January 25, 2013

Intern FAQ: Am I Too Old to Intern?

When it comes to interning in the music industry, there are certain questions that are fairly common, so we've started this Intern FAQ to help you address those (and we welcome you to submit your own question). We've previously addressed a question relating to just how old you have to be to start interning and getting involved in music industry: But, then we got a question about the converse situation. Namely, can you be too old for an internship? And, if there is a point where you are too old to intern, how do you get started when you've decided to break into (or return to) the music business. Let's address this by breaking it down into a few smaller questions.

Will I be taken seriously as an older internship applicant? 
It'd be great to say that age discrimination doesn't exist (or any form of discrimination for that matter), but unfortunately it does and it's impossible to guarantee you won't face it. Conversely, there's also a real possibility you will actually get more respect because of your professionalism, maturity, and experience. You'll also have the added advantage of being available for immediate hire, unlike those who need to wait till after graduation and hope for an opportunity then. If you really are interested in learning about a new industry or gaining more experience through an internship, don't let the naysayers interfere no matter what your age is.

What issues will I face as an older intern?
One of the biggest struggles may actually be finding an internship opportunity that doesn't require college credit, as many do, but luckily we've already addressed that (click the link). Another issue may actually being dealing with you own ego because there's a chance your intern boss will be younger and have spent fewer years worker than you and you need to decide for yourself if that is something you will be ok. Most internships are unpaid so another important thing to consider is whether or not you can actually afford to do an internship when you may have bills, a family, and other responsibilites younger interns might not.

What if you have previous experience but are going back to it ?
If you have already spent time working in the music industry before that should make your life a lot easier. Start by catching up on any news, current events, new industry terms, and any other information you may have missed out on during your hiatus. Brush up on old skills by attending workshops and reviewing old projects. Then, get in contact with your old network and let them know you'll be looking for new opportunities. Ask them for advice and ask that they pass on any jobs they hear about.

Do you have to intern?
Do you have to do an internship to get started when you already have experience working at other jobs in a different industry? Not necessarily. It depends. If you've decided to go from being an accountant to a sound engineer, probably. But if you want to go from working at one of the big four accounting firms to being an accountant for a record label, that could be a pretty smooth transition. Sure, there is industry jargon to learn, but it will be a lot easier if you have a background in a similar job function and not everyone who gets a job in music has a musc background. If you have relevant experience, use it to seek a similar job within the music industry. Read books, blogs and industry trades about the music industry to learn the specifics.  Join a professional organization (such as The Recording Academy, CMA, NARIP, Women in Music, etc.) to learn new things and network. If you do have relevant experience you may even be able to create your own opportunities through freelance work and other creative efforts.

What do you think? How can an someone who already has experience in another industry transition into a career in music?