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"Engineers" that have never Assisted or Interned Consoles
Old 10th November 2009
  #1
Gear Addict
 

"Engineers" that have never Assisted or Interned

***Disclaimer Do not take this post personally, I am not talking about you personally, this is the moan zone. So don't get your panties in a knot about it*****

You know what has me moaning these days, the decline of appreciation for apprenticeship in our business these days. I read so many threads about how interning is being taken advantage of and what not. Yes there are circumstances when people take advantage of interns but then it is not a professional internship. What originally attracted me to our business was how it was a trade and apprenticeship was a big part of that. Because of this I wanted to learn from the best, so you know what I did. I packed up and moved to LA, lived in a very shady place, ate very little and got to watch and learn from the best.

I see very few aspiring engineers here seeking out a mentor. Way more seem to have the attitude that after reading GS for a year they know everything. At the same time they have never stepped into a "professional" studio or seen a professional's workflow. Next thing you know they are charging $50 a mix and spreading the same myths as everyone else and everyone wonders about the decline in sound quality. Guess to sum up my post, if you are a bedroom warrior that thinks they are "pro" and have never been in a real studio or assisted a much more experienced engineer, you need to get out and do so. You will realize you know much less then you think. There is a lot of info on GS but it is only part of the story.
Old 10th November 2009
  #2
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frans's Avatar
I hope I get a decent intern some day... I won't run my place until I am 60 and somebody got to take over all that gear. Last year I had one but after three months his dedication declined. Mind you, I didn't make him clean the toilets or something, he just sat, watched, help set up things, listened to my explanations why I do things the way I do them in the context of this song... duh!
With recording mags and websites there's a lot of information around and too much of it's just blah - like "how to do mastering at home". Then bands/aspiring engineers come to me only to hear what they don't want to hear: mastering is like building a battleship at home in your backyard: you can't do it, period.
Learning how to hear stuff right - you don't learn that by reading. But as there is no other (reasonably short, read: a few years) way to learn the craft, those who thirst hard enough will find their way to the places where the action is.
Old 10th November 2009
  #3
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PhilR's Avatar
 

Unfortunately there simply aren't enough mentors to go around. Especially in the UK.
Old 10th November 2009
  #4
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The Listener's Avatar
I would love to be intern in a nice studio, but most here are one man operation that barely cover their costs and understand someone who is there to mostly observe and learn as a nuisance. So my internship was when we recorded with different bands/projects in studios and I could watch and learn what they did. I must confess - those engineers were mostly not on the level of some pros that come here. I learned from GS and magazines more than from those people who also (some of them) think that giving away advice is helping build their competition. Which is partly true, but still... The most advice I got from a few casual meetings with a locally famous creative producer (prog rock, hip hop, industrial, electronica), who explained me some concepts of hook, arrangement, reverbs and delays, analog synths, what are those Roland (TR, TB) boxes for, compression, etc. Oh, those internet free early 90's.

I am past this stage, but would still work for free and assist someone like Daniel Lanois or Andy Wallace for half a year.. Even only to cook coffee, tune percussion, maybe even touch a fader here and there, set up a more remote compressor, test microphones, connect cables, etc. Only if I could sit behind them when they mix!!
Old 10th November 2009
  #5
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The Beatsmith's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
Unfortunately there simply aren't enough mentors to go around. Especially in the UK.
thumbsup
Old 10th November 2009
  #6
But then-- as time goes on, and the whole grand edifice of the Way Things Used To Work gradually slips into the sea, maybe just maybe the practical usefulness of interning is fading away. Young'uns will always need role models-- examples of how to do it-- I credit Greg Steele from Derek Studios for demonstrating to me what exactly the dedicated engineer does, how to run a session, how to spark enthusiasm in the musicians, how to manage flow and vibe and atmosphere--

But the future is not about big rooms and big boards and banks of gear anymore-- it's about your own, personal, "miniaturized" set-up. Which you need to learn the in's and out's of, the do's and don't's, the what works and what doesn't. And you also need to learn how to operate in an entrepreneurial way to scare up customers, do your own little sort of "branding," it's all about the independence, rather than the following the footsteps.
Old 10th November 2009
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

While I do think it is important for the young, upcoming engineer to learn from qualified, practicing individuals, there simply aren't interning or assisting opportunities that are worthwhile. I myself have inquired in the past about such positions, and was asked to PAY the studios to be an intern or assistant. They want me to PAY THEM to put in 40 or more hours a week.

