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The Next Generation--Communication and Training Interns
- Friday, Mar. 10, 2023
An intern wanders the halls of a facility, bright eyed and ready to learn. Hoping to witness professionals working together. Seeking projects that teach them the skills needed to excel at their craft. Looking for a chance to prove themselves to the staff and clients. But today, in this post-pandemic work environment, these opportunities are harder to find.
Unlike years before (yes, years!) when people inhabited the studios daily, we now find ourselves in quieter, less active spaces. We connect with our co-workers and clients via our webcams, leaving interns to learn what they can through digital means. And because of this, it seems all post production companies are presented with a challenge: to engage and train interns while maintaining our remote work lifestyles.
It’s true, we could easily sit back and let the cards fall where they may, but it’s important we address this challenge sooner than later. Without a concentrated effort we may begin to lose professionals in our industry who can get the work done. At times, it’s been challenging to find help at the skill level needed for busy stretches of work.
It’s also important to continually have fresh perspectives. We must evolve and adapt in order to remain competitive, and a part of that is learning from the younger generations. Without them, our perspectives can begin to calcify, potentially leaving us unable to meet future challenges. Knowledge is a collective. Individuals enter the collective while others exit.
I’m assuming some of you are facing the same challenge. So, honoring the “collective,” I would like to share how we’re trying to actively engage our interns. To fulfill our duty to pass along knowledge – like our mentors before us – while meeting the demands of our industry.
At Pomann Sound this was a group effort. We started by assembling a set of projects for interns to work on with the intent to:
- Keep interns engaged while they’re at the studio without the constant activity of clients and staff – helping us feel confident interns are not wasting their time.
- Build and fine-tune an intern’s skills methodically (projects are sequenced to build skills layer by layer.)
- Track our intern’s progress while flagging any gaps in their knowledge.
- Schedule feedback from the staff once a project is complete.
Feedback is usually given during a weekly in-person or remote meeting between one of the mixers and the intern. In these meetings, we address an intern’s questions, and along with any feedback, share relevant experiences and insights. We’ve learned that in order to maintain engagement we must constantly schedule times when the intern and staff can connect.
To make this work we also need clear lines of communication between the staff – defining goals and expectations from day one. It’s best to air questions or concerns before committing to go forward. This way we can design a plan everyone feels comfortable with and accountable to.
This transparent communication, important for our staff, is especially critical for our interns. It’s necessary for them to understand the game plan, as well as for us to understand their personal goals. The business has changed quite a bit in the fifteen years since I first interned. New layers of details have been added to our daily communication, which has become a new challenge for me while managing a studio. Getting everyone on the same page is essential to creating a productive environment.
Speaking of environments, we are excited to be moving to a new facility this spring. Pomann Sound will still be in midtown but everything else will change. Our upcoming move offers a groundbreaking opportunity to design a working space that is modern and takes into account the recent changes in our industry.
In these times, I’ve not only learned how to prepare in a whole new way, but also how that preparation is vital to training future generations of interns who will only know this new world.
Josh Moyer is executive producer of Pomann Sound, a sole-proprietor audio postproduction house in NYC (established in 1984).