Last year, we addressed a common question of college and high school students: is it possible to be too young to intern? The answer was, not really (well, pursuant to child labor and employment laws anyway). Then, we got an email from a reader who was excited to learn that she could start interning now but was frustrated by the fact that everything listed online seemed to require college credit. What's a girl, or guy, to do? It's true that most internships require college credit and it can be difficult to find one that doesn't but there are a few ways to find one, which is good news whether you're in high school, a college graduate, or just want to do more internships than what is required by your school (and in any of these cases good for you and your willingness to go above and beyond).
Generally speaking, it's the large companies that will require college credit. So, try to focus your search on places like independent labels, boutique PR and booking agencies, and moderate sized venues. These companies are wonderful places to intern because fewer employees tends to mean more opportunities for interns to get directly involved with important projects and build strong relationships with the company's staff.
Another resource for finding an internship without college credit is to look at local businesses. So, start with local music business like venues, radio stations, and studios. Even if the only local "music business" is a little coffee shop that hosts open mic nights, it can be still a great place to get started and have something to put on your resume. You'll probably still learn a thing or two at that little coffee shop about interacting with musicians, live sound, and booking and promoting gigs. If there are any public radio stations or non-profit music organizations near you (such as an NPR affiliate radio station), they might offer volunteer opportunities. These are good ways to get your foot in their door and interact with people at that business without needing to be a college student.
Join a Street Team
This isn't exactly an internship, but street teams, which are usually run by an artist's record label or management company, are a great way to get experience, work with a band you love, and build a relationship with someone in the industry that could lead to something more. Street teams involve promoting a band you like online and in person by tweeting, blogging, reviewing music, hanging posters, etc. Street teams are especially popular in the alternative and pop punk scenes but today many artists have a street team. The best ways to find street teams are probably just by searching for them on Twitter, Google, and any other site that will allow you to search the phrase "street team" and/or "street team" with the name of a musician you like. One great example is the Fueled by Ramen Street Team and a lot of musicians tend to host their teams on Fancorps. You can even join a professional street team.
When you're looking for an internship don't just send out a few emails and hope for the best. Do some research, pick up the phone and ask (in a polite and professional manner) if the company is looking for interns and how to apply. Not all companies list opportunities online and you may find something you would have missed otherwise. You can even go in person to a few of your favorite local (and smaller) venues and ask if they could use a hand. Just remember to always be polite and professional without being too pushy or pretentious.