Making the Most of Internships Part II: 5 Ways to Enlighten, Empower and Employ

In Making the Most of Internships Part I we discussed all the various reasons internships are beneficial to those who are trying to break into the music business and how to use them in the most effective manner. In Part II we discuss why these internships can be just as beneficial to the employer and how.

After spending a few years as an intern, and then employee, at various major labels I learned a thing or two about how the industry views the internship world – it’s a revolving door; if one doesn’t work out, there will be 20 more trying to push through. As the sales coordinator at Astralwerks, since I was the rookie, it was also my job to hire all of the interns for the label. Just coming from an Revolving Door l IXiiV Records, LLCinternship myself, I wanted to make it the most exciting and worthwhile time these newbies would have all summer, as Marcelle and many others at WEA had done for me (a rarity in this industry). I knew from friends of mine that not all interns were as lucky as I was to be surrounded by people who appreciated them – many others paid no attention to their interns, gave them nothing to do but make coffee runs and copies, and barely knew one intern from the next.

Though it may be easy to abuse interns since such a revolving door exists when you run a large corporation, small business owners, especially in the music business, cannot afford to act so cavalier. Interns are often the backbone of a company, as you, the overseer, may not have the time or resources to dedicate to covering the small but important tasks. When starting IXiiV, Vicki and I both agreed that the only way to get where we wanted to be was with some extra help and that the support we received would be priceless and treated as such.

Part I discussed tips for interns to take advantage of to get the most from their experience and to make the greatest impression on their employer in hopes of a full-time position. However, if you, as the business owner, do not show these interns the respect they deserve and find ways to make this oft-unpaid position worth their while, why should they put the effort in to impress you? Below are 5 ways you can ensure that your interns, or anyone who works for you for that matter, will not only want to work for you, but will want to work hard for you.

As always, we invite you to read our tips and join us in a discussion below by leaving your thoughts, questions or additional tips.

If You Can’t Pay in Dollars, Pay in Perks

Many start-ups, unless backed by financial investors or generous business loans, cannot afford to take on employees in the early stages. However, without the extra help, it is very difficult for any new business to get to that level to begin hiring. 

Backbone l IXiiV Records, LLCIn order for your business to grow and expand, interns and other volunteer workers are crucial for you to be available to attend to the various aspects of running a business while resting assured the details are being handled. Working in the music industry in particular can mean late nights scouring clubs and venues for talent or supporting current talent, unpredictable hours and ever-changing schedules; it also requires an ability to work with an array of creative, demanding, and erratic personalities.

While the music industry is a business, it is anything but your typical 9-5 job. Whether you’re a label owner, producer, manager, or booking agent, you should think of yourself as a creative doctor – you are always on call. With such a demanding schedule, anyone who works for you will most likely find him- or herself juggling many demands as well. However, it is important to remember that while they may be eager to help you out, this is not their business; it is your business, your dream. Therefore, it is essential, especially if you are unable to pay your workers, that you put in the effort to provide other perks and special treats to show them that they are appreciated.

This does not mean you have to bend over backwards to accomplish this; more often than not it is the little gestures that mean the most. For example, as discussed in Part I when I was assigned to a computer that was in the merchandise closet, my bosses made a sign that said Suzanne’s Office and placed it on the door. Once in a while they even knocked before entering. It was a small, funny gesture that really made me feel a part of the team. While at Astralwerks, many of the employees tried to make sure to assign interns to work shows that their favorite Astralwerks artists were performing, or invite them to a meeting in which the artist would be making an appearance and introduce them at the end. At IXiiV we encourage our intern, Adam, to forge his own path and create his own job responsibilities based on what he is passionate about.

Train For Their Future Like It Is Your Own

While there will always be people looking to break into the music industry via unpaid internships, it can benefit a small business owner more to invest the proper time and energy training his or her interns in hopes of one day taking them on as full-time employees, once the business reaches that level as discussed above.

Additionally, regardless of whether or not your intern stays with your company or moves on elsewhere, the training you provide will reflect your business and its reputation. Avoid looking at your intern as temporary help; even if your time with them is temporary, your company will forever be on their resume. Wherever they go to work after you, the training you have provided, or failed to provide, will reflect in their work at future companies. Providing other companies with well-trained workers can speak volumes of your abilities as a business owner and leader. View an investment in your intern is an investment in your growth.

Stay in touch with your interns after they leave, should they leave, and support their growth; it can very well lead to new opportunities and connections for your own business.

Your Own Personal Staffing Agency

As most summer interns come in the form of college students or recent graduates, it would behoove small business owners to reach out and create relationships with each intern’s school or alma mater by contacting the schools’ cooperative or career services department and offering internships to their students. Such relationships can provide your business with a steady pool of interns and possible employee candidates, when you are ready.

It is important to note that many schools require certain assurances from the firms they work with, as it is a cooperative experience. Many businesses are required to submit performance evaluations of each student they take on, as well as proving a specified number of training hours, etc. Be sure to ask each school what is required and request an information package if available.

Search For An Intern Like An Employee, Find A Perfect Fit

In your search for interns, be sure to first decide on what it is you are looking for, as well as what it is you can provide. If you are going to work at making it worth their while and want them to work hard for you, you shouldn’t just accept the first person who comes along. Interview each candidate and make sure their values and personality reflect those of your business. Also have a list of tasks and training sessions ready before bringing someone on in order to make the transition a smooth one. If you don’t have a steady stream of work to be done, bringing on an intern may not be the best next step for your business.

After evaluating your needs and resources, you might decide that a virtual intern is better for your business.

According to,

Business Know How Quote l IXiiV Records, LLC

As the above site suggests, you can try out, (for entrepreneurial internships), and as these resources allow employers to post internship listings for free. Perfect Fit l IXiiV Records, LLCKnow Whether or Not You Are REQUIRED to Pay Your Interns

Some businesses, regardless of their size, are required to pay their workers, and even cover them with Workers Compensation Insurance. As a business owner it is your responsibility to know what laws you must follow. To help make sure you are in compliance, be sure to check out the U.S. Department of Labor’s website to find out which requirements apply to your business.

According to a NY Times article, The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not, while there are 6 federal criteria that the Department of Labor outlines in the above link regarding business’ requirements to pay interns, there are also additional state statues,

NY Times Quote l IXiiV Records, LLC

As always, make sure you consult a lawyer when in need of any clarification on city, state and federal business laws.

Interns are not personal assistants, so keep the coffee runs to a minimum. Whether it’s an introduction to someone they admire, asking for their input during company meetings, or creating a set of business cards with their name and title on it, the little extras can often make the difference between having burnt-out, disgruntled interns and ones that feel appreciated and motivated to help you reach your goals. Pairing these tips with the knowledge of what’s required by law when hiring interns will undoubtedly lead to a successful internship experience for all involved.

All photos courtesy of:  Published with permission.


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