Tell me, how am I supposed to make rent in New York, while paying $30 a day just to get into manhattan, plus paying the studio a daily fee to "intern" for 40 hours a week- which most likely means delete junk edit files and clean bathrooms for the entire day? If you can make this work, then you're either a genius, or you come from money. For normal people, this simply isn't even close to being an option. Perhaps you think being a audio engineer is a job that should only be available to society's elite?

To me, the best path to learning this stuff was as a musician, getting paid to do sessions on the other side of the glass, and picking up as many engineering tidbits as I could.
Old 10th November 2009
  #8
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idylldon's Avatar
 

I agree with Joel.

While I will always believe in the worth of an apprenticeship process, it doesn't seem as though it's as valued as it once was. While there is no real substitute for a direct one-on-one mentoring relationship, there are so many resources available now for someone interested in audio that a self-motivated and disciplined person can learn the necessary skills, albeit it might be a longer process. Who knows? Maybe this system will generate folks who break the mold and forge ahead into new territory. The industry certainly could use more of this right now instead of "No, this is the way we've always done it." That has been the kiss of death to many of the businesses I've worked for.

Cheers,
--
Don
Old 10th November 2009
  #9
teo
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teo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by idylldon View Post
I agree with Joel.

While I will always believe in the worth of an apprenticeship process, it doesn't seem as though it's as valued as it once was. While there is no real substitute for a direct one-on-one mentoring relationship, there are so many resources available now for someone interested in audio that a self-motivated and disciplined person can learn the necessary skills, albeit it might be a longer process. Who knows? Maybe this system will generate folks who break the mold and forge ahead into new territory. The industry certainly could use more of this right now instead of "No, this is the way we've always done it." That has been the kiss of death to many of the businesses I've worked for.

Cheers,
--
Don

I think there's no substitute for having a good mentor. (edit: which you actually said, I just re-read your post! )
That's why our profession is declining, beacuse once the only way to get into it was to pay your dues and learn from good professionals, while now everybody and their mother are "engineers".
It's really humbling to sit in sessions where the professional level is at the top. I've learned more in the top session that I've sat into, not even assisting, than I could ever do by engineering by myself...

On the other hand, they way interns are ****ed over in studios is out of control...paying to take out the thrash and clean the toilet, even if I agree that is money better spent than going to SAE or Fullsail, is just wrong. No need to make money on aspiring young people.
Old 10th November 2009
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by frans View Post
I hope I get a decent intern some day... I won't run my place until I am 60 and somebody got to take over all that gear. Last year I had one but after three months his dedication declined. Mind you, I didn't make him clean the toilets or something, he just sat, watched, help set up things, listened to my explanations why I do things the way I do them in the context of this song... duh!
With recording mags and websites there's a lot of information around and too much of it's just blah - like "how to do mastering at home". Then bands/aspiring engineers come to me only to hear what they don't want to hear: mastering is like building a battleship at home in your backyard: you can't do it, period.
Learning how to hear stuff right - you don't learn that by reading. But as there is no other (reasonably short, read: a few years) way to learn the craft, those who thirst hard enough will find their way to the places where the action is.
Will respond to everyone else as I get a chance today, in the middle of a session. Frans, great point! You mentioned the MOST important thing I left out, being able to hear someone work. Training your ear to hear what someone starts with and where they take it. Also how they "develop" their mix is very important. Not talking one session either. It helps greatly to have your ears "trained" to hear someone mixing everyday and how they work with sounds and parts of a song.
Old 10th November 2009
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilR View Post
Unfortunately there simply aren't enough mentors to go around. Especially in the UK.
Well I did not start out in UK, so I can not speak on experience about this. I can say that where I grew up, small town in the middle of the US, there wasn't many audio engineers around, so what did I do, I moved. I didn't need to move as far as I did, that was personal choice. But I find it hard to believe within a few hours there is not someone worth interning for. Everyone has different circumstances, but usually I consider this an excuse. Just want to add that in other countries I could understand this more, but not in the UK.
Old 10th November 2009
  #12
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rhythmtech's Avatar
 

everytime i read these posts it makes me sick.

