Friendly Advice
Oct 16, 2020

Look No Further- Music Internships in Pittsburgh Enclosed!

by
Katie Sabel

So you want to intern in music. Well, you’ll probably only get one shot- everyone knows that only rising seniors do internships, right? Wrong!

The whole “rising seniors only” thing is a common myth that students hear as they’re applying to internships. In reality, this notion is actually a stamp of a different era- most likely the one our parents were a part of. Nowadays, the internship process is no longer exclusive to students about to enter the workforce. So, if you’re a freshman in college and you want to try an internship, go for it! A lot of universities will allow you to get college credit for the internships you complete, so you can even do them during the semester if you’d like. If not, though, the summer is a great time to do a music internship, too!

What’s really exciting about the fact that college students of all grades can now do internships is that it makes exploring different fields a lot easier. It used to be that students would take a job out of college, and then jump across different industries through full-time jobs until they found the one that fit. Now, though, students have a lot more freedom to scout out the industries that interest them. By the time that students graduate, they might have a much better idea of what jobs they would enjoy, and not enjoy, than students used to.

This is especially promising because we’re living in an era where students have less and less idea as to what they want to do when they graduate in general. The world is constantly changing around us, and there are so many things that students have never tried before. So, say goodbye to the internship as merely a tool for rising Seniors who want to secure a return offer! Internships are a great asset to students of all ages. Students now have the power to see for themselves what a job is like, and even say “no thank you” to that area if they find it to be disappointing.

So, why do a music internship in Pittsburgh? First of all, the Pittsburgh area is home to over 40 colleges and universities. If you’re a student of one of these institutions and you’re from out of state, take advantage of the local while you can! Eight semesters is a long time, so you may as well fill it with something as fun and enriching as a local internship.

Pittsburgh is a particularly exciting place to intern in general because of its multicultural ties, and its evolution as a business hub for many different industries. As Pittsburgh has evolved culturally, its music scene has evolved, too. Did you know that Pittsburgh was home to the first American pop music composer in 1843? Or how about the first Oscar winner for best song in 1934? The musical prestige doesn’t end there! Ever since 1755, Pittsburgh has been a hub of music and culture.

Plus, Pittsburgh’s multicultural atmosphere has also led to the development of a rich cultural district downtown. Located in the heart of downtown, the cultural district spans 14-square blocks, and encompasses all kinds of arts.  It’s got a lot to offer in all areas of music, from visiting pop artists, to classical music, to musical theater.

Whether its a touring musical at the Benedum, a trip to the Pittsburgh Ballet, or an evening with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the cultural district is a great place for students to immerse themselves in professional music. A lot of organizations even offer student tickets or group discount rates!

And, of course, those organizations can help us get a glimpse as to what it’s like to work in their industry as well! Here are five exciting music internships in Pittsburgh across all areas of the industry that students can get involved with.

Classical Music + Radio

Exterior of Pittsburgh's WQED building, a great place to work as an intern
Interested in radio? Intern in Pittsburgh’s historic WQED building! Image Courtesy of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WQED Radio

4802 Fifth Ave | Oakland | wqed.org

Internships Available: Radio Intern

Interested in broadcast radio? At WQED, you’ll learn the in’s and out’s of radio programming and production. Not only will you be working with what goes on the air, you’ll also get the chance to work with a music library, edit interviews and arts news, and get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of Radio. (And yes, this is where Mr. Rodgers worked!)

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Heinz Hall | Downtown | pittsburghsymphony.org

Internships Available: Archivist Intern

Interested in learning what makes a symphony orchestra tick? As an archivist, you’ll be doing hands-on work with the pieces that PSO uses each season. You’ll be able to get up-close-and-personal with the kinds of music that a professional symphony favors, and be able to sharpen your management skills as well. This internship is a plus for anyone interested in examining all areas of an Orchestra’s season- from promotional materials, to photos, to audio-visual media!

Musical Theater + Sound Design

An orchestra settles in before a production of Cabaret.
Interested in a career in live music? The theater is a great place to learn!

The Civic Light Opera

719 Liberty Avenue | Downtown | pittsburghclo.org

Internships Available: Music, Sound Design

Interested in learning more about musical theater? The Pittsburgh CLO takes interns for each of their productions, in a variety of areas! Music interns will work directly with CLO’s Musical Director and Arranger to prepare orchestra parts, gaining first hand experience of what producing musical theater looks like. If sound in general is more appealing to you, Sound Design interns will get to be an integral part of the rehearsal and performance process. Sound Design interns will get to learn how musical theater operates from start to finish, as they assist with designs and cues from rehearsals, to tech, to performances!

Pittsburgh Public Theater

621 Penn Ave | Downtown | ppt.org

Internships Available: Sound Design

Get hands-on experience with sound design and audio engineering with the Public Theater! Sound Design interns work on a show-by-show basis, meaning they will come in for a production and stay until the very end. As such, you’ll gain intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of musical theater through this internship. Sound Design interns will work closely with the theater’s resident sound designer throughout the course of the show. They’ll get to take part in the design process, implementation during the rehearsal period, technical rehearsals, and production meetings!

Music + Event Planning

Two DJ's play to a crowd at a music festival, organized by a music intern in Pittsburgh.
Love live music? You could flex both your music skills and your management skills together through an internship in festival planning!

Wake Up On Fire Talent Development & Productions 

57 Walnut St. | Crafton | https://www.facebook.com/WakeUpOnFire/

Internships Available: Staff Intern

Ever wondered what it’s like to put together a music festival? Wake Up On Fire is the place for you! You and four other interns will work on their music and arts festival. You’ll get to assist in the planning of the event, as well as working with bands on the day of the festival. It’s a great chance to see what live event planning is all about, and how the music festivals we love so much come to be! 

And More!

Don’t let your search stop here! Pittsburgh is full of exciting music internships, and a lot of your favorite organizations in the city likely have positions available. Even if there’s nothing posted on their website, it never hurts to reach out to a music director or internship director. That way, when they have a position become available, they’ll already know someone who’s interested! 

Above all, don’t be afraid to try something new. Internships are a fantastic way to test the waters of the music industry. Plus, through your experiences as an intern, you’ll be able to make lifelong connections and learn important skills along the way. An organization may post one thing in their internship Ad, but you’ll be surprised by exactly how much you learn on the job about the industry, and about yourself. 

The “don’t knock it ‘til you try it” attitude is a great one to bring to applying to internships. Just because a music internship posts something about Microsoft Excel or writing doesn’t mean you should immediately discount it. The best kinds of internships are the ones that will let you explore what you like, and teach you other hard skills along the way!

Another thing to keep in mind is that everyone has to start somewhere! Some internship postings can be intimidating- some even go as far as to list a couple years of experience. Keep in mind that these are just things they’re hoping candidates will have. As in, not actually a hard requirement for the internship a lot of times. So, even if you don’t have a lot of experience in the field you want to intern in, apply anyway! As long as you’re passionate, willing to learn, and hardworking, there’s no stopping you. Best of luck, and happy interning! 

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