How to Get a Summer Musical Internship in 8 Simple Steps
Each summer or vacation break you spend as a music intern is an important stepping-stone along your musical career path. If you’ve never had one before, now’s the time to get ready for this invaluable work experience.
Once you’ve identified relevant musical internships, it’s time to employ the strategies necessary to land one.
1. Find the right fit, without being too picky
There are dream internships, and then there are realistic internships that provide valuable information, experience, and networking. The key to getting a summer internship that aligns with your goals is to find the right fit (something music-related), without getting too picky (you might not get to be the personal assistant for a top music executive just yet).
While you should always apply for your “dream” positions, you should also apply for positions that aren’t as appealing but still provide valuable industry exposure and experience.
2. Apply well before the deadline
It’s always best to submit your application well before the closing deadline. Getting it in at the last minute can be viewed as a sign that you’re a procrastinator, tend to be unprepared, or that the internship wasn’t a priority for you. None of those makes a positive impact on prospective employers.
3. Don’t be shy about leveraging personal connections
There is no doubt that the music industry is almost as much about who you know as what you’re capable of. Musical talent abounds. Unless you’re the rare protégé, connections and personal referrals can be necessary forces to get your name and application in front of the right faces.
Don’t be afraid to use connections, or your connections’ connections, to help sell your capabilities. Once you have the internship position, you will need to prove your mettle through hard work, talent, and dedication.
4. Highlight your experience without exaggerating
The desire to embellish your work and niche experience is natural since you want to be a strong contender. However, everyone understands that most college students lack a music career’s worth of experience. That’s why you’re applying for internships in the first place.
You have about two decades of life experience, so carefully examine past jobs, your skill sets, volunteer work you’ve done, etc. Honestly highlight the skills, experience, and talents you have exhibited thus far, and how they relate to the internship position. If you’re stuck, go back and ask people with whom you’ve worked for their observations on the skills and talents you brought to the job and where they felt you succeeded most.
5. Avoid the temptation to “mass apply”
Read each company’s internship application requirements, requests, additional necessary paperwork, etc., and apply accordingly. The temptation to mass apply (using the same cover letter, resume, essay, or audition video) may be tempting, but that could also mean failing to follow a company’s specific instructions. Make each application as customized as possible and it will stand out from those who use the general, mass application approach.
6. Create a career-oriented website and social media profiles
One way to stand out from those who use boiler-plate résumé and cover letter templates is to create your own, online profile. You can design very simple but professional websites for free or for a nominal fee. This is also a good time to clean up existing social media accounts or create new ones specifically dedicated to your professional persona. Creating a YouTube channel that highlights your talents, gifts, or working musical experience also elevates interest around your application.
Giving the HR staff something more personal to look at can make a big difference. You’ll feel more “real” and authentic to them than the average, paper-based applicant.
7. Interview like a professional
If you’ve never participated in a professional interview before, it’s time to practice. Ideally, you’ve already connected with your college’s career center to learn more about potential internship possibilities. They can also help you prepare for interviews, often conducting mock interviews that build confidence for the real thing. Recording them is a great idea, so you can see yourself afterwards, and practice improving where you think you need it.
Read 14 Interview Tips for Landing Your Summer Music Job to learn more about how to participate in a successful interview process.
8. Say Thank You
Once your application is in, and you’ve moved through the interview channels, send handwritten thank-you notes via snail mail to those you met or who interviewed you along the way. Yes. Handwritten. (You’ll really stand out.) In fact, bring an attractive notecard, and a stamped envelope and write your note within 15-20 minutes after your interview so it stays fresh in your mind. Be sure to mention something the interviewer said that was insightful or useful to you, and why. (That will show them you paid attention. Plus, everyone likes being genuinely complimented. The key is to be "genuine.") Then address the envelope and drop it in the nearest mailbox. Even if you don’t get the job, that extra dose of courtesy may be the straw that helps you land an internship or job with them the next time around.