For the past three years, twice a year, my company is paired with two or three Cornell undergraduate students in an alumni program Cornell calls “Externship Sponsorship”. For about a week, my workload shifts to account for planning discussion sessions with my “externs”, setting up interviews with industry experts, and managing tasks that will not only provide value for them, but also contribute to my business. I love that they are called “externs” because it reminds me that this is their exit from college, even if just for a few weeks, to explore a new industry, to examine other fields of their interests and see what else is possible. “Intern” seems to be such a corporate word implying someone is coming “in” to help me. (You can read my article on my own internship experience here.) While they’re here, we do interchange “intern” and “extern” often, but the sentiment is there- this is for them.
This week, I was lucky to have three students, two of whom (Jessica and Yusong) are English majors and focusing on comedy writing. (This was a new one for me. I usually get music, communications or film majors.) The third student, Becca, is a communications major, looking to go into media law. Becca is doing the externship remotely from California, which requires a whole other set of plans, but that’s for another day. The two in-house externs stayed in my home and worked in my studio for the week. We took breaks to go to coffee shops, drive to the cliffs, watch some Flight Of The Concords and Galavant, but mostly, it was a 9am-7pm gig, nonstop.
I’m always a tad nervous to host in-house externs. This is only my second time doing it. The usual (and so very typical of the artist side of me) voices in my head sound like “what if they get bored?” and “do you really have anything to contribute to them?” and the likes. Every move I make for 5 days gets observed. If that’s not motivation to get some work done, I’m not sure what is! Luckily, these guys came in a time where I’m developing a lot of new copy for the new direction of my company, while gathering loads of research about music in branding and marketing. We wrote scripts for info videos, edited new articles and wrote new bio blurbs. They had a Skype call with writer/director/producer Joanna Bowzer to talk about creating a script, funding a film, and what happens after it’s done. We had thirty priceless Skype minutes with four comedy writers from CollegeHumor.com. I gave a workshop about writing a perfect pitch email, they learned how to drive a Logic session, and they found their voice on Twitter. I look back, and my fingers are crossed that this was enough, that they got what they came for.
Because I sure as heck did. (I just deleted a whole paragraph about all the stuff these guys did for CBE Music, and it’s really not relevant- they did a lot!)
Then, in a response to a very open-ended hour-long assignment called “write a piece on anything, and have it connect to CBE Music in any capacity by at least 1%”, I received this email from Yusong:
5 Things I Learned While Interning at CBE Music
1) How to be an Independent Musician
Everyone, at some point, has the thought, “Oh, I want to make music!”. But the more people start thinking about it, they get worried about things like finding the right equipment, learning the right software, or even how to write a song that people will actually listen to.
But by working with CBE Music, I’ve learned that you can create a fully functional studio-space in your home (all on your own!), that the recording software isn’t as scary as it seems, and that there’s a ton of resources and E-Courses out there for aspiring musicians.
2) How to market yourself
Look, everyone dreams about going into a job interview, saying “I’m awesome”, and getting the job on the spot, but that’s never going to work in real life. Learning to sell yourself, learning to make yourself look appealing as possible (and I don’t mean appealing like Abercrombie and Fitch, I mean appealing like, “oh, this person can actually do this job”) is really important in any career. At CBE Music, I’ve learned how to market myself, and how to chase my career goals.
3) How to write, creatively and commercially
This one’s a little off topic, but it’s important to me. I’ve always had more of a passion for writing, and CBE Music has accommodated for that, arranged meetings with feature-film writers, as well as writers for CollegeHumor.
So, there’s that. Back on topic!
4) How to get money as an independent artist
Yeah—I don’t know what I was thinking, I always thought that if I wrote a movie, it would just happen (look, I’m 19). But in terms of crowdfunding, writing a pitch, and learning about different financing plans, I’ve now got a better idea about how to turn my dream movie into reality.
5) Establishing a career
I think everyone my age is worried about their career. But after learning about the history and creation of CBE Music, I’ve learned that you are really in control of what you do with your career. No matter what your goals are, you can take real, tangible steps in making that career happen.
So don’t worry.
And I melt.
(You can follow Yusong on twitter @YusongL.)