Making It in Entertainment: Internship Edition
Megan Vineberg – Contributing Writer
Anything worth having does not come easy, as they say. Ask any student today in music business with the goal of going into live music touring within the hospitality industry, or those in entertainment management. Music is not something that necessarily requires a degree, and yet a lot of positions in the industry on the business side require you have a bachelor’s minimum, and several years’ experience.
Former staff writer for the BC Observer, Danielle Kfare, details how she packed up her life and uprooted to New York City in hopes of finding a position in music editorial. As it goes, the competition was stiff. While her time in the city was treasured, and she does not regret the move, the way events unfolded upon arrival was not what she had in mind for her future career path. Kfare worked tireless in a string of unpaid editorial positions in search of greater opportunity.
The opportunities that Kfare found herself getting were priceless simply for the experience.
“If you’re looking to get into entertainment journalism, I’ve gotten a lot of interview opportunities with big musicians, and indie ones too–Hunter Hayes, Jax, Jasmine Thompson, Rozzi–all through my two unpaid internship positions at EUPHORIA., and Notion. I’ll be interviewing Kelsea Ballerini about her new book soon. Due to the Application Tracking System (ATS), it’s more difficult to break out to than you think. I’ve been doing part time social media work for A Great Big World’s tour manager for a company he started. Running a fan account has paid off if you’re into that sort of thing. I’ve been running my A Great Big World account for 7 years so far, and I’ve built a great relationship with those guys.”
Kfare detailed more about how it’s been a challenge since the pandemic hit. When asked what it takes to stand out, Kfare said that the industry is very competitive, and can be about connecting via people you know but it’s not necessarily always the case. Like anything, students can expect to have their eyes peeled.
While the company might be interviewing you, it works both ways. You should also be interviewing the company. Do their employees seem happy, or are they going through the motions? Do they get added responsibility without a title, or are they rewarded fairly? What is the work/life balance, and how does the average salary work for the cost of living in your city? These are all important points to remember. That being said, my observation is that having recommendations cannot hurt, especially when it is at the target company of where you want to work.
When speaking of Kfare’s time writing for the Observer, and she had nothing ill to say. “I loved writing for the Observer. We had a sweet team back then and I graduated from BC and got my BA in journalism from LIU Brooklyn.”
Former intern of Def Jam Records, Alex Collins, sat down with me to discuss the job search process, and the sheer determination needed to land the perfect role. Now working as Content Protection Representative at Universal Music Group, it became clear to me that Collins was someone who it would pay to listen to more of.
“When it comes to music, for me, I try to take any opportunity that sounds cool to me. The truest thing I’ve ever learned about the job search was that anything I didn’t get was just preventing me from getting something better.”
“As far as getting something, I think part of it is luck, but another part is directly reaching out to whoever is hiring. Those internships are really important if you’re looking to work at a major [label] right of school. They really look for experience above all else, and it’s difficult to get experience outside of school.”
Upon having these conversations, I reflected on my own past experience in making a name for myself in the entertainment industry. I thought about all of the past experiences I’d had up until that point. My own time at Borderless Melodies, an entertainment website, helped me gain valuable skills like interviewing, research and development. I picked up on what it is that artists want to talk about, and connected to them on a personal level, rather than just standard interviewing. Maintaining professionalism, of course, I obtained several of these same types of internships in order to gain the necessary experience.
While I had interviews at major tech companies and record labels, nothing seemed to stick. That is, until I was approached by someone similar to the founder of LOOP, a similar website to Borderless Melodies, except that it had the goal of being turned into an independent label. Working against me as well is that living in Miami, I only am fluent in one language, English–something that undoubtedly cost me a position at Universal Music Group.
While the recruiter could see my potential and drive, she expressed concern over my ability to fare well in the business market. Over the years, I’ve picked up on and improved my Spanish listening to others, eventually learning to speak, read, and write the language. Still, I am not fluent as is needed for the major record label positions in Miami being that the majority is Spanish speaking. The one thing I’ve learned through this entire experience is that any company not willing to take me on as I am is not a reflection of me, it just means there is a better fit out there somewhere.
My first paid role in entertainment was at LOOP, and I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to present itself. My experience beforehand, was that of setting and achieving a goal, and while I’m not quite where I want to be in my career, I am well on my way, as are we all.