Anonymous asked: I just finished an internship I really didn't like. What do you do if you have a difficult internship or difficult boss? Should I complain? What if I already did?
This is big question to ask, so how about a ‘how to guide!’ It’s a long post, sorry about that. But we think it’s a really good read.Honestly, we think this is good advice for anyone - whether you’re an intern or an assistant.
The Do’s and Don’ts of a music industry
Your guide of how to survive when the music biz isn’t glamorous
So you have an internship you don’t like? That sucks. We’re not downplaying your suffering, but tough luck. The music industry isn’t glamorous and sunshine all the time, it’s a business, which means it isn’t always easy. If you want to work in this industry, an internship is a great opportunity. We’re big believers in internships, but you’ve got to know how to succeed. So what happens when your internship sucks? Reality check: some internships are boring, some are menial and some are fantastic but the wrong fit for you.
THE DO: How to succeed in any internship
- Smile and have a positive attitude. People want to work with people who want to be there. It’s that simple.
- Build connections and always be nice. These are the people who you may want to help you in the future. That’s only going to happen if they like you.
- Ask questions about the industry as a whole. Show your interest – passion can go a long way.
- Meet people in other departments. You never know who you’re going to click with.
- Use Google and learn helpful programs. You want to seem as smart as possible, so if you’re unsure how to do something, Google it before asking your boss. If you know how to use impressive programs, tell your boss so they can use your skills for bigger projects!
- Keep in touch once you’re gone. You don’t want to be out of sight, out of mind!
THE DON’T: How to ensure you’re never hired in the music biz
- Do not bad mouth your boss or company to anyone within the music industry - even if you’re friends with whoever you’re talking to. You may hate your internship and you may hate your boss, but venting to anyone who works in the biz is a recipe for disaster.
- Do not go over your boss’s head. Going to the head of the company, department etc may seem like a great way to solve any issues you have with your supervisor. It’s actually a terrible idea. Why?
1) No company will ever hire you if you have complained against its employees. Remember, there’s a record on you as well. You’re cutting off a finger to spite your hand.
2) Your supervisor will know you complained. You may eventually want this person to be your reference. They won’t vouch for you if you’ve spoken badly of them.
3) Even if you don’t want this person to be your reference, you may want to put this internship on your resume. Problem is, if you don’t have anyone who will vouch for you at that company, you really can’t put it on your resume without “red-flagging” yourself. Most entry level jobs will want at least one reference from each of your previous experiences. You don’t want to waste your time in an internship you can’t even list on your resume.
- Do not have a bad attitude. You’re here to help, even if that means buying coffee.
- Do not be late. Nothing screams “I’m unprofessional” like not being on time.
- Do not be eager to bounce at 5PM on the dot. You may not want to stay late, but being eager to leave - will make people want you to leave.
Based on your question, you may have already committed a “don’t.” How do you save yourself so you can still work in the music biz?
We hate to say it, but it may be too late. Now we know we’re giving a lot of credit to the companies, but ego check, there are a hundred other kids who would kill for your internship and a thousand who are applying for the same jobs as you. So here are some tricks to try and salvage the situation!
- If you’ve already spoken badly of the company or your boss, you can’t undo the damage you’ve done to your own reputation at the company. You can however try and salvage your relationship with your boss.
Step 1: Apologize. It’s very likely your boss knows what you said. Apologize for it. “I’m sorry” is a band-aid on any bruised pride.
Step 2: Retract. If you complained to a friend in the music industry, tell them causally about how much better your internship got by the end of the semester. If you complained to someone at the company, call them back. You can always explain that ‘Upon further reflection, I realized that I was so stressed from finals, I was blaming it on the internship’ or ‘I realize that the internship was the wrong fit for me. I love working in the music industry but I was blaming the stress of my situation on my boss/supervisor.’ You may look flimsy in the eyes of the company, but they weren’t going to hire you anyway. At least your boss will know about your retraction, so you may be able to get a reference.
- If you’ve got a bad attitude and you’re still at the internship, it’s never too late to change other people’s perception of you. Change that bad attitude. Bring in cupcakes for everyone and start fresh. Even if you hate everything, fake it till you make it.
- If you’ve been late – SET YOUR ALARM EARLIER. If it’s something you can’t change (like a long distance train), talk to your boss. Explain the situation and see if you can start slightly later to accommodate factors which are out of your control.
So what can you do to make a difficult internship better?
- Talk to your boss. If there’s something they’re doing that upsets you, try to work out a new system in a respectful way. (Example: “I really appreciate you teaching me new things but I have trouble following without example. Can you please show me on a computer?”)
- Not enough work? Create your own work. Ask your supervisor if you can design a research project for the semester. Come with good ideas and then present your final project to the department when your internship is over. (Example, create a new website.)
- If the internship is simply the wrong fit for you, ask your supervisor if they have any friends in a different department you’re interested in. Tell them you’d love to spend one day a week shadowing that person since you’re so interested in different aspects of the music business.
- If you and your boss aren’t clicking, try to build a personal relationship when he/she is not busy. Bring in a coffee, ask them about their night, find common ground. Be careful to not seem unprofessional and be sure to approach your boss when he/she has time to focus on you.
- If all else fails and you still hate it, vent to your non-music industry friends. If they’re not in this field, hopefully you’re safe. They’re your friends so it’s their job to listen to your complaints and support your sob stories.
In our opinion, the point of an internship is as follows:
- To learn
- Develop and maintain connections
- Gain experience
- Build your resume
- Get a foot in the door of the music industry
LIFE LESSON: What happens in the music biz, stays in the music biz. We’ve heard plenty of people say their variation of this but it all means the same thing. This is a very small industry. Everyone knows each other, so word of your reputation travels fast.
So remember interns, even if your internship is the worst, you can still accomplish 4 out of 5 bullets above. Best of luck!
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