in advance and plan for all possiblities. Check your mail regularly and keep your phone turned on.
- Be clean, smell good and smile. The first impression is important! Clearly identify yourself to your on-site contact.
- Be in good shape. Don’t show up with a hangover. The first day could be really tough and probably very long.
- Remember everyone’s names and what their jobs are. This way you can avoid asking the lighting person to get you a sandwich
- Find out in advance what kind of work you could be doing. (refer back to #1 … read your emails and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you’re not sure). If you might be doing sound or helping out the soundperson, find out what type of console will be there and download/read the manual …. at least the quick start!
- Find out what kind of show it is and what the line-up is. This will help you understand what people are talking about, how to proceed and avoid surprises.
- Dress in black from head to toe. No logos or large graphics (unless you are wearing Musitechnic shirts) and avoid shorts or clothing that is too casual. Don’t forget to wear a good pair of comfortable shoes.
- If you have a good flashlight or headlamp and a couple of tools, you will pass as a real pro! (tape, marker, screwdriver, notebook … yes you will need to take notes when doing the patchs!)
- Speak respectfully to everyone including the artists, the techs and your fellow interns. Be polite and helpful. Make them want to hire you!
- Get off the damn phone. It is extremely irritating and you could be needed at any second. Besides, you are probably missing what is going on around you and you’ll look like an idiot when asked to do something.
- Ask when you can take a break and let your bosses know when you do so they don’t waste their time looking for you.
- Be aware of what is going on around you!!! Be pro-active and ready to quickly react …. In other words “be on the ball”
- Swallow your pride!! Interns never get the best jobs. You might end up doing some surprising tasks such as hanging lights, sweeping the stage or getting coffee for the artists.
- Leave your “sensitive nature” at home. Harden up!! Live work is very stressful and you’re always in a rush. Your bosses might not use “please” and “thank yous” and might forget your name.
- Take initiative and don’t hesitate to do things but be careful … don’t go too fast when moving stuff around on the stage (see #16)
- Someone will have to mark where the amps, mics, monitors etc go after each soundcheck. If you are on stage, they might give you a bunch of different coloured tape to tag all the placements so that when the change-over of bands happens, you will know where to put things and more importantly, the musicians will know where to find their gear
- Bring your own water and lunch. Even if they say it is provided, it might not happen.
- Know how to roll a cable properly even if you’re not super fast at first. If a tech sees you rolling a cable over your elbow you will probably asked to leave on the spot …. or at least made to feel crappy about it (see #13).
- Be observant ! If you get the feeling that you aren’t being useful, unless told otherwise, you can look around and see what needs doing. Ask questions but avoid being insistant ! The people around you will be busy! Show that you are interested, humble, curious and that you want to learn.
- Your real employer is not only your direct boss but indirectly it is the artists as well. Think of them and the stress they are going through. Do what you can do to make them feel comfortable, in your limited capacity, while still doing your job. The goal is that the public, the artists and your boss are happy at the end of the evening.
- Ask to see the PatchList if you are working with the soundperson or stage manager. It will give you an idea how the night is going to develop. For example the number of DIs and mics neccessary, the number of artists on the stage and where they will be situated, the schedule and hours of soundcheck etc.
- Use the opportunity to make contacts. Talk with those people who are doing what you want to do and mention that you are looking for work. In short … Network. But never do this at the expense of the job you are supposed to be doing!! (see #19)
- During the show you should stay on the side of the stage (unless you’re doing the FOH … obviously) and watch what is going on. Be ready to pick up a fallen mic, replug a cable etc. You could stand by the stage monitor person to see how they work … but remember …don’t be a pain … they are working.
- In short be discreet but efficient. If you absolutely have to go on stage for some reason, be tactful and quick about it. You are not the star!
- At the end of the evening say goodbye to everyone. Hopefully you’ve done a good days work… bravo ! Everyone will be tired but happy with your work so be sure to properly bid your adieu to end of the night off on a good note.
Good luck on your professional activity !