me (and a few friends) would literally kill to intern under a good mentor. unfortunatly we just dont have the industry in ireland (other than the odd sporadic job popping up now and again)

waster interns overshadow all us good guys that would give anything for the chance
Old 10th November 2009
  #13
great post, Joel. that summed it up, really. the game has changed.

one of the problems is that the business, the tech, the "know-how" if you will has changed so much that even a lot of the so-called "old-timers" are getting shut out - those that you might have happily interned with 10 or 15 years ago are now needing new skills themselves to stay relevant. this obviously doesn't apply to everyone and it does depend on what sector of the industry you work in - from a purely recording angle, knowing mic placement is an art which will never be irrelevant. but knowing how to re-bias a tape deck, for example - as important as some people will have you believe it is (especially around these parts, I'm donning the flame suit as we speak) - really, how often are you gonna need to do that in the modern world?

engineering has evolved from an electrical pursuit to an IT pursuit. those that did not change with it are now extinct, save for a very select few.
Old 10th November 2009
  #14
Quote:
And you also need to learn how to operate in an entrepreneurial way to scare up customers, do your own little sort of "branding,"
Here at Rain Man Studios, we pride ourselves on having the smoothest 528Hz mixes in the industry. Yes, there are other studios who do a good job at other frequencies, and there's nothing wrong with that. But here at Rain Man Studios we are the 528Hz Company. You know how important the Love Frequency is to rock and roll, so come to the guys who know how to stroke that curve the best. Get it right up front, and it pays off back stage every time.
Old 10th November 2009
  #15
teo
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teo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
Here at Rain Man Studios, we pride ourselves on having the smoothest 528Hz mixes in the industry. Yes, there are other studios who do a good job at other frequencies, and there's nothing wrong with that. But here at Rain Man Studios we are the 528Hz Company. You know how important the Love Frequency is to rock and roll, so come to the guys who know how to stroke that curve the best. Get it right up front, and it pays off back stage every time.
LOL
Old 10th November 2009
  #16
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PhilR's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick_Money View Post
Well I did not start out in UK, so I can not speak on experience about this. I can say that where I grew up, small town in the middle of the US, there wasn't many audio engineers around, so what did I do, I moved. I didn't need to move as far as I did, that was personal choice. But I find it hard to believe within a few hours there is not someone worth interning for. Everyone has different circumstances, but usually I consider this an excuse. Just want to add that in other countries I could understand this more, but not in the UK.
Well speaking for myself; I'm 31 years old and much as I would love to spend time with a good "mentor", doing anything to learn whatever I could, I cannot live on fresh air and even in my teen years the notion of working every night just to cover the costs of working every day would rapidly kill any love I have for any career. Most of these great studios are based in major cities which bring majorly higher costs of living and to be honest doing ANYTHING which requires you to work for nothing with virtually zero chance of getting actual paid work at the end of it is just stupid. Really, it's ridiculous. Could you imagine spending years training to be a doctor in a world where virtually nobody ever got ill or died?

The "bedroom engineers" are no threat to anyone. They service a client base that would never enter a proper studio anyway. Who cares if myspace is filled with crappy, badly-recorded music recorded in bedrooms? In a years time it will be mostly forgotten. Those with ears and brains will eventually graduate from their bedrooms and move on to building studios of their own and all power to them! At least the studio business is a true meritocracy, you can't survive if you can't deliver results!
Old 10th November 2009
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick_Money View Post
Well I did not start out in UK, so I can not speak on experience about this. I can say that where I grew up, small town in the middle of the US, there wasn't many audio engineers around, so what did I do, I moved. I didn't need to move as far as I did, that was personal choice. But I find it hard to believe within a few hours there is not someone worth interning for. Everyone has different circumstances, but usually I consider this an excuse. Just want to add that in other countries I could understand this more, but not in the UK.
There are people here worth interning for... but as studios shut, those numbers dwindle. And you're competing with MANY other people to get their attention... and the people that can take on interns, well, I think they're worried enough in many cases about where their next meal is coming from let alone training someone who may be able to someday take work away from them, whether or not that's actually possible/true!
Old 10th November 2009
  #18
Lives for gear
 

