Finding My Studio Internship

When I thought about what I needed to get out of an internship, I also thought about where I wanted to go. Moving is not my favorite activities in the world (I don't think it is anybody's favorite), but I think I can speak for at least some people when I say that moving to a new city is a generally positive experience. I wanted to experience that firsthand, and so I thought of all the cities I could move to for my internship. New York? Los Angeles? Nashville? All of those cities are well documented and oversaturated with other young professionals looking for their internships. I took a trip to Boston to go see Modest Mouse live at the Roadrunner last December and I loved the atmosphere and the vibe of Boston. Yes there are things that are not so romantic about this city (that I found out this first week of my internship), but overall the people are genuinely nice and there are so many fun things to do outside of the internship.

So I started emailing people. When I say that I emailed everyone I could find, I mean everyone. I probably sent out around 40 total emails to businesses around the Boston area looking for an internship. This one limiting factor in my search criteria made it relatively easy to search. My well rounded experience in professional audio and recording made my resume and portfolio easy to tailor to different jobs and internships. But nobody would answer me until I reached out to Soundtrack.

I got asked a ton about my decision to move over the past few months. I found my answer would always contain these two things: transportation and opportunities. Of course there is a level of professional development and networking going into my decision, but I have always been an advocate for a better public transportation system. I also am giving myself more options after I graduate with this internship as I make more connections with people inside the industry. 

So that is the background as to where, how, and why I ended up interning at Soundtrack Recording in Boston. I feel like I am doing my future self a favor in moving and I feel it is an investment into my professional life that I would have not have taken if I were not more open minded in my decision making process.

City Life

Quite a few people always wonder what it is like to live in a large city. Boston's Metro area has a population of 4.9 million, which is about 5 times larger than Columbus'  population. It has a public transit system that consists of 4 modes of transportation: subways, commuter rail, ferries, and buses. In that effect, Boston has a leg up on Columbus's transportation infrastructure which is just buses that have very inconsistent schedules and don't run at night.

However there are a few disadvantages to living in Boston. It is one of those areas where you can't 100% rely on public transit but you can't take your car everywhere either. Parking and traffic within the city is time and cost prohibitive, but the trains (with the system-wide slow zones) are sometimes slower than walking. The MBTA is definitely a system that needs a massive overhaul, but it has a lot more going for it than COTA. If Columbus ever wants to grow to the size of any of the cities on the East Coast, then I think it needs to think about implementing more modes of transit that do not rely on roads.

There are a lot more people here. That is a plus and a minus in my opinion, since there are a lot more opportunities to network but there are also a ton of more people in the grocery store at the same time you are, buying the same thing you are trying to buy. You can make a lot of friends, but there are also a lot of enemies. I think the opportunities presented by a large and diverse population outweigh the cons however.

Where I am living currently, there is a very high hispanic population (Chelsea). Everyone speaks Spanish or Portugese, and I have no idea what anyone is saying because I never learned those languages. But once I get into the city, there are a lot more people speaking a lot more languages (English primarily). While I am on my way to my internship (a 20 minute car ride that is sometimes as long as an hour and 15 minutes on the T), I am surrounded by a lot of everyday citizens living out their lives. There are a lot of opportunities to be a helpful person when you are in a situation like that, which I love. 

Overall I would say that living in a large city like this opened up a world of new feelings and personal growth that I would not have achieved if I were still in Columbus. It was not easy but I feel like I am finally adjusted to city living and to my internship as well.

Mixing Capital University Ensembles

One of my internships I took on this semester was to mix the archival recordings of Capital University's ensembles. I feel like this was less of a science and more of an art, as all of the files that I have touched so far have been different in composition. Some pro tools sessions have tens of tracks, and others only have 2 stereo pairs. A thing I have struggled with so far is how to make the announcer microphone sound like you are in the room with them. iZotope's RX plugin helps me get to a point where there is no noise if the track needs more gain (this was most of the time), but then the problem I needed to deal with was how to make this sound as natural as possible. This was also a case-by-case basis, as some of the sessions came with room mics and others did not. It is really hard to match the reverb in Mees or Huntington however. But I think a little artificial reverb added to the voice wouldn't hurt anybody and it would add a little ambience to the announcer.

Again, the variety in means of recording meant that in most cases I had no idea what mics or setup they were using. I was only able to communicate with one of the tracking engineers for these projects and they gave me some details so that I could more accurately mix that project. Live recordings give their own challenges too, because you cannot control the crowd noise or other factors. Another task that I felt was necessary in these recordings was to cut out some crowd noise in most of the mics (either turning down clip gain or deleting clips entirely). 

Soundtrack post 1

A lot of people have come through the elevator doors of Soundtrack Boston. Some are famous, others less so. I was at the lower end of the fame scale when I arrived here in March and have been treated like family.  

