So, you have just graduated as an audio engineer, are still without a job and asking yourself how do I find work in the audio industry?
written by Ben Ploerer
Many graduates I know have asked themselves this question both before and on receiving their diploma or degree.
You love audio and the equipment, enjoy being creative and are just itching to work in a big fancy studio with the best people of the industry.
Well, although it’s all possible, it doesn’t happen that easily. No matter what area you are hoping to work in, whether music or post production, getting a foothold and keeping it there is a difficult task initially. Many graduates struggle through the first few years, only to give up before even being credited for a production. Therefore it is important to keep your mind focused on your goal, stay tuned, and exercise lots of patience.
“Prepare to start at the very bottom and work your way up!”
Approaching industry professionals and studios
You’ll never get started in the industry, just sitting at home expecting people to come knocking at your door. YOU have to get out and approach them. Send out innumerable CVs, contact studios directly and personally, enquire after internships, jobs as a runner or just find an opportunity to spend a few days on site, watching.
A “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no never”. Good studios are often too busy to take on an inexperienced engineer, or are simple not in need of staff at that particular time. Try not to be put off and reapply at regular intervals. It keeps your name fresh on their books and something might just turn up. Talking from experience, don’t expect replies from those you’ve sent your CVs to. Few firms bother to even acknowledge receipt!
The main setback most newcomers have is surviving financially. There are few job opportunities offering straight away full time employment and to enable you to pursue and accept small or short term projects, it is advisable to find a part time job as a regular income – preferably one with flexible working hours and where you get to meet lots of people (possible contacts!).
Socialise and network
Let people know what you’re hoping to do, what your plans are. Socialise with the professionals in the industry and frequent the venues they use, keeping feelers out for possible contacts. Don’t hesitate to ask for telephone numbers or strike up conversation with those already working in the field you’re interested in. It’s surprising how a job offer can come about just through a casual chat, or someone knowing somebody. Be open to all offers and show willingness, flexibility and enthusiasm even when, on first appearance, it’s not necessarily the exact line on work you’re hoping to take up.
Having a website showing recent work or audio samples are a good way to advertise what you can do. Be open to feedback and room for improvement. Business cards are a good way of exchanging contact information (and also look professional) but are by no means, crucial. Verbal recommendation is your best business card.
No matter when or where you are, it’s important to be approachable and friendly and never talk negatively about other people in the industry. It’s most unprofessional and you never know for or with whom you may have to work in the future!
Take on challenges
Embrace challenges! They won’t always be easy nor necessarily work out straight away but they are a means of gaining valuable experience and discovering new aspects of the industry you’ve perhaps never considered, or realised were open to you. With a changing market and constant technical development, it’s also important not to restrict yourself to one particular area. Always keep an open mind. For example: you are wanting to get into sound design for film, but a studio specialising in advertisement offers you an internship – take it! You will probably meet, along the way, those people who work in the film industry and the experience you gain during that time will certainly come in handy at some point. Above all it gives you the necessary start to your career.
Ben Ploerer is a producer and sound designer. After graduating from SAE Oxford in 2011 he gathered experience in live sound, theatre and post production in the UK, Germany and Austria. In 2014 he featured as a sound designer and foley artist on a German feature film. He also works full time as a radio producer.