Look Who's Coming to Berklee College of Music
Traditionally, Berklee's entering classes are non-traditional. Over the past several years the demographics of our enrollees have been changing with entering students getting younger, more experienced, and more technologically savvy.
The first significant change has been in entering student ages. Of the 916 who enrolled last fall, 595 were 19 years old or younger. with only 15 of them over 30. The average age of entering students is now 19.8 years; formerly, it was 22. There are more women attending; they account for 28 percent of our enrollment. Berklee students are also more diverse racially, ethnically, geographically, and musically. We now have more African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino students.
Where do they come from? Nationally, they hail from all across the United States, with 31 percent from New England, 26 percent from the middle states (from New York to Delaware), 13 percent from the Midwest, 12 percent from the South, 4 percent from the Southwest, and 14 percent from the West. We also recruit from 70 countries, with the largest percentage of international students coming from Asia (54 percent).
One-third of our students have a strong interest in jazz, and the rest embrace a wide variety of contemporary music styles. Many of them formed their own bands and have produced and recorded their music. They often play more than one instrument and almost all of them are technologically savvy. They are aware of global happenings and monitor new developments via the Internet.
Students come to Berklee with a plan to graduate. In fact, many stay for an extra year and complete a dual major. About 82 percent seek a degree; 18 percent pursue a diploma.
Academically, our entering class parallels other top undergraduate colleges with average GPAs topping 3.0. However, their high school backgrounds are more eclectic: they come from traditional large urban high schools, suburban schools, performing-arts schools, private and boarding schools, and home-school programs. All our students are strong performers but many come to Berklee to learn as much as they can about the music industry from our full menu of majors. Their interest in technology reflects changes in the industry as well as their home environment.
Personally, they're outgoing and introspective, articulate through words and/or music, polite, inquisitive, and open to new ideas, sounds, and people. They judge their classmates and teachers by ability and passion rather than by superficialities. They're harder working than the average college freshman, committed to their lessons, ensembles, and practicing as well as their academics. They value talent, experience and dedication. They're uptight about their music and laid back about "whatever." As different as they all are, though, they are all unified in their love of music.
Benefits of Interships Flow Both Ways
Coordinator of Experiential Learning
In 1999, Berklee created the Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) to offer Berklee students employment opportunities in a wide range of music-related businesses through an internship program. In the three years since its inception, the program, which has placed over 300 student interns with companies, is proving to be a win-win situation. These supervised internships provide companies with highly motivated workers who bring youthful energy, fresh talent, and enthusiasm to the workplace. Student interns benefit from this "real-world" job experience and college credit before entering the job market.
The OEL keeps at the fore the employers' needs and the career objectives of the students when coordinating a match. Once an intern is selected, employers are responsible for providing a job description or an outline of tasks that the intern is expected to complete. The employer and student then collaborate on a contract specifically crafted to meet the student's learning objectives and fulfill the company's needs. That contract is filed with the OEL. It commits the intern to an eight- to 14-week period during which time the intern works a minimum of 140 hours.
The employer should provide the intern with whatever he or she needs to become a contributing member of the organization. Decisions about which projects to assign to interns are left to the employer's discretion; but interns often work on projects that the employer has been too busy to attend to. Interns frequently shadow the employer in day-to day-activities and are expected to assist with other office duties such as mailing, filing, and faxing. Compensation is encouraged but not required. At the conclusion of the internship, the organization completes an evaluation of the intern's performance.
Students wishing to participate in the internship program must have completed 50 academic credits and maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.7. After discussing their learning objectives with the OEL staff and receiving clearance from their academic department to participate, students can be placed with a site supervisor.
Throughout the internship, OEL remains in contact with the students via biweekly journal entries written by the students and through OEL staff visits to the internship sites. Students also participate in an internship seminar, which advises interns on professional behavior. Finally, students submit a paper to their academic department chronicling their experience. These requirements ensure that employers receive high-quality, motivated candidates and that the students have an educationally beneficial internship experience.
Bill Stafford of BMG Entertainment, a corporate participant in the program, summed up his experience with interns this way: "Each year we have of interns from colleges and universities across the country working in music licensing in BMG's Copyright Department. The Berklee interns get a 'working interview' here and will continue to be offered full-time positions as opportunities arise."
Jeremy Black, an intern at Capitol Records in Los Angeles, gives the student's perspective: "My internship enabled me to observe a lot of possible career paths for my future. I got to experience a lot of things that I had no interest in before I came here. I have clearer professional goals now that I've seen what I have to do to get where I want to be."
The OEL is continuing to build the program and expand internship opportunities. Two scholarships, the Justin M. Kantor Scholarship and the Rod Nordell Scholarship, are helping with this expansion. The firstset up by Michael Kantor in the name of his son Justin, a recent Berklee graduate who participated in the internship programis available to students who are Music Business/Management majors seeking a summer internship. The Kantor scholarship also sponsors a career night with a panel of industry professionals to discuss how individuals can market themselves as artists and employees in the music industry. The Nordell scholarship is not tied to a specific major and is available for both the fall and spring semesters.
The OEL maintains a database of over 700 possible internship site listings; that number however, is always growing. Referrals from Berklee faculty and alumni help the office find new site sponsors. Although most interns work in Boston, New York, Nashville, and Los Angeles, the OEL is seeking contacts in other areas of the country and overseas.
To expand the program, OEL welcomes input from alumni on how to better serve participating students and employers and the office invites companies to submit industry contact information that may generate opportunities for Berklee's student interns. Those seeking more information on the Berklee internship program or wishing to hire a Berklee intern can contact the Office of Experiential Learning, 1140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA, 02155, 617-747-2180. For information online, visit www.berklee.edu/oel.