It’s never too early in your college career to start thinking about internships. Internships typically last for one or two semesters and are a great way to find out what your chosen industry is like behind-the-scenes without having to make much of a commitment. You can even travel across the country to do an internship, so it’s worth researching your dream internship (at a particular record company, for example) and submitting an application.
Luckily for you, there are many internships available in the music industry, and there are even some that are specific to songwriters. The downside is that there are also thousands of eager up-and-coming musicians and music students vying for the same positions, meaning you need to stand out in a big way if you want to land the once-in-a-lifetime experience of a songwriting internship.
The other major catch is that many internships are unpaid, so you might need to have extra funds available to support yourself for a few months. Some internships offer a stipend that helps to cover basic necessities, like food and housing.
So if you don’t even get paid, what’s so appealing about internships? Here are some of the top benefits of internships.
Test the waters. Did it take you a year or two to settle on a major? You might still have some lingering doubts about whether you’re going to be truly happy in your chosen industry. What if the stress is more than you imagined? What if the work is more soul-sucking than inspiring? The best way to put these fears to rest is to get some hands-on experience. You will definitely be surprised by how much you love certain aspects of the job. On the other hand, you will also run into some mundane work. That’s to be expected. When the internship is up, you’ll have a firm idea of whether you want to continue with your songwriting career plans or perhaps take a detour.
Meet people within the industry. Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Making professional connections has significant advantages. You want to meet people who can offer you advice, who can tell you more about their responsibilities as a songwriter and who can even recommend you for a job. People who love their jobs are interested in encouraging and mentoring young people who are just getting started. Feel free to ask questions, and take advantage of every opportunity to be included in a new project.
Gain confidence. Once you actually have experience in your field, your confidence will grow by leaps and bounds. You’ll receive invaluable feedback and encouragement. Any fears you have will be laid to rest once you’ve gone through the motions and proved your abilities. Plus, you can start to identify yourself as a songwriter, if you haven’t already. Some people feel like they can’t claim that title until they’re actually being paid to write songs. Get used to telling people with a confident smile that you are, in fact, a professional songwriter. And not only are you a professional songwriter, but you also have the contacts, experiences and references to back you up.
Earn a letter of recommendation. Once you have that confidence-boosting experience under your belt, you should be able to walk away with a solid letter of recommendation and/or professional references that you can use in the future. The letter of recommendation tells potential employers how hard you worked, how focused you were, how well you got along with everyone in the office, how you took initiative on projects, how well you communicated and, of course, how much of a talent for songwriting you demonstrated.
And finally, the one outcome that every intern hopes for is to …
Receive a full-time job offer. In an internship, you’re not the only one testing things out; the company is also testing you out. If you knock the socks off of your manager, he or she might extend you an offer of a full-time job. Since finding a job is one of the major hurdles you’ll face after graduation, how great would it be to graduate college while already having a secure job lined up? You’d be ahead of the game in a big way. Alternatively, if the company you interned with isn’t looking to hire any new employees, they might recommend you as an excellent candidate to others in the industry.
You can write songs until you’re blue in the face, but the industry insight and professional experience that you gain with an internship is invaluable to advancing in your career. The experience will instantly make you more well-rounded in the eyes of future employers. Even landing the internship in the first place shows that you had the initiative and determination to apply. With an internship, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Find one that sounds right for you and apply!