Hello! for all those of you running professional studios out there i was wondering if you could give me some advice.
In a four or five months i finish my music technology degree, and as a result i plan to start contacting studios soon asking if i can volunteer for a day or two a week unpaid, in order to further my knowledge (and hopefully get a job in the end). If any of you guys have taken on people like me (straight out of uni with no real hands on experience) what do you look for? What areas of knowledge are essential? Do you look for a certain type of person rather than someone who knows audio engineering inside out? Do you like to see a portfolio of previous work?
Any advice would be brilliant, and i know i will probably be looking for ages and ages but its worth me knowing what i need to brush up on, and how best to go about approaching people (i can imagine most studio's hating the tides of emails they get about jobs!).
I look for someone who has his own transportation and lunch money, people seem to like them, and they have a basic understanding of the process. They take care of themselves and people's property. If they already know it all, it usually doesn't work out too well. If they don't know what NOT to say to a client, it usually doesn't work out too well.
People skills, a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if that means taking out trash (if you don't do it, I do, so stop complaining), cleaning, fixing, etc. I don't need someone who can mix already, just an honest, ready to work helper that knows enough to be helpful, but not so much that I have to un-train him. You gotta wanna work. Gotta show up early and stay late. Make yourself indispensible, and you will be hired out of necessity.
It seems every up and coming engineer I train to work with me ends up getting a pretty good job somewhere, and I have to start over with someone else!! It's fun!
Good soldering skills and basic electronics knowledge are also a big plus in my shop.
Be willing to work long hours with a smile on your face, don't complain about doing shitty tasks like cleaning and taking out the trash (like the previous poster said, somebody has to do it). It's fundamental to know when to shut up and when to ask some questions, and try to quickly understand the engineer's workflow so you can always be a step ahead - your main job is to help them getting their job done smoothly.
Be careful with the gear and always ask if you're not sure about how stuff works. It's better than damaging something.
Always be helpful and courteous with clients.
Most of the really important stuff is just common knowledge, but it's amazing how many interns can't understand this from the get-go.
All about the attitude. Never wait to be asked for something, try to use as much initiative as possible without getting in the way - from asking if the drumkit needs to be packed down to offering cups of tea to doing the hoovering in the morning.. We've all done it and it shows that you want to be there and you can be relied upon to help everything run smoothly. Offer opinions if you're asked but do NOT think you know it all and try to learn as much as you can every day.. Also, don't try to be best friends with every band that comes in, respect that it's their private time in the studio.
If you act like this you generally end up hanging out with the bands and the producers and engineers will respect you for your hard work... In no time, you'll have someone making the tea for you too... :0) Good luck, have fun!!