I get cold-called about once a week by people offering to work for free as an apprentice...so it's not as if they aren't trying. The studios today are much smaller than they used to be on average, and the rates are far lower. The things I did as an apprentice in the 80's are often no longer relevant...manning the tape machines and patchbay has largely been automated away in the DAW. There is less recall work and when working track-at-a-time setting up mics isn't that difficult for the unaccompanied engineer.

These positions were hard to land in the 80's and while there are far, far more studios today there aren't many more apprenticeships available. You generally see assistants about as often as you see Neves and SSLs and the total number of those has remained roughly the same over the years.

My advice for people seeking these positions today is to be someone the producer or engineer likes having around rather than someone who can earn the position just by being useful. Go out and make friends in the scene and get introductions.

And the very best way to introduce yourself to a studio is to bring a paying client with you!
Old 10th November 2009
  #19
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-silent-sam-'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick_Money View Post
***Disclaimer Do not take this post personally, I am not talking about you personally, this is the moan zone. So don't get your panties in a knot about it*****

You know what has me moaning these days, the decline of appreciation for apprenticeship in our business these days. I read so many threads about how interning is being taken advantage of and what not. Yes there are circumstances when people take advantage of interns but then it is not a professional internship. What originally attracted me to our business was how it was a trade and apprenticeship was a big part of that. Because of this I wanted to learn from the best, so you know what I did. I packed up and moved to LA, lived in a very shady place, ate very little and got to watch and learn from the best.

I see very few aspiring engineers here seeking out a mentor. Way more seem to have the attitude that after reading GS for a year they know everything. At the same time they have never stepped into a "professional" studio or seen a professional's workflow. Next thing you know they are charging $50 a mix and spreading the same myths as everyone else and everyone wonders about the decline in sound quality. Guess to sum up my post, if you are a bedroom warrior that thinks they are "pro" and have never been in a real studio or assisted a much more experienced engineer, you need to get out and do so. You will realize you know much less then you think. There is a lot of info on GS but it is only part of the story.
End of the day..... for every useless bull**** intern that makes people not want to give internships, there is a useless bull**** engineer ripping kids off by giving them dead-end internships where they don't learn **** all.

People are too ****ing greedy these days....that's it that's all...

If the intern isn't pissing and moaning about working too hard and not getting paid, the engineer giving the internship, is using the intern for cheap labour and not giving anything back, including any kind of learning experience.

To many interns want to know everything and do everything without putting in the hard work and effort.

and at the same time....

To many engineers who have nothing to offer think interns are there JUST to do there bitch work.

There are ******s all over the place no matter which way you look.

If your a stupid lazy rich kid who got an internship JUST because your stupid rich dad knows some awesome engineer.... go **** yourself.

If your a stupid engineer who needs some kid to suck your dick to make you feel like a REAL engineer..... go **** yourself.

That will make it a-lot easier for the rest of us to get where we want to go.
Old 10th November 2009
  #20
Quote:
There are ******s all over the place no matter which way you look.

If your a stupid lazy rich kid who got an internship JUST because your stupid rich dad knows some awesome engineer.... go **** yourself.

If your a stupid engineer who needs some kid to suck your dick to make you feel like a REAL engineer..... go **** yourself.
I feel somehow that you are holding back. Try to relax and let yourself go and share your feelings. It's OK.
Old 10th November 2009
  #21
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-silent-sam-'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
I feel somehow that you are holding back. Try to relax and let yourself go and share your feelings. It's OK.
YYAYAARRRRRRARARAHGGGGG!!
Old 11th November 2009
  #22
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
But then-- as time goes on, and the whole grand edifice of the Way Things Used To Work gradually slips into the sea, maybe just maybe the practical usefulness of interning is fading away. Young'uns will always need role models-- examples of how to do it-- I credit Greg Steele from Derek Studios for demonstrating to me what exactly the dedicated engineer does, how to run a session, how to spark enthusiasm in the musicians, how to manage flow and vibe and atmosphere--

