It’s been said that good help is hard to find. There is also the investment in the process and the personnel. While it’s true that professional voice-over talent are typically a one-person operation, what if you could get some help that you could afford? Bear with me here, it’s a bit out-of-the-box, but isn’t that how we need to think in true spirit of entrepreneurship? If you have a college, university, or trade school anywhere near you, then getting an intern may be a great option for you. Many higher education institutions value, recommend, or even require their students to do at least one internship for academic credit. I recommend partnering with at least one school near you to provide an internship opportunity to a college student. There are two kinds of internships: paid and unpaid. As you would expect, both faculty and students prefer paid internships but many are willing to do an unpaid internship if the opportunity warrants it. By that, I mean that one does not see this as a way to get cheap or free labor, but rather as a way of creating a mutually beneficial arrangement where the student gets to learn and apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world situation while you get the benefit of their efforts.
First, decide where you need the most help. Some people struggle technically behind the digital mixing board and could turn work around faster if someone knowledgeable and affordable did all the mixing. If that’s you, a media production or audio production student would be worth exploring. Or, maybe you need help on the marketing end. You know you’d like to build a list of prospects, send emails consistently, and follow up accordingly to get your voice out, but you find it is hard to execute. A business or marketing student is the next direction to look in. Maybe if websites and digital media aren’t your thing, web design, graphic design, or digital marketing students could help here.
Talk to the Career Services Department at your local university. Tell them what you do and where you need the help. They’ll be able to explain to you how the process works on their campus. I have found that once you have a positive experience with one or two students, the administration and faculty often recommend you and send you some of their top prospects.
When describing your needs to the school, be sure to present it in a way that highlights the benefits the students will gain, such as working one-on-one with a small business owner. There are stories of large companies who take on interns only to undervalue them, having them do menial tasks below their capabilities. With you, an intern truly matters as their work is vital to the health and prosperity of your business. The students are also likely to get a versatile experience because they’ll be doing a variety of projects. The school and student may wonder if there is a chance at employment after the internship. That’s up to you. I actually hired one of my first interns (an audio engineering student) based on his high level of performance and eager work ethic. He worked with me for a few years and we’re still in touch. A quality experience with the student will go a long way in your relationship with the school.
Some schools have digital job boards where students can “shop” internship opportunities online. That’s a good way to get visibility. The primary recruiting tool for an internship is a job fair. For this once-a-semester event, you will set up a booth on campus and meet prospective interns. Your display doesn’t have to be fancy. A clear description of the job and playing to your VO demos will be key. A bowl of candy always helps! Welcome and greet students pleasantly. Remember, they’re new at this and it can feel awkward and uncomfortable, so a smile and a warm handshake can really help put people at ease.
Consider logistics when making a hire. Typically, a student that you’re talking to is not looking to work with you for the current semester but one or two after that. They’re getting their ducks in a row for upcoming semesters. Be aware of timelines. How many years in are they? Upperclassmen have a bit more skill and knowledge. Many students don’t have a car. If that’s an issue, are you near a bus route? And finally, be realistic about your expectations. These folks bring energy and assistance to you, helping you to advance your goals, but they’re usually inexperienced and school is their primary focus – rightfully so. So, be patient and clear and you may well find, as I have, that an effective intern can help you raise the level of your efforts tremendously!
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Brian Thon is one of many successful graduates of the Such A Voice training program. His own ever expanding voice credits span 25 years and include independent film, live television, radio and events. He voices work from professional sports teams to Fortune 500 companies, from GE Healthcare to Fox News. Through his own multimedia company, True Tone Studios, LLC, Brian writes, produces and hosts the groundbreaking new weekly radio show, Track Jumping, which is designed for national syndication.