It’s a funny thing, interning. Given enough time, you’ll start to get used to perpetually being “the intern” – and subconsciously start to accept it. The job market is so crowded that you’ll be relieved ‘just to be considered’ or ‘just to get a foot in the door’. But there comes a time where enough is enough.
Right now I’m just about to celebrate my first anniversary of interning full-time. It also coincides fairly well with the end of my current internship. After getting so used to this 3-month cycle of applying to a million jobs, interviewing for a handful and then landing one, I started this week to gear up for it once again. Filled in the internship application forms for a couple of major labels. Had an interview for an internship for an indie label (which as yet I haven’t heard from, so cross your fingers and toes for me) and started adding “and please, God, let me get another internship” to the ends of my fictional bed time prayers.
Then yesterday I had a slight turning point. You might remember me saying that I’ve picked up some work from other departments, specifically digital retail. Yesterday they advertised for an internship vacancy and naturally I jumped through all the hoops to put my name into the hat. Our wonderful, fantastic, incredible HR girl Ray called me and said that there were various company regulations and laws that prevented me from doing a departmental transfer as an intern. But then she said a few words that really shook my world upside down: “You don’t need to intern any more, you have enough experience. You should stop doing them and go for a real job instead“.
If that didn’t knock me for six then I don’t know what would. Honestly, the idea that I could get a real, permanent position somewhere was (and still is) insane to me. I’m only just eighteen years old, I don’t have a degree and most of my spare time is spent making peanut butter cookies in my jim-jams. But Ray had a really valid point; if I carry on interning for much longer, potential employers are going to look at my CV and wonder why on earth I can’t get a permanent position. I’m not honestly sure how they’d react if I told them it’s because I never thought to apply for them.
So I’m going to take it upon myself now to share the information I’ve received over a totally eye-opening twenty four hours. If you feel you’re in the transitional period between being “the intern” and a permanent employee somewhere, maybe it’ll help. Hopefully I’ll be settled in “real” job soon, and who knows? Maybe I’ll have my own intern.
Get signed on to an agency. This was the first thing Ray told me to do and it makes a lot of sense. Most major music & media companies have a few trusted recruitment agencies that they use over and over again. If at all possible, get referred there by your human resources department. They’ll take the leg work out of looking for a job – all you’ll have to do is register with the agency, then turn up to job interviews and ace them. But you can do that, because by now you’ve interned your butt off and you’re totally ready.
Ask your boss for a hand. Chances are, you’re working for someone who is well-respected in the music industry and has a network base that’s been built up over years of experience. If you can’t stay on at your current company but you’ve made a good impression on your boss, there’s no harm in asking her to pass on your CV to her connections. You never know who might be hiring, and the right words from the right people can be gold dust.
Know when to say no. You know what sucks? Working for free. You are going to have to do that at some point in your life. Accept it and move on. But also know that working for free will not put petrol in your car, and all the best “I’m just trying to get my foot in the door” intentions won’t keep your landlord off your back. The wonderful Andy Hurst wrote a fantastic blog called “Know Your Worth: Why Free Isn’t A Good Thing” here and it’s well worth a read if you’re pondering taking yet another unpaid stint at a label.
Take any assistance you can, while you can. I didn’t go to university. This is a personal choice and does not in any way reflect my academic standings (when I was at school I was consistently top of my class and I have many certificates and exam results to prove it). You do NOT need a degree to do well in your chosen field, but for the love of god, if you are still in education, make the most of it. Most universities have a careers centre – go in there, explain your situation and make best friends with them. Whether they assist you with internships that count towards your degree, graduate schemes or straight-up job offers, I hear that their help can be invaluable.
Whether or not this is fantastic, life-changing advice remains to be seen, I suppose. I’ll keep you posted on my seemingly endless job hunt. If you’re in the same situation and want to share your experiences, then drop a tweet to @IATTG or catch me personally at beth@ialwaystellthegirls. How did YOU get that job?