Want to be an Intern?
What qualities does The Mohawk Studio Look for?
Most interns must retain some level of selflessness, but it’s especially important in the control room where seasoned engineers, recording artists, contracted writers, label executives, and top producers are already working to balance egos. You don’t want to add to any tension present in the room, and while you can expect to have opinions about things, it’s best to keep your head down and observe how those around you navigate difficult conversations.
Try and have the stand ready before the vocalist asks for it. Constantly be thinking ahead, processing what’s going on in front of you, and keeping yourself one step ahead of the game, learning to anticipate what’s to be asked of you before anyone opens his or her mouth. Find tasks that are manageable that you don’t need to be asked to tackle, and do them quietly. It may seem insignificant, but if someone sees you pick up an empty Dunkin cup and properly dispose of it mid-session at 2:00 a.m., it sends a message that you’re independent and dedicated.
3. Cueing in
If you’re ever asked about something that’s going on in the moment, or something that just happened in the live room, you don’t want to catch yourself not knowing what it was. Always have your ears everywhere and analyze what you’re hearing; producers often like to surprise you by asking your opinions on a take or a specific sound, and they’re looking for you to be alert and have an opinion, even if they disagree. It shows you’re involved and capable of expressing your own ideas, bringing something new to the panel of creative minds at work.
4. Asking questions
A lot of interns at studios feel frustrated and let a year go by without learning anything. Understand that these days, you’re already expected to know a lot about recording, and it’s your job to keep asking questions to learn. Studio operating teams want you to be proactive, and they usually won’t treat the internship like it’s school where you can acquire information just by showing up. Treat your internship like it’s a job, and integrate yourself into the pre-existing team dynamic in a way that you feel transparent but resourceful. Knowing when it’s appropriate to ask questions is also key, although this changes in every new studio situation.
How To Rock an Internship at The Mohawk Studio:
1. Make yourself indispensable
Be the first one in and the last one out. Constantly look for new tasks to accomplish, as minor as they may seem (e.g., filing paperwork or calling ahead to confirm future sessions). The more hours you’re able to stick around, the more opportunities to prove your value there will be.
2. Research and learn about the studio’s gear
Know the studio’s outboard gear and consoles, and try and obtain manuals or tutorials to help get yourself to a working level of proficiency. We don’t have time to sit down and walk you through every button and all the complex signal flow structures – it’s on you to learn as you go, asking more detailed questions as they arise. Also, be constantly listening to music and research records that have been successful and become iconic. Knowing your history will surely impress folks who’ve been working for decades in the industry.
3. Always say yes
Reliability is key, and if you’re ever asked to do something, always say yes. Whether it’s going on coffee runs, checking a mic cable for a second time, or coming in on a Sunday morning, you want to be ready to enthusiastically go after any project given to you.
4. Speak the language
Know how engineers speak, and be able to translate what musicians are saying into useful information. Use key phrases like “frequency spectrum” and “dynamic contour” if you’re ever asked to describe sounds you’re hearing, and shy away from generic terms like “happy” or “loud.” Train your ears, and be able to classify sounds based on their EQ, timbre, texture, and color within the context of the sounds and song surrounding them.
5. Know your key commands
If you’re asked to edit or operate Pro Tools, expect to be judged based on your speed. Keep a working one-sheet of the most useful key commands for each software program, and work towards memorizing them. It’s embarrassing to attempt to use a Logic shortcut in a Pro Tools session, and it makes you look unreliable.