How NOT to land an internship, PART 2
Ken Lewis
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Thread Starter
How NOT to land an internship, PART 2

So...... many of you might remember my epic rant thread from several years ago that has been resurrected more times on this site than J...... well, its been resurrected alot. I'd like to think its helped alot of people side step alot of "DO NOT DO THIS" type things when looking for a job in the real world. Lately i've been feeling there needs to be a part 2. Tonight was a tipping point. I wont mention any names, because honestly, this is an incredibly TYPICAL email that i get from people looking for a job from me. This is the norm, not the exception...... name has been removed....... I decided not to respond to them directly and instead decided i needed another fresh epic rant on GS where more than one person might benefit from my ramblings..... Here is the email i got. The ENTIRE email. You'll notice they did not bother to address me or my company by name, nor did they sign their own name to the email. again, i find this virtually the norm anymore and it is frightening to me...... read on.

....................................
Hello I am sending you this message to express my interest in attaining an internship with your company. I am a recent graduate of SAE Institute of Technology School dedicated to Audio Engineering and would like the opportunity to further my education while adding value to your company. I was unable to find exactly where you are located hence me sending the email on your site.
Thank you
....................................

Oh. My. God. Seriously S.A.E. If you as a "school" had half a brain, you would train your students extensively on how to get a job once they leave your school. Make this rant required reading. If this helps one talented person wake up and get a job, i will be happy.

Here is my response. Now, anyone who thinks this response is harsh, consider this. An actual harsh response would be none at all. a Harsh response would be deleting the email, not responding. Here is my actual response. For people of ANY background currently or soon to hope to enter the job market PLEASE for your own sake, not mine, pay attention...


Dear NAME WITHHELD,

you are NEVER, ever, going to get an internship like this. Let me give you some good advice, listen, or don't listen. Here are your mistakes.

1. There are literally thousands of people just like you every semester "graduating" from schools like this looking for a small number of internships. what sets you apart from any of them? serious question. Ask yourself.

2. Seriously. you express an interest in attaining an internship with my "company" though you don't mention that company by name, which makes this a form email that you sent to me and probably 100 other "companies". You don't think i know the difference between someone who wants to work for MY company because of what it is, what it does, who it reaches, etc.... and someone who is blindly sending out mass emails who clearly doesn't give a shit what company they are sending them to?

3. You couldn't take the 5 extra seconds to professionally address me by name. FAIL.

4. You couldn't take the 5 extra seconds to use proper grammar, punctuation, etc.... FAIL.

5. YOU COULDN'T EVEN BE BOTHERED TO SIGN YOUR OWN DAMN NAME TO YOUR OWN DAMN EMAIL. EPIC ****ING FAIL. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? SERIOUSLY.

6. You couldn't be bothered to attach a resume. FAIL.

7. You couldn't be bothered to attach professional references. FAIL. I actually check them on anyone i would ever consider hiring before i reach out to them.

8. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. Do i have ANY desire to hire someone who cannot conduct themselves professionally? Do i want that person around my clients? My gear? My books? My Hard drives? My sound libraries? My client files? My instruments? My anything? Hell no. FAIL.

The unemployment rate for recent college graduates (and lets face it, S.A.E. is not a real college but this goes far beyond SEA grads) is astronomically high to begin with. The unemployment rate for people coming out of music industry trade schools is probably double that, if not higher. Unpaid internships are scarce at best, paid jobs coming out of school are almost unheard of, and you are exerting the absolute minimum effort possible to attempt to land a job in the real world. This is the real world. Wake up. Unless you'd like to flip burgers or deliver pizza ( both of which i have done) for the rest of your adult life, you need to wake up right now. If this is your best effort in finding a job, your future is bleak.

If this letter offends you, GOOD. I'm actually trying to help you. I could have just deleted this like the other 99 people you sent this same email to. Or, actually with this effort, probably 9 people you sent it to. I take great pride in my company, EVERY successful business owner takes great pride in their company, and who they hire. I have had the same staff for 8 and 10 years, my staff kicks all kinds of ass. My staff has gold and platinum and Grammys on their walls that they have earned. Nothing has been handed to them. They are still with me because they are great at what they do. Anyone new who wants to join my staff better at least strive to join this team and match that drive. Anybody new who joins this staff better want to work specifically for MY company, not just any company. that doesn't mean you can't want to work for other companies, but you'd better know what my company does and tell me why it specifically interests you, and much more importantly, how YOU can help THIS company be even better. Otherwise, why would i hire you?

