When I was a 16-18 year old Music Technology student I invested a lot of my time and energy into finding myself work experience opportunities at recording studios in the Greater London area. Sadly, my efforts were in vain - I never got offered any work experience placements. Several years later when my recording studio business was in its second year I started receiving a lot of phone and email enquiries requesting work experience from Music Technology students. These enquiries for work experience reminded me of the struggles I faced when I was a student looking for work experience in recording studios so this led to the decision to offer a handful of two-week work experience placements over the year to a couple of schools I had close connections with.
This article lists a selection of Pros and Cons based on my own past experiences of being a work experience facilitator. If you are considering offering work experience to students in your recording studios then the following points may help you make an informed decision.
Give Something Back
As I said at the start of this article, I couldn't find any work experience when I was a student. When I got to a point in my career when I was fortunate enough offer students work experience I didn't think twice about it, at the time it felt like the right thing to do. I was lucky enough to study Music Technology at one of the best educational establishments in the UK, I felt if I offered work experience to music technology students I would be giving a little something back to an industry that, so far, had been very good to me.
Learn Through Teaching
- Good work experience students ask lots of questions
- Great work experience students ask fewer questions but somehow ask questions that are more focused or to-the-point.
It can be very easy for us music producer professionals to forget the reasons behind why do we do certain processes in the studio, especially when we are in the throughs of producing a song. A lot of the skills and techniques we learnt and use in our workflows are mostly ingrained in our instincts so we often work on autopilot modes. Great work experience students question our actions and thought processes in the studio and I found this to be a really refreshing thing as it got me thinking more about what I'm doing suppose to what I need to do.
Developing Managerial Skills
Work experience students will gain skills and learn from interactions in your studio workplace at no cost to your business - There is another side to the coin that shouldn't be overlooked. If you haven't managed anybody before in a professional capacity then work experience students will enable you to develop leadership and managerial skills at no extra cost. The work experience door swings both ways.
It's A Job Finding Jobs
One of my work experience students worked with me at a bad time of the year - my business had a two-week slump in work. This happens, peaks and troughs are part and parcel of running a business. This quiet time meant I had to quickly find work and clients. Sadly, this slump also meant there wasn't much work for the student to do or learn from as I had to have a lot of meeting with clients just to get the booking in. There were also quite a few times when I had to work on sensitive tasks that didn't require a second set of eyes over my shoulder such as accounting, internet SEO and emails. At these times I had to find tasks for the students but this took my attention away from the jobs I had to action. As a result, my tasks either got pushed back or I simply didn't complete all my tasks to the best of my abilities.
Don't assume that your clients will be happy with a work experience student sitting in their paid studio sessions. This was brought to my attention a few times when two separate clients told me in private that they felt slightly uneasy with an extra person in the studio. They were not keen having someone they didn't know listen in to their vocal takes and mistakes. In all honesty, this was the main reason why I stopped offering work experience as I didn't want to run the risk of making my clients feel uneasy in their paid sessions.
Health & Saftey
Always ensuring that clients are safe and clear of any potential dangers in the studio is a challenge but throw in a work experience student and the responsibilities on one's shoulders start to get quite heavy. Recording studios are not dangerous places by nature but many small trip hazards do crop up in large tracking sessions. The schools I collaborated with had to undertake site checks to ensure my studio and the building it was in were both safe for the student to work in. My business also had to pay for the correct insurance for work experience students as well.
Share Your Experiences
Those are my pros and cons for hiring work experience students in recording studios based completely on my experiences as a past work experience facilitator. We would love to hear your experience of working with work experience students so please share in the comments below for the Pro Tools Expert Community.