But the future is not about big rooms and big boards and banks of gear anymore-- it's about your own, personal, "miniaturized" set-up. Which you need to learn the in's and out's of, the do's and don't's, the what works and what doesn't. And you also need to learn how to operate in an entrepreneurial way to scare up customers, do your own little sort of "branding," it's all about the independence, rather than the following the footsteps.
I do agree things are a changing, the question is, is that good? Also I am not only referring to large console, public studios. I personally work at a private studio at a home. The catch is this "studio" is cut into the hill behind the main house. Has a SSL 900 AWS and a BCM 10, with tons of outboard and a large emphasis on instruments. Things are a changing, you might not mentor in same situation but you still mentor. Many producers/composers have there own studios and have multiple employees.

Maybe you don't need to think outside the box to get around a mentor instead think outside the box to find a mentor and not banging down the normal doors every audio grad bangs on.
Old 11th November 2009
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by spicemix View Post
...And the very best way to introduce yourself to a studio is to bring a paying client with you!
Nail, meet my friend Mr. Jackhammer.
Old 11th November 2009
  #24
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by silent-sam View Post
End of the day..... for every useless bull**** intern that makes people not want to give internships, there is a useless bull**** engineer ripping kids off by giving them dead-end internships where they don't learn **** all.

People are too ****ing greedy these days....that's it that's all...

If the intern isn't pissing and moaning about working too hard and not getting paid, the engineer giving the internship, is using the intern for cheap labour and not giving anything back, including any kind of learning experience.

To many interns want to know everything and do everything without putting in the hard work and effort.

and at the same time....

To many engineers who have nothing to offer think interns are there JUST to do there bitch work.

There are ******s all over the place no matter which way you look.

If your a stupid lazy rich kid who got an internship JUST because your stupid rich dad knows some awesome engineer.... go **** yourself.

If your a stupid engineer who needs some kid to suck your dick to make you feel like a REAL engineer..... go **** yourself.

That will make it a-lot easier for the rest of us to get where we want to go.
Well maybe your internship didn't go too well because of anger issues? Anyways just because there are bad interns out there, and just because there are engineers taking advantage of the situation doesn't mean mentoring is not an important step.

From my experience anyone that has worked there way up and also mentored is not going to take advantage of the situation. They have been there done that. Also someone that hasn't mentored, they go into my point of the moan and are the ones taking advantage of the situation.
Old 11th November 2009
  #25
Gear Addict
 

Also just to address a requiring theme I see. I would consider it silly to think having less trained, less knowledgeable, less pride in their careers, less experience, going to make an engineer that is going to "save" the industry.
Old 11th November 2009
  #26
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-silent-sam-'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick_Money View Post
Well maybe your internship didn't go too well because of anger issues? Anyways just because there are bad interns out there, and just because there are engineers taking advantage of the situation doesn't mean mentoring is not an important step.

From my experience anyone that has worked there way up and also mentored is not going to take advantage of the situation. They have been there done that. Also someone that hasn't mentored, they go into my point of the moan and are the ones taking advantage of the situation.
MY internship went great once I found an internship that wasn't bull****.

I guess one reason why this makes me so angry is that when you a guy with no money coming from a family with no money, and no other major skills to fall back on taking an internship is a very hard thing to do weather you are learning or not. When you are in that situation and you take an internship that turns out to be a bad internship (yeah there is such thing as a bad internship) it can be very financially devastating among other things. The only thing worse then putting the hard work and effort into something and getting NOTHING out of it..... is putting the hard work and effort into something and then realizing you are actually worse off then you where before you started. That makes me angry......

ON THE OTHER HAND

It also made me angry to see other interns, being lazy, pretty much looking like they would rather be anywhere else, and more or less "putting in there time" as if the fact that they had been inside a recording studio for so many hours ment they were an engineer even know they took nothing in.

I guess in a way I am agree'ing with you in that, the lack of appreciation for the position coming from both lazy interns and asshole engineers, makes me angry.