Since i will never hire you, maybe if you take this advice to heart, you will have a legitimate shot at getting hired by the next company you approach. Take it or leave it.

1. Jobs are scare, and you are probably not working right now so you have lots of free time on your hands. When you find a company or person you want to work for, spend some time researching them. Find out exactly what they do, how they do it, why they do it, and how you think you can help them do it even better. THEN.....

2. Write a specifically targeted cover letter to someone at that company. In your cover letter, tell them what position you are hoping to land, internship, then tell them why you want to work for their company. what about it interests you. But MORE IMPORTANTLY....

3. Tell them how YOU can help THEM. i get people all the time who come to me saying things like "i know i could learn so much from you. If you mentored me it would be such a great experience. i want to learn everything you know, etc... etc... etc...." they never bother to tell me why on Earth i would want to take my valuable time and spend it on them. Seriously. of COURSE you want to be mentored by someone like me, i've been making major label records for 21 years, i have ALOT i can teach you, but why you? Why would i want to divert a single second of my already incredibly busy day to give you my time? My time is very precious to me, and so is my knowledge. Thats a serious question, I'm not just blowing smoke up my own a....... put yourself in my shoes for a moment.

4. Send me a resume. a GREAT one. keep it to one page. Nothing you've done is so important that you need a 2 page resume. don't fluff it up with shit nobody but you cares about. Seriously. You are applying for an internship. Not an engineering gig. Nobody cares if you have a home studio, EVERYBODY has one. Nobody cares if you engineered 5 mixtapes last year, I never heard them. Nobody cares if you rap, if you make beats, if you know 6 different software programs, etc... I mean, i want to have some sense that you've been inside a studio before, but i see so many resumes with stuff that literally only you care about.

Here are the qualities i personally look for......

Are you trustworthy? prove it. Are you professional? are you reliable? Are you available when i need you to be (for example will this be your only job or will you be working 40 hours a week some place else in which case i am not interested). Are you willing to do all of the crap jobs that i don't want to do (just like i did in my 2 internships) Do you have transportation? THEN i think about things like..... how well do you know gear. Are you a musician or vocalist? What are your long term career goals? You are applying for an internship, not chief engineer.

Honestly, one of my absolute favorite things to see on a resume is if you worked at a bank. If people trusted you around money, maybe i can trust you around gear. Secondly, did you hold a job for a long period of time. If you jumped from job to job, you'll probably do the same here. I want to hire someone invested in wanting to work here, not looking for their next move. I look for real world jobs, not home studio owners. If you can hold a fast food job for 2 years (i did) that tells me you are a hard worker. get it??

Do you know when to keep your mouth shut? Will you do what is asked of you? I had an intern once that after a couple months working for me, i took him to a Just Blaze session. I instructed him "keep your mouth shut. do not speak unless spoken to. you are there to observe and help me. period. and do not, absolutely do not, give Just Blaze your demo tape, or ask him to listen to anything". Not because i want to prevent him from opportunity, but because he represents ME. MY reputation. At the end of the session he handed Just Blaze a demo tape and i fired him 1 minute later. He's never done shit in the industry since. Its not intern hour. You earn trust and opportunities come. did i mention both my guys have shiny walls? that idiot would have too had he done the right things.

This would be my approach in looking for an internship......... i'm serious.

Dear specific person.....
I am seeking an internship with you (or your company, or etc...) because of xyz specific reason (like i heard your work on..... your studio has worked on great albums such as..... your company creates inspiring software.... something that tells the employer that you took 5 minutes to google them).... I believe i can be a great asset to your company. I make a mean pot of coffee, have an excellent phone voice, i run errands lightning fast, i obsessively clean every visible surface i see and don't get me started on my vacuuming skills. I like to work long hours and I am super reliable. I'll drop my plans at the last minute if you need me. My Mother taught me to be very trustworthy and my Father gave me my solid work ethic. I plan to be a rising star in coming years at your company and I will earn every promotion you give me. Also, my GPA was... I have a degree in.... and someday i want to be a...."

I am dead serious. If i was looking for a new employee, the person who sent me this cover letter and a good resume and meant it would be the one i hired. WHY? because that was me, and most of the other very successful people i know. Great interns become great assistants. Great assistants move on to be great engineers / mixers / producers whatever they want to be. My internships were the most important jobs i ever had, because without them, i would have never moved up the ladder. I'd be delivering pizza or managing a Starbucks right now without them. Treat the job you are trying to get with the respect that job deserves. You are asking to work for free, but free isnt free. Free is someone giving you their time to train you, pass on their knowledge to you, give you their time, and my time is valuable to me. I need a reason to part with it.

