One of the world’s greatest wonders is music and its diversity across countries and cultures. It’s no question why some people decide to dedicate their gap year and even lives to pursing their love for music on a deeper career level. In fact, many graduates and degree candidates choose to intern abroad specifically to boost their resume and industry networks.
When you intern overseas, you are able to unlock access to companies, contacts, and lessons you might not otherwise experience in school. From language classes and stylistic training to performances and workshops, internships can offer a major fast track to your dream career. If you are wondering how you can leverage available gap year opportunities with a music internship overseas, browse this music internship guide to discover what you need to know.
There are a number of internships you can join while abroad. The requirements vary by duration, age, and location, to name a few criteria, but overall offer a similar benefit of hands-on training and resume building. For music, specifically, internship fields include:
- Music Production and Engineering
- Music Performance
- Music Education
- Music Marketing and Promotions
- Concert and Festival Event Planning
- Music Publishing and Magazines
- Radio Station Internships
- Record Label Internships
- Music Law
- and more!
The internship program or placement organization you choose will be able to assist you in finding industry fields that most interest you (and knowledgeable professionals to help guide you and build your resume). One thing you should know, however, is the type of internship you are signing up for -- because the costs and benefits might differ greatly.
Credit-based Music Internship
If you haven’t completed undergrad yet, a credit-based internship might be of interest. Credit-based internships usually allow you to earn around 16 credits toward your degree requirements back at home.
The internship often lasts three to six months and costs less than what you’d pay for a university semester in the States (if a meal plan, tours, housing, and other amenities are included with the program). Freshmen and high school students are usually not allowed to take credit-based internships, so this type of program is best fit for college sophomores or older.
Unpaid Music Internship
Volunteer internships generally aren’t choosy when it comes to age. You’ll find some internships accept students as young as 16 years old. The thing to know about these music intern gigs: there’s no compensation.
While some agencies and programs might hype up their local perks as compensation, understand that many unpaid internships offer neither monetary stipends nor school credit. The experience, however, varying by program, might still be totally worth it, so don’t count this option out yet.
Be sure to inquire about program benefits, work hours, and other requirements before signing on the dotted line. You might find due to the unpaid nature, the internship offers volunteers more free time and activities than other programs and extra mentorship and support.
Credit-based internships are a form of non-monetary paid internships, but there are also internships that actually offer intern stipends. These payments are usually given weekly or monthly, with some reimbursing you at the completion of the program. Each agreement varies.
You can be expected to work for 20-40 hours each week, you might need to have a degree, and you must have experience with medium (in this case, music). Most paid programs also require longer durations, so interns can expect to stay for about a year or more.
Due to its long-term nature, internships might also have a language requirement if you choose to work in a country where English is not the primary language. These stipend internships are perfect for music fields like festival planning and events.
Lucky you, you’ve fallen in love with a medium that knows no borders. Thanks to the beauty of music, you can expect there to be a music internship wherever there are placement programs set up. Here are a few ideas if you are feeling stuck:
Europe can be a gorgeous place to pursue a music internship. Home to the romance languages and architectural gems, you’ll find musical inspiration around every corner. Consider adding Spain, France, Germany, or Italy to your list of potential internship destinations.
You’ll likely join business organizations in large cities or smaller towns and cultural centers, depending on how you want to work with music. From production, engineering, to performances and festival planning, you’ll have plenty to choose from, and (most likely) great weather.
Asia and Oceania
Whether you wanted to explore the lively country of India, get closer to nature in Thailand and New Zealand, or jump right into the bustle of Hong Kong, Asia offers great internship opportunities for various music fields.
Music internships here are quite special due to the unique nature of performance traditions and instrumentation. Asia and Oceania are great places to take advantage of music education and showcase opportunities.
If you are considering volunteer teaching and performance experiences, Latin America offers ideal music internships that focus on culture, nature, and enriching the community. Some destinations include the Galapagos Islands, Belize, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Argentina. Don't forget to enjoy the delicious food and natural adventures while you’re there!
Like Latin America, you’ll find many African countries offer music internships that involve community involvement and empowerment as well as conservation initiatives. Countries like Ghana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Kenya allow you to work on showcase projects and get directly in touch with the community.
There are a few details you should make sure you confirm before dedicating your time (and money) to applying for a music internship program.
Applying to Music Internships
Before you apply to an internship, be sure you've carefully reviewed the program inclusions, requirements, and prerequisites. Here are some things to look for:
- Age requirements: Are you the right age and education level for this program? Many credit-based internships hosted by universities require sophomore interns and older, while other internship placement organizations accept high school students, freshman applicants, and recent graduates.
- Program costs and compensation: An internship overseas can cost around $2,000 - $5,000 USD per month. But don’t feel discouraged if you find you cannot afford the fees: many programs offer scholarships on their organization website and when you submit your application. While most internships are unpaid or for credit, you may stumble across a few music internships that offer a small stipend. Inquire about it!
- Documents required: Be sure to have your necessary official documents before applying to an internship. Check that you have your resume, letters of recommendation, and official transcripts in a timely matter (especially if you seek a credit-based internship). Visas may also be required, depending on the length of the program.
When applying for your music internship, check the program details to confirm the housing options offered. If the internship is affiliated with a university overseas, you might find yourself in summer or student dorm housing. Other options include homestays, volunteer quarters, or independent living.
Other Things to Know
It is important to remember that every program is different, so make sure you get your questions answered to ensure expectations are clearly communicated on behalf of both parties. Here are other questions to ask:
- How is internship credit earned? Do you work during the week and then take an online course at home for credit hours, or are credit hours calculated according to the number of hours worked?
- Is there a language requirement? Will you need to speak a second language? Are you required to take language classes before your internship? Is that included in the cost and supplied by the program?
- Other perks offered? Find out if the internship program offers foreign language classes, resume writing assistance, housing placement, and option for health insurance.
- Program orientation? Does the program offer a pre-internship orientation with other interns (or other networking opportunities)?