There are plenty of things to do here all the time as a person who deals with client services (which is a responsibility that is shared with all of the interns and some employees). Most of the things I have been busy with involve cleaning. Lots of cleaning. Cleaning everything from the chairs that everyone sits on to the windows, blinds, walls, and phones. Another responsibility is checking inventory. There are a lot of snacks, drinks, and candies that are used in snack baskets and other things that are needed to supplement the amazing and welcoming experience that is fostered for the clients.

I also have been sitting in on a few ADR sessions for different shows and podcasts. Most notably have been Bob's Burgers voiceover sessions and a podcast recording session for the Ezra Klein show (Ezra was recording himself locally). There really is not a whole lot to the setup for these sessions, the client usually just comes in and starts level checking since the mic and preamp are both already patched and the pro tools session is already on standby before the client walks in.  My main job while I sit in on sessions is to ask questions about the process and learn.

Soundtrack post 2 (4-10-23)

Another aspect I love about ADR and post-production for film/TV/radio is that there is a lot of free time between sessions even though there are sessions in most of the studios most of the time. I get the opportunity to meet with clients, fulfill their needs, help out the engineer with anything they might need, and watch the process take hold. All of the staff is very welcoming and willing to answer any questions I might have about anything, whether it be the process of getting a session ready to be exported to the company, or as simple as stocking a fridge. On days that are less busy I don't have to worry about rushing to get things ready. On more busy days everyone seems to be running around with their heads cut off (especially the other interns) but the stress is still manageable to me. 

Soundtrack post 3 (4-13-23)

It's been a while since I moved to Boston. The weather has changed significantly for the better. In fact, as I'm writing this, it is sunny and 84 degrees. The weather in New England so far has been a lot more predictable than the weather in Ohio, with less temperature swings. That has made it easier for me to predict my commute and pick out what I want to wear for the day as well. I know for a fact that every day I show up for my internship I am always going to be going out for something, whether it be breakfast, lunch, groceries or other random tasks. If it's in the 40s and windy (it is ALWAYS windy), then I will probably need to leave my apartment with a jacket. In today's case where it is 80+ degrees, I leave the apartment with a t-shirt and shorts. But I always need to look professional when I show up because I am representing the company. 

Speaking of lunch runs, there are a lot of places to eat around the studios. The list that the clients and studio engineers pick out lunch from is pretty long, and includes restaurants like Dig Inn, Douzo, Flour, Maggiano's, Sweetgreen, and Tasty Burger. Just today I ran out to Sweetgreen on Boylston and walked past a crowd of people and workers gearing up for the Boston Marathon (that is next week, April 17th!). 

I will give a few words to show my appreciation for this city being so welcoming for my internship period. I am still not 100% sure what I want to do after graduation, but I am sure it will have something to do with working in a studio environment. Who knows, I might be able to land a job here. I think that would be rather lovely. 

Soundtrack post 4 (April 17th through 19th)

This Monday (April 17th) was the date of the Boston Marathon, so I was advised to stay home. The studio was empty and nothing was happening. The T was a mess with not only marathon participants but also friends and family and visitors, so I stayed inside the entire day. Today was the first time in a while that I got outside and I got greeted with the wonderful sights and sounds of the studio. A few things have been moved and rearranged while I left (the intern desk being one of them), and I was tasked with cleaning all of the Soundtrack mugs (which were a little dusty) and the rack that they were hanging on (which was really dusty). The dishwasher had not yet ran so we had to load it up with some and then hand wash the majority of the rest. Other than that I have not been able to sit in on any sessions today because most of them were in the morning, and the ones that were later are sessions that I already sat in on before. 

Tuesday (April 18th) near the end of my shift, I was tasked with picking up a lunch order for Flour. I ordered this order from the wrong location and didn't realize it until I tried to pick it up at the regular location which is just a few blocks away from the studio. I had to literally walk the extra mile to the location I ordered it from and then take the green line back to the studio. Next time I order lunch I will be triple checking that I picked the right location! Shortly after dropping the order off I was ready to go home and I was exhausted. 

This Wednesday (April 19th) is about the same level of busy-ness that we had Monday. One session is being held today and it is for Law and Order SVU. I don't think it is worth sitting in on however because they're only recording two lines of dialogue. 

The post-grad Job Search

Searching for a job can be (and has been) very exhausting and sometimes it feels like the right opportunity can pass you by for no reason. I have first hand experience with this because after I graduated from Capital University in May, I have yet to find a full time job in the audio industry. It is nice to take a break from the day to day grind of higher education but I feel like something is amiss. All of the time that I dedicated to my career so far feels meaningless as I don't have enough connections or enough experience to put on my resume. 

I do not want to work a boring 'regular' job because that would mean the investment in my degree was near worthless. I acknowledge that I cannot "get in at the top floor" so to speak, but I also want to make enough to support myself and be an independent adult.

I will update this blog as soon as an opportunity presents itself to me. It just felt like the right place to post my frustration with the job market of today.