Does anyone actually let interns do anything but clean?

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Dave Nutz
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Does anyone actually let interns do anything but clean?

Post by Dave Nutz » Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:51 pm

so, my story is that ive had many internships, finished recording school, done a fair amount of work on my own, run a music program at a youth center, and had a small number of freelance gigs for friends.

In my experience, any internship ive had has basically become an unpaid receptionist position. This goes for the small places and the big multi-room facilities. Almost any time ive proven myself, ive been rewarded with desk duty or more cleaning, or a little heart to heart with the manager explaining that i shouldnt be doing the job of the assistant, and an invitation out the door.
For the record, im not expecting an engineer to say "theres the console, dont fuck anything up", and for him/her to walk out of the room and leave me with clients, but i am capable of keeping my mouth shut, observing, taking care of what the client/engineer/etc needs, and it is never met with the kind of attitude that people say should exist in a studio. Everywhere ive worked, the vibe i get is that nobody has any faith in new people.

Why have interns if you NEVER plan on giving them an opportunity?
feel free to disagree or discuss.
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Post by JGriffin » Sat Nov 25, 2006 1:43 pm

Once while interning for Jim Diamond I was allowed to stand between the guitarist and his amp, with one finger on the faceplate of the amp and another finger on a metal bit of the guitar, to kill the hum from the amp while the guy tracked a solo. Then I got to empty the wastebasket from the john. Those were the highlights of that particular internship.


Our interns at the studio make dubs, order food, stock the fridge. Sometimes they set up mics if i'm slammed and need a hand. I don't have an assistant and do most of everything myself usually, but the interns help out in the departments they're most needed, which in our particular facility is the dubbing department. If there's downtime they are encouraged to play with the gear. You take from one of our internsips what you put into it. Some of our interns jump on the computers at every opportunity and demonstrate some great skills and fire and personality, and some surf the internet or write their screenplays when they have any downtime. We have interns we're happy to see go, and some we're sad to see go, and some we hire full-time. Bet you can't guess which are which...
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

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Kilroy
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Post by Kilroy » Sun Nov 26, 2006 3:59 pm

my internship was pretty cool, i got to do a lot of tracking and mostly was the assistant engineer. I rarely had to do any cleaning or anything like that, but i would do it anyway even when they wouldnt ask. I had to order food once...

dwlb, hire me as your assistant :P

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Post by JGriffin » Sun Nov 26, 2006 7:23 pm

Kilroy wrote:dwlb, hire me as your assistant :P
dude, if they'd let me...
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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Post by @?,*???&? » Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:05 am

It's an interest level thing. I get tons of students saying this is what they want to do and they end up spending only a few days at the studio and they usually don't want to give up other things in their lives to spend mundane hours 'observing' the sessions. Too much not about them for kids in their 20's.

I'll have to ask Jim about the above mentioned runner situation next time I see him at Motor City Brewing company. Hilarious. He could have avoided that with a piece of wire extending from the plug of the instrument into the players sock, but hazing does occur in the strangest ways!

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lobstman
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Re: Does anyone actually let interns do anything but clean?

Post by lobstman » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:01 pm

Dave Nutz wrote:Everywhere ive worked, the vibe i get is that nobody has any faith in new people.
You're right, we don't.

Try looking at things from your employer's perspective. Remember- it's your internship, but it's my BUSINESS. If you screw something up it comes back on ME, so I'm not going to stick my neck out for anyone unless I'm 110% sure they can hack it. I've found that my extreme distrust of new people is usually well founded, you wouldn't believe the outrageous lies people have told to get a foot in the door only to choke hard under fire, leaving me holding the bag.

A week ago, I had a new guy working for me on a corporate gig who'd been recommended by a mutual friend, a guy I respect a lot. That got the new guy past a lot of hurdles right off the bat, but I still watched him like a hawk because even though he's experienced and has a good work ethic he STILL didn't know all the fine points of our gear, our methods of working, etc. I was glad I did, because he wasn't familiar with our particular brand of wireless microphones and failed to lock the power switch properly. No big deal, I showed him how to do it and now he's good to go- I like the guy and look forward to working with him in the future, but I never forget that it's MY ass if there's a problem. I only delegate real responsibility to people I trust completely. Even then, I double check.

Moving up in the world is a slow process, and it usually happens by accident- your boss is short staffed, and they throw you in because they don't have a choice.

All that said, I do like educating people- showing them things bit by bit and giving them small tasks and gradually increasing their level of responsibility. However, that's a bonus for when I have the time. Getting the job done is priority #1.
Dave Nutz wrote:Why have interns if you NEVER plan on giving them an opportunity?
Because slavery is illegal, but interns are the next best thing to free labor- they'll do anything, and there's an inexhaustible supply if you get one that won't.

