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Internships: Gateway to a Music Career

As a Berklee student, Stephen Herring pursued a double major in performance and music education. Seeking to understand how the business of music fit with his interest in performing, Herring set out for Los Angeles in January 2007. As a participant in Berklee's Los Angeles Internship Program, the college provided him with a place to live, educational and networking opportunities through semiweekly workshops, and two great internships at North Star Media and New Line Cinema.

"The Los Angeles Internship Program exceeded any of my expectations," Herring stated. "As well, at every industry function, artist showcase, and music mixer I've been to in L.A., someone from Berklee was there. Berklee is a major force in the L.A. music scene, everyone here knows the college."

As an intern, Herring impressed his supervisors so much that they offered him a full-time position at North Star as the creative department coordinator, and he now supervises Berklee interns himself. "Based on my recent switch from L.A. intern to internship supervisor for North Star Media, I can say that out of all the schools I have interviewed students from, Berklee consistently has the strongest candidates." Herring reports that colleagues from other companies in Los Angeles have similarly great things to say about Berklee interns. "Berklee students make the best interns," he says simply.

What makes Berklee interns so successful? According to Herring, they understand what an internship is all about and have great attitudes and a genuine interest in music. Over the years, hundreds of students have gotten internships through Berklee's Office of Experiential Learning (OEL) programs, then landed jobs and even taken on interns of their own. Each semester, 30 percent to 50 percent of all students who intern for academic credit say they have been offered a job or another internship following their internship experience.

In 1999 the Office of Experiential Learning was created to centralize internships for academic credit at Berklee. During the 1999-2000 academic year, just 13 students interned for academic credit through the Office of Experiential Learning. By contrast, during the 2006-2007 academic year, 314 students participated in OEL's experiential programs. And this year, OEL is on track to see even higher numbers.

And students have caught on to the importance of internships. During his internship at Universal Music Publishing, Eduardo Morales '06 e-mailed us, echoing what many students have said over the years: "It is vital for everyone to do an internship."

To that end, internships have become a crucial part of a Berklee education, because students can apply what they learn in class to the real world. They also foster important relationships with people in their field of choice and develop greater professional focus. And as the industry changes, musicians have become like small businesses. Students thus need to learn how to be entrepreneurial and to support themselves professionally, and that means gaining an understanding of the business of music, regardless of one's major. From the disciplines of music business/management to film scoring and performance, internships are a critical piece of a student's career development and, frequently, a gateway to a career in music.

To date, more than 2,000 organizations have posted internship opportunities in Berklee's database. Internships benefit the sponsoring site by providing help with projects, allowing for mentorship and networking, fostering new talent, and determining whether the intern is a good fit for permanent hire. College alumni who have recently sponsored Berklee interns include composer/music editor Shie Rozow '97, Panos Panay '94 and Lou Paniccia '05 of Sonicbids, Paul Goldman '93 of Ear Goo, composer Shawn Clement '88, Jason LaChapelle '98 of Zildjian, composer Ryan Shore '96, Adrian Ross '96 of ASCAP, Giles Christenson '99 of Blue Jay Recording Studio, Nathan DeVore '02 of David Vanacore Productions, Tera Johnson '02 of Nexon America, Valerie Lovely '95 of the Law Office of Valerie Lovely, Jack MacInnis '88 of XM Satellite Radio, Dave Pettigrew '91 and Mallory Zumbach of Warner Chappell Music, Mat Levass '05 of Freeplay Music, and Cameell Hanna '07 of Sanctum Sound. This is just a partial list of the alumni who are involved. We are grateful for the support and enthusiasm of the hundreds of other alumni participating in our programs.

Berklee's OEL facilitates five academic credit-bearing programs: Introductory Internships, Major-Specific Internships, the Los Angeles Internship Program, the Summer Internship Program in London, and Service Learning. Through the variety of programs, students are eligible to intern in the city of their choice throughout the world. Visit www.berklee.edu/oel to learn more about these programs. For more information or to sponsor a Berklee intern, please contact me directly at (617) 747-2180 or by e-mail at dgelinas@berklee.edu.