Building confidence with an internship

Natalie gained valuable insight into a real, working recording studio, making her more confident that the music industry has a place for her



Recording Studio Intern at Shearwater Studios
“An internship is the best thing that I've done, and I am hoping that it is something I can do again. I could not fault the experience at all.” 

Pursuing music

When people hear the word internship, they often think of offices and paperwork. The truth is there are many different kinds of internship available to suit everyone’s needs and interests.  
When Natalie Morgan, in the first year of her BA (Hons) Music degree, spotted the opportunity to complete a recording studio internship with Shearwater Studios, she couldn’t have been more excited. 
“The main thing was the opportunity, because I know that it's really hard to get a studio internship,” Natalie says. “It's just something in my first year of Music that I started getting really interested in, and I wanted to see if it’s something that I would want to pursue as more of a career.” 
“When I found out that I had got the position I was ecstatic,” Natalie recalls. 
Our dedicated School of Society and Culture Industry Liaison, Lee Whittock, worked with Natalie and Shearwater Studios to make sure that her internship slotted perfectly into her timetable. 
“That was pretty stress-free because I was like, OK, I'm not going to have to worry, because I wasn't at university for the whole day on the day I was doing the internship.” 

The best experience possible

“For the first four weeks, I overshadowed the people there and saw how they managed the studio, what approach they took to mixing and mastering and setting up equipment and things like that. And then in the last four weeks, they said, ‘Right, take all the information that you've learned and then use it,’” Natalie explains. “It was encouragement to take on our own role and properly immerse ourselves in the experience.” 
The University of Plymouth makes sure that all our partnered internship providers are going to give students the best experience possible. 
“They were really welcoming,” Natalie says. “They properly explained things and I felt like I'd built a friendship with them by the end of it, which was nice.” 

No wrong answers

“My favourite part was on the last day when we recorded one of their actual songs,” Natalie remembers. “The people who work there are in a band themselves and we set up all the drum kits and guitars etc. They wanted us to do our own spin on it – so we knew the genre and they said to mic the equipment and mix it however you would, rather than it being what they'd do, because they wanted to see how we would go about it. It was really fun because they were saying how it's nice to see another angle and how someone else would approach it, even though obviously I'm not an expert. It was a really good experience because it was sort of like you couldn't be wrong. There was no wrong answer.” 
Shearwater Studio - studio set up
The studio, image courtesy of Shearwater Studio
Drumkit at Shearwater Studios
Speaker set up at Shearwater Studio
Drums and microphone at Shearwater Studios
Images courtesy of Shearwater Studios

Leaving a lasting impression

Internships like this leave a lasting impression, and Natalie’s experience has helped solidify her choices for after she graduates. 
“I think it's definitely helped me figure it out, because it wasn't that I was apprehensive about it, but I thought it was going to be a real struggle if it was a career that I wanted to choose, because I know that the music industry is struggling even now,” Natalie explains. “But the people that I worked with started the business themselves, and I think it had only been properly open for about six months. So it was refreshing to see that it is possible, and the environment was everything I want would have wanted it to be. I realised that this is definitely something that I could see myself doing.” 
As always, the transferable skills gained from Natalie’s internship will be of use to her in whatever career she chooses, broadening her career options. 
“I gained a lot of communication skills. In an internship I feel like sometimes you can shy away from talking, but the people at Shearwater Studios promoted the idea of giving your own ideas and they wanted they wanted us to speak as much as possible,” Natalie says. “When you're in the recording room and setting up the mics, you have to constantly be informing people what's going on, and that's something I feel like I wouldn't have done if they didn't encourage it.” 

Building your confidence

Natalie’s internship also gave her some valuable insight into the world of a real, working recording studio, making her more comfortable and confident that the music industry has a place for her. 
“It built my overall confidence working in a studio because I very much thought that there was a set way it has to be done, like following more of a curriculum rather than an artistic style, where I suppose with music you've got to be artistic about things and choose your own approach.” 
“It’s been eye opening and just a brilliant, brilliant experience. It was very educational and professional as well,” Natalie says. “Even if you don’t have a full interest in doing studio work, I just feel like as musicians the people who work there have so much knowledge about the music industry. I don't think I would have learned as much as I did choosing any other internship, because they all have their own skills that they bring to the table and they're so ready to share it all with you. You can tell that they want you to get loads out of it and they want you to do well.” 
When it comes to internships, taking those initial few steps can seem a bit daunting, but the University offers support at every step of the way, from when you apply to when you finish your internship. 
“I feel like you can overthink it way too much. I was doubtful and thought I maybe wouldn't have enough experience, but the whole point of it is to gain experience,” Natalie shares. “You shouldn’t overthink it. If it's something that you have even a small interest in, just take it. It looks great on your CV, and it opens a lot of doors for you.” 
“It's the best thing that I've done, and I am hoping that it is something I can do again,” Natalie says. “I could not fault the experience at all.” 
This article was written by Aimee Whittle, BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing student as part of her internship with the School of Society and Culture.