“People make companies great, and Almo has great people”. Gene Chaiken, Almo Chairman
An admirable principle that Almo executes well (if I do say so myself) but where do great people come from and how do you find them? Sometimes, you may need to build them from scratch.
This past week I participated in a meeting of the advisory panel for the audio recording program at one of our local colleges. I’ve been on the panel for several years and one of the ongoing challenges is how to increase the number of students completing the internship requirement. Fortunately the numbers are improving this year; however they have a long way to go to reach their goals. Historically, the responsibility of finding an internship has rested on the student. The general thinking at this and many other schools has been that someone not finding an internship lacked the drive or some other characteristic necessary to persevere in this highly competitive segment of the industry. Or, perhaps the students view was too myopic and they needed to look beyond the confines of a recording studio – perhaps considering the world of Pro AV (or dozens of other options) for their initial step into the industry. With the longstanding recording industry shift away from large studios, there are other factors at play as well; yet it’s not that there are fewer places that can benefit from an intern.
When the director of the college’s audio recording program was reviewing success stories, they mentioned an intern working at a studio that is owned by a friend of mine. Over a decade ago, this studio owner told me he could never envision having an intern because he didn’t know what he could offer to the intern. A few years later, the same studio owner told me a student from another program had been hounding him for an internship so he finally relented. Eventually he shared that he was surprised how much the intern was gaining from the experience – and how much he was gaining from having an intern. As I thought about this business owner’s initial reluctance to bring on an intern contrasted with him now being the focus of an internship success story, it became apparent that the success of potential internships does not just fall solely on the prospective intern, but perhaps some falls on the business owners and their ability to realize they do have something to offer our future generation of AV professionals. Yes, if a student wants something badly enough, they will find within themselves perseverance and develop the right techniques to find their own opportunities. At the same time, perhaps we can all look within ourselves and see what knowledge, process, or experiences we have that may benefit our future AV professionals.
When I know something to the point it becomes second nature, I sometimes forget that at one point, I didn’t know it. We were all ignorant until someone or something gave us the chance. My first job out of recording school was as an intern at ICB Audio & Video. Ian Budd and Stephan Haller, reluctant at first, gave me my first shot. I am confident Ian and his company have long since recovered from the experience. A quarter century later and I am still benefiting from the internship and subsequent advancement – and hopefully so are my current clients. If you do not currently provide opportunities to interns, consider reaching out to your local colleges and trade schools to explore the potential mutual benefits of bringing on an intern. You may have more to keep an intern productive than you think, and who knows, maybe you’ll find your next great hire in the process.