Bill Clinton had opportunities for his interns, but I digress...
Steve Albini used to like it

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Post by xonlocust » Mon Nov 27, 2006 3:26 pm

i was fortunate when i interned, that they let me set up mics, do punches and offer input (when asked for it). i definitely did my share of fly-on-the-walling as well though. come to think of it, i never had to do anything rediculous, no toilet cleaning or anything - i had it good i guess. i just tried to forsee what'd be coming up and whenever possible start doing it, or rather offer if they'd like me to do that...

the studios now out of business though, so maybe i had something to do with that! :)

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Post by Chris_Avakian » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:29 am

sometimes i have an "intern" (i'll use that term loosly) run transports for me when im feeling a bit lazy. he cleans, fetches the mics after a session, and keeps things in order. i dont mark on my board at all, so sometimes he keeps a pad of paper handy to write track sheets out for me.

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Post by cgarges » Tue Nov 28, 2006 2:36 am

Lobstman brings up an excellent point.

The times that I've had interns, I've always started by saying, "Well, the band's gettin ghjere at 10AM. Get here when you think you should be here." I'v enever had an intern beat me to the studio, but the ones who show up after the band don't last longer than that one session. Until there are NO PEOPLE LEFT with the motivation to take some initiative and there are things that I absolutely HAVE to have an intern around for, I'll be picky about interns. I'd rather not have an intern than just have one who cleans, but I'd also rather not have an intern that have someone who's in the any or causes any sort of problems or discomfort fo rmy clients.

Chris Garges
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Post by @?,*???&? » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:36 am

cgarges wrote:Lobstman brings up an excellent point.

The times that I've had interns, I've always started by saying, "Well, the band's gettin ghjere at 10AM. Get here when you think you should be here." I'v enever had an intern beat me to the studio, but the ones who show up after the band don't last longer than that one session. Until there are NO PEOPLE LEFT with the motivation to take some initiative and there are things that I absolutely HAVE to have an intern around for, I'll be picky about interns. I'd rather not have an intern than just have one who cleans, but I'd also rather not have an intern that have someone who's in the any or causes any sort of problems or discomfort fo rmy clients.

Chris Garges
Charlotte, NC
Yes! Hilairous fact of under-motivated people!

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Post by JGriffin » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:18 pm

@?,*???&? wrote: I'll have to ask Jim about the above mentioned runner situation next time I see him at Motor City Brewing company. Hilarious. He could have avoided that with a piece of wire extending from the plug of the instrument into the players sock, but hazing does occur in the strangest ways!
It was fifteen years ago, I would be surprised if he remembers.
no toilet-cleaning or anything...
Hell, I had to clean the johns at my second job as an engineer!
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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Post by RockyTCR » Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:16 am

You usually know when an intern will make it longer than the normal intern when they keep putting in the effort they first showed. No matter what the skill level is, if they kick there ass and work hard, I'll teach them anything...they deserve it.

You know the ones that are lazy and won't last past a month. Who thinks getting into this that its normal hours and doesn't require hard work to separate yourself from the rest.

The new guy always will be screwed from the beginning, they want your job in the end...Think about it like that and they're your enemy. Crappy way to think but...

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Post by AnalogElectric » Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:13 pm

I'll throw him or her at the console, front and center, on the very first day. That's after we get mics set-up and levels... then after I'm at the desk, we're a few takes in, and I show the person the general ins and outs... it's all him or her for a little while. I'll tag-team it. I'll tell the band ahead of time just so they know but I'll sit right next to the intern as they go ahead and do it.

He or she will usually be very surprised and a little scared but once they're into it, it's very hard to pull them away, heh.

That's similar to how I got started, plus when I'm freelancing at a studio I'm unfamiliar with, I'm still thrust in that position but catch on fast.

Obviously not all studios do that, especially if there's a head engineer, second engineer, and producer running the game, all at once. Then it's "too many cooks..." But if it's me running it and an intern, I'll definitely give them a forward shot.

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Post by Chrisbrownsound » Fri Dec 01, 2006 1:32 am

dwlb wrote:I was allowed to stand between the guitarist and his amp, with one finger on the faceplate of the amp and another finger on a metal bit of the guitar, to kill the hum from the amp while the guy tracked a solo.
That's a good gag!

We used to send new kids off to ask someone for "the long stand" or "the big weight".

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Post by JGriffin » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:15 am

Chrisbrownsound wrote:
dwlb wrote:I was allowed to stand between the guitarist and his amp, with one finger on the faceplate of the amp and another finger on a metal bit of the guitar, to kill the hum from the amp while the guy tracked a solo.
That's a good gag!

We used to send new kids off to ask someone for "the long stand" or "the big weight".
Hey, if we weren't hazed we wouldn't have reason to haze the new kids, right?
"Jeweller, you've failed. Jeweller."

"Lots of people are nostalgic for analog. I suspect they're people who never had to work with it." ? Brian Eno

All the DWLB music is at http://dwlb.bandcamp.com/

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