Music Tip #15: Interning & Personal Assistant Jobs Won't Work for Most Careers, Music Or Not

To be an intern, you need to be in college. Not my rule — companies tend to require you earn college credits and be of college age. I graduated when I was 19 going on 20. Right now, I'm 30. People are still asking me to be an intern or personal assistant in assorted professions.

Example. Me meeting a woman in media with a good job years ago. I said hello. That's all. She asked me where I was doing my internship. I told her about a foreign GQ, a major newspaper, and a few places I'd worked for and that I thought I was doing fairly well not to need an internship. 

Indeed, LOTS of media people in New York younger than I am ask me if I'm an intern when I am older and more experienced. Rolling my eyes. And this is in terms of newspapers. 

Today, someone turned me down in the most gracious letter in terms of music. All was fine until I read the advice to be an intern/secretary for someone and told myself, "OK. Looks like this will never end. I'm going to be one day 55 years old with an IMDb sheet from Chicago to Mexico and get asked to be an intern or personal assistant. I wonder if they think I'm 20."

Interning or personal assistant is what people tell you when they think you're either much younger, clueless, or some mix of both.  A lot of people will listen you saying like I have with media work, "I've written here, here, here after I graduated, there before," and it goes out their ears. Seconds later, they ask me if I'm in college. Are you doing your internship? Whereas some people like those who turned me away for music are doing it i think because they think I'm in college or something and assume away.

Many people in every industry explained to me and I hope passing on this wisdom helps: THIS IS A MYTH!  Taking bad jobs will make you the secretary in 25 years as others going in the door for filmmaking/media/music/whatever age and go from protege to big deal. You remain the personal assistant. I mean obviously, or Rupert Murdoch and others wouldn't have the same assistants for decades. I believe Murdoch's assistant is in her 80's.

When I have been around assistants and interns, they make coffee. Clean messes. Pick up laundry for some elite person. Do absolutely nothing intelligent. OK, understand me. You don't learn anything. People lie they learn on the job to get ahead within that company because you don't learn. You're the Minion to their Gru. Most interns in NYC media or those I've met who interned in LA go home to Chicago/elsewhere/a bad job. Maybe possibly a local anchorman someday in a town of 15,000. Nothing more. 

Interning? Like, really, please. The younger composers I've met never interned. Nobody told them, "Go get a few decades of experience." These guys went straight to doing video games and films — and now get used more often. They never got stuck in the dungeons as personal assistants. Do you honestly believe Trent Reznor fetched coffee for Ennio Morricone as Mr. Morricone threw back the latte a la Mugatu in Zoolander, "Don't you know cappuccinos make me smelly?" And Trent Reznor slaved off typing letters his boss dictated, waiting decades to—

Oh yeah. None of these people did.  Not the unknown young men nor any composer making the shift from mainstream music to film scores.

Please do NOT become an intern past 22. NEVER become a personal assistant at age 30. The girl I know who tried that route, being a secretary at a record label to get signed, was never noticed until she left her record label desk job and started promoting her singing online. She's now doing fairly well and has a big Hollywood agent for film roles! Would that have happened had she stayed? NO!

DO take on cheaper paying work to get your foot in the door as a composer, producer, etc.  DO release your music and try hard to get famous so you won't have to deal with this. DO hit up social media. DO network with film and music industry people because one day, someone may take a chance on you 

One day if we are lucky, you and I will meet, aged 92, holding our Academy Awards and we will both be asked where we are doing internships. I have no hope really of that question disappearing when it has not ended for me age 30. Allow the sexists of this world to keep telling themselves women learn about music as secretaries until everybody laughs at them! We'll be winning awards left and right!