Choosing an Internship

Katrina Leshan has spent the last few weeks interning with 5HE before she heads off on her next great adventure for the summer.  Read the blog post below to find out more about Katrina’s internship hunt for this summer.  And stay tuned — Katrina helped out at fresh inc for a couple of days and wrote a post about her experience there as well!

Katrina Leshan HeadshotI have been interested in music administration for quite some time. During my undergraduate career at Southern Methodist University, I worked as the Associate Director of a contemporary music concert series, The [Untitled] Festival. I found great joy in marketing these events, and in supporting the performers so that their concerns could be solely focused on performance, not on the logistics surrounding their time onstage. I was fortunate to attend many well-run music festivals during my undergrad as well and wanted to learn as much as I could about how those organizations and their artists in residence operate. All of this goes to say: I had a healthy appetite for learning as I looked toward a summer internship after the first year of my Masters degree at Eastman, and was hungry for the secrets behind these organizationssuccess.

I started looking for internship opportunities in October 2013, long before applications for internship positions were online. I made a list of all the areas in which I was looking to improve my skills: sales, development, marketing, festival management, and communication. With this list open, I began to search for new music organizations that I felt could help me with develop these skills.  I started my list with ensembles that I had worked with in the past or who I loved to hear perform, as well as festivals in which I had been a participant. I also looked up a lot of people on Facebook and LinkedIn who I consider to be successful performers and administrators, and searched through their history to answer questions like: What organizations have they worked for in the past? What festivals have they attended? What schools did they go to? Who are they connected to?

Once I gathered a substantial list, I made a document that highlighted important aspects of that organizations past and present work. The next step was to categorize: ensembles, artist representation companies, new music organizations, venues, and festivals. I made a standard resumé for each type of potential workplace, and then customized a resumé for each organization based on the skills and requirements I had listed earlier. Unless I had a personal contact at an organization, I used a formal and standardized email to introduce myself and state my desire to work with the organization, and attached my resumé to each email.

The process of getting a phone interview was less a process and more a constant stream of emails. Less than ten percent of the organizations I approached responded to my initial introduction. In November I sent second introductory emails to the people I really wanted to work with if they didnt initially respond.

Once my interviews were scheduled, some common questions I faced included:

  • Why do you want to work for us in particular?

  • How did you hear about our organization/ensemble?

  • What projects are you specifically hoping to work on with us?

  • What do you think has prepared you to work with us?

  • What else are you doing this summer?

  • Do you have any questions?

I was told prior to interviewing over the phone that being myself was the most important thing I could do, and I would give the same advice to anyone who is going into a phone interview. Its difficult to form a connection when you cant look someone in the eye, but you can still share aspects of yourself through stories you tell and questions you ask. I found that having questions for your interviewer and making requests of the internship are both looked upon favorably, because both show that you have thought in depth about doing the internship.

In the end, I committed to three internships. Im writing from my current internship with Fifth House Ensemble here in Chicago, where Ive been learning about the sales aspect of running an ensemble.

Before I began the interview process for these internships, I was asked: what are you missing on your resumé that you would like to develop during the summer? I encourage anyone who is looking for an internship to consider the same thing.

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