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BUSINESS
Can Interns Help Grow Your Voice Over
Business? Yes! What To Do - And Not Do
September 5, 2013

Note: The author and her husband, Brian Amador, will present an educational session on Narrating Audiobooks for Children at Voice Over Virtual, the giant three-day online voice over conference September 18-20, 2013. For details, please visit www.VoiceOverVirtual.com.

By Rosi Amador
Bilingual Voice Actor

Interns anyone? Can they really help you in your voice over biz? You bet they can!

For the past 20+ years I have had the pleasure of working with dozens of unpaid interns whose contributions have enriched my businesses and life immensely.

For decades, when I was a full-time touring musician and our Latin bandís company director, I was able to find college and high school interns who were eager to learn the ins and outs of the music business.

HELPS US, HELPS THEM

These days, particularly in the last four years since my husband Brian and I have made the shift into full-time voice acting with more part-time music, we have had the good fortune of attracting numerous interns every semester and summer. They've joined us to learn more about both the business and technical parts of voice overs, and what keeps our business humming.

Some interns occasionally get college credit for their internships, but most simply want to learn and expand their knowledge or get hands-on experience and good mentorship in exploring a VO career.

I have remained connected to dozens of former interns who frequently tell me how much they enjoyed their internship, and who still use the skills learned years later.

I love it when that happens!

GETTING STARTED ...

Here's how you, too, can benefit from these wonderful, creative and eager-to-learn students.

I have been able to successfully recruit interns, keep them happy and productive, and grow our VO biz with their help.

Following are some questions and recommendations for you, based on my positive experiences.

What type of intern do you need?


Hereís whatís worked for me: An Engineer/Editor or Marketing/Communications Intern, or someone who does both (highly recommended).

Ask yourself what skills would complement your own to answer this question.

Sample intern projects
  • updating demos;
  • identifying best auditions per your recommendations;
  • identifying and updating online voice over casting sites; engineering or editing your VO sessions;
  • social media posts/website updating and brainstorming ideas for these with you;
  • editing videos youíve voiced to create a one-minute YouTube video;
  • adding videos to YouTube;
  • online prospecting and doing advance research in preparation for your cold calls,
  • emails or follow-up communication;
  • updating your email database for e-blasts:
  • creating promo postcards/business cards; mailings; researching gifts for your top clients.
Where to post your internship openings

Your best bet is to try local colleges/universities Ė research their websites or call to see where internships are posted. Most often itís the career counseling office and sometimes itís all done through a particular part of their website.

Best choices: Students of Marketing/Communications, Engineering, Sound Design, Business,Technical Colleges, etc.

Are you part of a community list-serv of any type (including your childís school, for example)? Post your internship description to a variety of list-servs.

Tell your friends! Give your internship description a compelling name.

SAMPLE LISTING

Following is what I put on the top of my listing. And below that is a description thatís clear but fun.

Unpaid Internship Position / Amador Bilingual Voiceovers and Latin band Sol y Canto

Starting: Ongoing
Job Title: Marketing & Communications Intern/Engineering
Intern Hours: Flexible, typically 8-20 hrs/week
Pay: Unpaid
Contact: Rosi Amador, Director
Email: rosi@amadorbilingualvoiceovers.com / Tel: 617.492.1515


WHAT TO DO ...

