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Each year, about 20 percent of the graduate student body at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, chooses to do an internship in their fourth semester. Most of these opportunities are arranged by the International Career Center (ICC), which also provides students with expert guidance, cutting-edge resources, and professional development experiences throughout the academic year.
“As years go by, we see that the master’s students who choose to do the fourth semester internship program are more likely to go into a full-time position quicker upon graduation in comparison to those students who opt out of the program. It is a great stepping stone for students to take between graduation and a full-time position,” says Stine Glismand, Director of the International Career Center.
Working and Learning
The objective of the internship program is to provide students with more experience in their field and to give them a taste of what a full-time position is like. This applies to Renjin Zhao, from the Global Entertainment and Music Business graduate program, who between September and December interns at MAC Presents, a music sponsorship and experiential agency based in New York.
“My role consists in researching brand and music partnerships with companies like Uber, Visa, Cal Jam Festival, and Citi. I am also developing a final internship project which consists in partnering an artist and a brand, and planning all sorts sponsorship activations. We are going to pitch this final project to everyone in the company as a final evaluation, and if successful, they might actually put it forward,” she says.
Artur Melo e Castro, from the same master’s degree program, is a data analyst at Red Bull in Austria, a job he landed after completing an internship at the company from mid-May until mid-November this year. “I take big data and transform it into concise business recommendations. This process usually involves collecting, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data, and building reports with useful conclusions and insights that will support management’s decision making, in this case, regarding online business development,” he says.
At the center of the picture, Melo e Castro attends a prototypes presentation as part of the graduate program:
Melo e Castro says he’s been learning an “incredible amount.” “The more I learn, the more I acknowledge there’s a lot more to explore. Besides the sheer scale of our digital operations, which in itself would be enough for me to have a positive experience at the company, the most constructive learnings I have gathered so far are learning the scientific, statistical, and analytical methodologies that need to be taken so as to analyze big data in a massive digital operation like Red Bull’s,” he adds.
What do employers look for in an intern? Christina Ruck, publishing operations coordinator at Songtrust, says that the answer is hardworking students that have a basic understanding of how music publishing works. “Our interns get projects from many different departments at Songtrust, so we depend on their flexibility and willingness to learn,” she says.
Benjamin Pirog has been working as a publishing operations intern at Songtrust under Ruck’s supervision. “I was responsible for fixing any errors that were created in Songtrust’s system, mostly revolving around the ingestion of song catalogs,” he says. Pirog hasn’t completed his internship which was due to finish in December as he was hired by the company as a full-time employee. He is now a licensing and administration coordinator, a position for which he applies the skills and knowledge he acquired in the Global Entertainment and Music Business graduate program.
“Entertainment law taught me the mindset for slowly working through contracts and understanding what the complex wording actually means. Publishing was important for my interview as I was able to speak to my knowledge of the process and complexity of sync deals,” he says. “Ben is extremely hard working and made sure to ask questions whenever he didn’t understand a complex publishing concept. His desire to learn about the industry and how our company fits into the industry was one of the main reasons Ben was hired as both and intern and full-time employee,” adds Ruck.
According to Glismand, 40–50 percent of master’s degree students doing the fourth semester internship program are offered a full-time position by the end of the semester. “This offer includes students who are offered positions at the company they’ve interned for, but also students who were offered a full-time position at another company,” she says.
Gaining Employability Skills
During the academic year, the ICC organizes regular workshops so students can polish their skills when applying for jobs. “Some take advantage of the hard skills that we provide guidance with, such as building resumes, writing cover letters, etc. Other students may find it’s more important to take away soft skills from our workshops, such as time management skills and networking tips,” says Glismand. Along with these workshops, the ICC provides individual advising appointments where students can get help for their respective needs.
For Zhao, the workshops on interview tips she attended turned out to be very helpful. She adds that Glismand helped her with her resume, cover letter, contacting companies with internship opportunities, and liaising with student visa contracts. Melo e Castro also took advantage of the ICC. “The valuable skills I learned were crucial in successfully going through different stages of the application for Red Bull and will be decisive when I eventually go back to job hunting in the future,” he says.
Berklee alumni share their experience with the graduate internship program:
Internships are also a learning curve, something which is acknowledged by employers. “While we are more inclined to consider internship applicants who have experience or knowledge of the music publishing world, we don’t expect our interns to understand everything right off the bat. Music publishing is full of extremely confusing and complex concepts, so we always say it’s concerning when our interns don’t have any questions,” says Ruck.
Regarding the future, Zhao has already secured a full-time job as producer manager in Beijing with Outdustry. “The company shares some similarities with MAC Presents, except that instead of artists it works with producers and engineers from the U.S., connecting them with top musicians from China,” she says.
Melo e Castro’s options are still open; he might be able to stay at Red Bull, but if that’s not the case he would like to work for a technology company. “In the long term, I would like to go back to the music industry and drive real change in a top-down fashion and maybe even go back to Portugal, my home country,” he says.