Last thought before i wrap this epic rant up.

We are not peers. We are not friends. We are not on a first name basis. If you hit me up on Twitter asking for a job...... FAIL. Facebook....FAIL... If you are looking for a job and you address me as "wassup Ken" or "Yo dude" or dont even bother to address me at all.... FAIL. Its unprofessional and this is a profession. Guys, girls, it truly pains me to see how many young people are so utterly clueless at how to land a job in the music industry. There are so many amazingly talented people out there who just dont have the first idea of how land a job. Take this novel to heart. read it. ten times if you are in the current job market. The advice here could separate you from the rest of the zombies attempting to find meaningful work. Schools like SAE are clearly not teaching you this stuff. Somebody has to. Welcome to the real world, it actually is a jungle out there. And if you are offended by what i'm saying, honestly, i really don't care. Grow a thicker skin. the music industry is a cruel cruel place. I wish you luck.

Sincerely,
Ken Lewis
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#2
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Shit man....you buried that dude
#3
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Perhaps ill think twice before emailing you... .

In all seriousness though you've raised a lot of great points. I've seen friends apply to big recording studios around our area with a really poor approach, and in turn they never heard anything back (some took it better than others).

Although I'm fairly proficient in formal writing, I'll definately look to use some of your advice for future reference. Thanks for the rant.
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Don't take this the wrong way, but if you want some advice, in the future just don't respond or acknowledge these emails if they get you that upset. Because by posting a rant like that with your name on it, you end up looking more unprofessional than the person in the email.
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#5
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Haha, It's insightful and humorous as far as I'm concerned.

It's like all the Graphic design schools that pump out all these designers and web developers and law schools etc. Too many designers and lawyers...and not nearly enough engineering internships.

A lot of these up and comers post here. This in all it's Ken Lewis ranting glory, may serve as a reminder.

too many beatmakers and emcees too....
#6
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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moan zone
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse381 View Post
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you want some advice, in the future just don't respond or acknowledge these emails if they get you that upset. Because by posting a rant like that with your name on it, you end up looking more unprofessional than the person in the email.
I couldn't disagree more. Anyone running a studio is all too familiar with the impossibly vast quantity of nimrod emails you get from hopeful young kids looking for internships. In my experience, it's typically far worse than the email Ken received. Making an example of this poor fellow will likely help someone (or hopefully, many folks) reconsider his or her half-assed approach and that might just land them a gig. Or maybe it'll scare em off. Or maybe it'll just get them to put an iota of effort into attaining a job that they should want with every bit of their being; that they would live, eat, sleep, and breathe. And that does everyone a pretty solid favor, from the prospective interns who desperately need a clue to the jaded studio owners and engineers tired of receiving poorly-written half-assed form letters from do-nothing losers in one of the most competitive industries on the planet.
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse381 View Post
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you want some advice, in the future just don't respond or acknowledge these emails if they get you that upset. Because by posting a rant like that with your name on it, you end up looking more unprofessional than the person in the email.
^^^

Is the dude that sent Ken that email.
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#9
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Great post

I can use this advice in my 9-5 career which is xray health care
#10
21st February 2013
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The issue extends far beyond the music industry. So many people with terrible social skills that can't find work and will never understand why... Sometimes I meet musicians who can't even articulate what the hell they do or what their specialty is. I guess some people gotta learn the hard way.
#11
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Once again great info put out by Ken Lewis. I have been to school for audio engineering and I will be the first to agree with Mr. Lewis that landing an internship is a course that is not taught. It really gets to me how folks can have such "soft skin". I mean really, if you didn't get anything useful from Mr. Lewis' so called "rant" then you obviously missed the point. Thanks for your post Mr. Lewis. Priceless information.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I747
#12
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Yo Ken..gisa job
#13
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Haha that was awesome.

Nice rant Ken!
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21st February 2013
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I can agree that if I'm paying money for a school, that advice given is just as important on the way out. If you are not told that then you would get a harsh response as such or a no reply. Hopefully the gentlemen has thick skin and will embrace, and strike rich upon the next inquiry. I think Mr Lewis extends himself very well on this forum therefore the person may have felt the a relationship already establish and could have easily not done the due diligence when applying. That's what came to mind. The advice applies to many situations I too can grasp some of the niblets.
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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You don't care if someone has experience in their own home studio? I would think that would be a big basis for them, as that teaches the person plenty.
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BingoBongo View Post
Yo Ken..gisa job
LOL
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _Mark View Post
You don't care if someone has experience in their own home studio? I would think that would be a big basis for them, as that teaches the person plenty.
It teaches the person virtually nothing that would make them useful as an intern.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
It teaches the person virtually nothing that would make them useful as an intern.
Let's say the person watched all of Kens videos in their home studio and applied them....