  • DO ask for references, a resume and a writing sample. Check references.
  • DO expect to spend initial training time/orientating time before things go more quickly
  • DO give your intern a dedicated work area and computer near you.
  • DO mentor them. You must enjoy mentoring a young person and be willing to check in with them each day they come in, in order to provide direction and thorough feedback on their projects. This is what motivates them and keeps them engaged and happy to intern for you.
  • DO organize yourself before working with an intern. Come up with a range of projects, put them on a list and be prepared to advise the interns on how best to prioritize them. In order for the intern to not be interrupting you constantly, train your intern how to do up to three projects at a time. Encourage them to write down your instructions or type them in advance (e.g. provide templates). They will be happy to shift projects as they wish, and stay engaged.
  • DO communicate when youíre available to give feedback and instruct them on changes that must be made during the days they come to work for you.
  • DO praise them regularly.
  • DO thank them often.
  • DO correct their errors in a kind and clear way so they really understand how to improve their performance.
  • DO impress upon them how important it is to you that they enjoy this experience and that they communicate any discomfort, boredom or frustration with the tasks you assign. Ask them for their honest feedback. A happy intern is a productive intern.
  • DO have face-to-face weekly staff meetings where you check in on all projects being worked on, express satisfaction or recommend changes, and reflect on whether anyone in the office needs support, and what that would looklike. That includes you!
  • DO provide them with a list of rules to abide by during the internship (punctuality, accountability, no Facebook or texting, time off for lunch, expectations, rules for recycling, use of shoes, etc.
  • DO provide access to creature comforts, e.g. coffee, tea, possibly snacks. Advise them to bring their own lunch to keep in your fridge, use your microwave and, if you wish, have lunch together sometimes so you can establish more of a personal rapport and learn about his/her dreams and desires. Talk about how you got into the biz and what drives you now.
  • DO offer to write them a recommendation at the end of their successful internships. Enjoy them!
BUT DON'T DO THIS ...
  • DONíT have your intern work remotely unless theyíve spent considerable face time and you find them to be very driven, independent workers and self-motivated. They may often be distracted and much less productive, or possibly quit if they donít have frequent contact with you.
  • DONíT ignore your internís questions or needs. They rely on you for motivation and guidance. Communicate when youíre available.
Word of Caution: Your home studio should be in a location thatís easy to reach via public transportation. If it isnít, make sure you prominently indicate in your listing that the student must drive.

I sincerely hope this is helpful to you. Enjoy your intern(s) and good luck growing your voice over business!
-------------------
ABOUT ROSI
Rosi Amador is a bicultural, native speaker of neutral Latin American Spanish and English, and a professional Latin singer with her husband in their band, Sol y Canto. As a voice over actor she specializes in childrenís eLearning and audiobooks, documentaries, audio tours, commercials, eLearning and public television promos. From 2012-2013s he was an Edge Studio Partner Coach in Spanish and English in Boston. She is from Puerto Rico, of Argentine descent.


Email: rosi@amadorbilingualvoiceovers.com
Web: www.amadorbilingualvoiceovers.com

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Comments (5)
Nancy McLemore
9/30/2013 at 10:47 PM
Hi Rosi,
I enjoyed your blog article, and look forward to meeting you and Brian at Faffcon in San Antonio this weekend.
www.nancytalks.com

Joel Richards
9/17/2013 at 8:46 AM
These are great suggestions and you've got a lot of great tips and things to consider when bringing someone on for your company; however, keep these standards in mind:

http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm

Having a person work for you for free when the primary benefit is not for the person doing the work is illegal and unethical. In an industry where our services are so often exploited and underrated I think we need to keep that in mind karmic-ly as well.

I hope I'm not coming off as too harsh but there's a fine line here. It might be worth paying your part-time student employee at least minimum wage to cover their transportation costs and make sure the arrangement is legit. Giving someone a chance to learn the ropes is a great thing and I am not against internships but they can so quickly and easily become exploitative and who wants to be responsible for that?
Jill Goldman
9/5/2013 at 4:50 PM
Rosi, what a helpful article! I've often considered hiring an upaid intern, but wasn't quite sure what I might have the person do, or how to go about finding someone. You've given me a lot to go on now! Thanks!
Rosi Amador
9/5/2013 at 3:07 PM
Roxanne, I am so delighted and thankful to read your kind words. You made my day! I sincerely hope that it helps many of our colleagues and friends. Of course the biggest thank you goes to the one and only John Florian, whose idea it was to share this beyond my reach and to continue creating great content for us all. °Gracias John, for all you do for us all!
Roxanne
9/5/2013 at 11:37 AM
Rosi, this is such a great solution for both the voice talent AND the student. You and Brian are an inspiration to me. Thank you for this article!
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