Engineers who are not qualified to give internships, and who are only interested in cheap labour make it way to hard to intern. If you aren't making SOME kind of progress and if you aren't learning SOMETHING you aren't interning..... It's a waste of time and these kinds of internships had set me back more then once when I was interning..... I mean seriously.... you can't intern and expect the world. You MUST be willing to work long and hard.....you must be willing to take out garbage and scrub toilets.

but come on.... YOU and ME and EVERYONE ELSE knows for a fact that there are WAY MORE "under qualified" audio engineers now a days then ever before. These are the guys ****ing kids over.... These are the guys wasting kids time..... these are the guys setting kids back.

On the other had....

Interns who are just lazy and who are just "putting in there time" make it just as hard for qualified engineers to GIVE internships..... giving the internship should be the easy part...and I do not blame any qualified engineer for not wanting to do internships if it's just going to be a total **** around and a waste of time.

So I agree with you..... and I don't doubt for one second that there are a-lot of NEW engineers who have the attitude that after reading GS for a year they know everything.... But I also don't doubt there are a-lot of new engineers who don't want to waste there time and get the **** around, or new engineers who have already got the **** around, who are actually willing to learn.

I guess with so many lazy interns and more un-qualified engineers then ever these days, there is no easy way to pick through ****ty interns and ****ty internships.

All I can say is that when I am 40 years old and I decide I want to share what I know with a younger engineer, that he comes to me before he goes to some other asshole, and that he ACTUALLY wants to learn.
Old 11th November 2009
  #27
Gear Maniac
 
b808's Avatar
 

I would love to intern.
Being located in the southeast doesnt help.

Many FS grads have left a really bad taste in all the studios down here. Altough some have made it the fact still remains that the music industry will continue to decline in all areas while number of people wanting to "make it big" rises leaving those who have the dream to work hard with little opportunities... being as it may that the few open intern positions are being sucked up by the hundreds who come out of those "schools" and then not doing a good job leaving the cheif engineer to have the desire to not want an intern anymore. Mesing it up for the rest of us.
Old 11th November 2009
  #28
Gear Addict
 

GREAT post Silent-Sam!! Defiantly get what you are saying and pretty much agree 100%. The "rich kids" in the industry do drive me crazy also, but from my experience, at least in LA, most don't last too long. The reason being engineering is far from the glamorous job people have in their heads.

Also sorry to hear about your bad internships. I know they are defiantly out there. I was lucky with my one and only internship. That doesn't mean I didn't clean the toilet every day, get everyones food, dust the plaques, take out the trash and scrub a 9000J 96 channel with a swab (my back hurts just thinking about it). I also knew I would never be hired at that studio, the assistant had been there for 7 years at that point and they were very upfront about it. What I did get was a boss that had been in the business for a loooonnngggg time that was willing to vouch for me to other professionals. Which is VERY important.

I also saw my fair share of lazy interns. How I handled it was, if my boss also noticed, I would offer to take their hours so they could be let go. This led to ridiculous hours, but at the same time showed I was serious. Also another reason was I got free meals if I was working, which was my main source of food. That boss is still close friend, brings me paid work regularly, and also to this day helps advice me with career advice.
Old 11th November 2009
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by b808 View Post
I would love to intern.
Being located in the southeast doesnt help.

Many FS grads have left a really bad taste in all the studios down here. Altough some have made it the fact still remains that the music industry will continue to decline in all areas while number of people wanting to "make it big" rises leaving those who have the dream to work hard with little opportunities... being as it may that the few open intern positions are being sucked up by the hundreds who come out of those "schools" and then not doing a good job leaving the cheif engineer to have the desire to not want an intern anymore. Mesing it up for the rest of us.

Yes internships are hard to come by these days, but that doesn't change the point, it is an important part to becoming an engineer. Trying looking in different places then the others, or move to where you can get an internship, if you truly want to pursue a career as an engineer. Anything else is generally excuses.
Old 11th November 2009
  #30
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bitman's Avatar
The closest I came in interning was a one night "how to mix" seminar at a local So. Cal Recording studio, where the owner and engineer showed us how to build up a mix from the drums up, then proceeded to introduce us to the Lynn Drum the he had and probably was obligated to demo for one reason or another.

Fun night and I was way so hooked.
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