They are still pretty much useless?
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isawsasquatch View Post
^^^

is the dude that sent ken that email.
lmaoooo
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanilla_Dutches View Post
Let's say the person watched all of Kens videos in their home studio and applied them....

They are still pretty much useless?
Yes.
#21
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Ken, I have a serious, possibly dumb, question to ask: what would be the appropriate email subject title when someone reaches out for an internship? I know people contact you through various sites, so I'm wondering how you would prefer it to be labeled to separate it from business inquiries. Thanks in advance.
Ken Lewis
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jesse381 View Post
Don't take this the wrong way, but if you want some advice, in the future just don't respond or acknowledge these emails if they get you that upset. Because by posting a rant like that with your name on it, you end up looking more unprofessional than the person in the email.
thanks for the advice, but i actually didnt send it back to him, i just posted it here. And honestly, I've been making major label records for 21 years, I have complete job security, for the most part i really dont care what people think of me. This will, and already has, resonated with the people i wanted it to connect with, people entering or about to enter the job market.
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
thanks for the advice, but i actually didnt send it back to him, i just posted it here. And honestly, I've been making major label records for 21 years, I have complete job security, for the most part i really dont care what people think of me. This will, and already has, resonated with the people i wanted it to connect with, people entering or about to enter the job market.
Kanye West is going to be very disappointed in your behavior here, Mr Lewis. Oh, and you can kiss your grammy nods goodbye, too.

Have a nice life.

Ken Lewis
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeatsWilsonian View Post
Ken, I have a serious, possibly dumb, question to ask: what would be the appropriate email subject title when someone reaches out for an internship? I know people contact you through various sites, so I'm wondering how you would prefer it to be labeled to separate it from business inquiries. Thanks in advance.
Well, personally, i would prefer people not contact me about internships since i am not hiring, but for other people

maybe something like

Internship Inquiry or Internship or Internship request or maybe even Seeking Internship

i think any of those would work. And as much as i typically hate being addressed as "Mr. Lewis" if you are looking for a job from me that is the ONLY acceptable salutation.
Ken Lewis
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _Mark View Post
You don't care if someone has experience in their own home studio? I would think that would be a big basis for them, as that teaches the person plenty.
Clearly you dont read resumes often. I think someone like BGrotto might best answer this.
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21st February 2013
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Yikes. That escalated quickly...

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I777
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21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
Well, personally, i would prefer people not contact me about internships since i am not hiring, but for other people

maybe something like

Internship Inquiry or Internship or Internship request or maybe even Seeking Internship

i think any of those would work. And as much as i typically hate being addressed as "Mr. Lewis" if you are looking for a job from me that is the ONLY acceptable salutation.
Haha, thank you. I ask not to bother you for a job, but as a reference for the future. Much appreciated. Oh, and if someone doesn't know how to address the person their seeking a job from properly, I'd say they're screwed right from jump.
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21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Lewis View Post
Clearly you dont read resumes often. I think someone like BGrotto might best answer this.
The short of it is, nobody at the studio gives a damn about your engineering skills. You're not there to engineer. You're not even there to assist. Those jobs go to the interns that prove themselves and earn it.

In fact, few things put me off more than hearing about some kid's home studio, or his mix tape, or the ep he recorded for his friends' band. I don't care, and it's not why I hired you. It literally doesn't factor in to the decision at all.
Ken Lewis
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#29
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgrotto View Post
The short of it is, nobody at the studio gives a damn about your engineering skills. You're not there to engineer. You're not even there to assist. Those jobs go to the interns that prove themselves and earn it.

In fact, few things put me off more than hearing about some kid's home studio, or his mix tape, or the ep he recorded for his friends' band. I don't care, and it's not why I hired you. It literally doesn't factor in to the decision at all.
^^^^THAT
#30
21st February 2013
Old 21st February 2013
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Anyone who took that the wrong way isn't ready for the real world in any aspect, period.

Ken came here and gave away more useful information, for free mind you, and people don't like how the message was worded.....

Take everything in, leave your feelings at the door.

Finding a job in any field is tough, and this message transfers to anything.

I had to find a personal assistant a few months ago (my slave job is in finance) and experienced this too. You can't be vanilla. You must be on your A game at all times. Someone is always more qualified than you, but the total package is really what matters.
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