What does it take to be a great Recording Studio Intern?

As studio manager of Dark Horse Recording, I am not only in charge of hiring interns, but also supervising and evaluating them for jobs. Studio Interns at Dark Horse have a unique experience, not only do they get the experience of engineering on sessions, but they also get the behind the scenes of running a studio.  We pride ourselves on giving interns the opportunity to build their craft while making contacts as well as maintaining the facility.  There are a lot of horror stories out there of studio where interns aren’t even allowed in the Studio’s themselves.  That’s not true here, we give our interns full access to the studios as well as all of our industry resources.  So what is it I look for in a Recording Studio Intern and how do you stand out and make it worth your while?


What I look for in an intern is someone with passion for audio engineering, a great work ethic and a self driven attitude.  If you understand that you will not only be asked to help with sessions, but also the general upkeep and operation of the studio you will most likely be a great candidate.  I don’t mean to sound harsh, but when you come in as an intern, you need to get over yourself.  You may have been self taught, the top of your class and worked with the top acts in the industry, but if you are an intern, you are still just that.  Don’t try to impress me with knowledge or experience, Impress me with your willingness to learn, work as a team and humble yourself.

How to Stand Out

Studios will typically have many interns, some studios base your responsibilities on your seniority or how high you have climbed in a System.  We have a tier system that starts our newest people all at the same level.  as their internship progresses they have the opportunity to climb the ranks by passing knowledge tests.  The higher rank you are the more likely you are to 2nd engineer a session  So how can you stand out even with higher level interns?

1. Never Ever say No.  If someone asks you to do something, you should either answer yes or “No, Because…” and the because better be good, like I’m allergic to those, or I don’t think I have enough experience.  But even if you don’t have enough experience, you should follow it up with, but I’m willing to learn.

2. You should never be bored.  If you are bored, you are not doing it right.  even if you have no tasks assigned to you, you should still either

A)be proactive and go over everything with a fine toothed comb, because I will come and find something you probably missed.

B) Take this time to learn.  If you have access to gear and studios you should learn to operate everything inside out.  The day will come when an engineer, guest or manager says, “Who can do this or that?” and you say you can.  That person will remember that.

3. Never turn down an opportunity to work.  If someone calls off and your supervisor calls you, go in.  If one of the other interns needs you to cover for them.  Take it.

4. Show initiative.   If you know something should be done at a certain time everyday, even if you weren’t scheduled to, do it.  Taking out the trash or answering phones when you notice someone else is slacking shows not only the willingness to help your team, but also shows great maturity and responsibility.

5.  Follow the Rules, no matter what.  You may think doing something is not important or should be done differently.  Don’t there’s usually a reason behind it.  It’s ok to ask why something is done a certain way.  If there’s no real explanation, then maybe you suggest a better way.

6. NEVER talk about anybody behind their back.  This goes for fellow interns, Supervisors, even artists and engineers, it happens.  This will kill your reputation quicker than losing files.  This is a VERY tight knit community, someone you are talking about could very well hear what you have said.  This is a terrible way to shatter your dreams.

7. Don’t get fired!  Seems logical, but when you take on an internship it is like an initiation into the music business.  Everyone pays their dues, these are yours.  Other than talking about people behind their backs, this is a terrible way to mar your reputation.

8. Stay Motivated. Take your internship seriously, it’s not a given, there are people waiting outside dying to get in.  Use all the resources you have available to you to grow skills and build your reputation.  You could go from taking out trash one day to working with a huge producer or act the next.  I have seen it happen.  It may seem unimportant at the time, but a positive, driven attitude will make you rise above the rest.  Also make friends and contacts with everyone you meet, you never know what they may be doing the next day either, and that can help you get your foot in the door as well.

Remember that Internships are a “trail period” just because you may not want a job at the studio you intern at does not mean, it won’t effect you getting a job elsewhere.  Since internships are unpaid, many need jobs outside of it.  When I have an intern willing to take on shifts, even though I know they work a full time job and go to school, it shows me they want to succeed.  If I have an intern that won’t cover a shift cause they don’t want to or because it’s a weekend, does not sit well.  Engineers and producers work sometimes 14 hours or more a day any day of the week.  Why would I recommend someone for a job that I don’t think shows drive or passion?  It’s a small industry and if I recommend a bad fit, it looks bad for me as well.

Treat an internship like a job.  If you mope around because you aren’t getting paid, are constantly late or show no willingness to learn, the odds are you not only won’t get much out of the internship, but you also won’t get a recommendation.

Internships are extremely important and necessary.  Pay your dues and stay open to anything!  You have a bright future ahead of you, act like it!



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