Landing your first post-grad job in the audio industry can feel overwhelming. Despite the plethora of advice from seasoned professionals, recruiters, and company websites, the nuances of the audio industry remain somewhat elusive. This landscape is evolving, shaped by the enduring effects of a global pandemic, the integration of AI into creative domains, and most recently, the impact of the Hollywood strikes. Whether you’re an Audio Engineering graduate, a freelance enthusiast, or just starting your audio journey and feeling daunted, I’ve decided to use my first blog here with SoundGirls to offer advice from my own experiences to help you step confidently into the professional audio world.
Before we get started, allow me to introduce myself: I’m Grace Usleman, a recent graduate of Belmont University with a degree in Audio Engineering as well as double minors in Voice Performance and Music Business. My passion lies in Foley Art, ADR, and all facets of post-production sound. The following advice stems from my personal journey as a young woman navigating the professional audio-sphere. While my immediate goal is securing a full-time post-production position, I trust these insights can assist you in your journey as an audio professional no matter where you’re starting from.
In the realm of professional audio, the job search doesn’t always fit the conventional mold. You won’t often find quick movie gigs or live tour positions listed on platforms like LinkedIn. Yet, exceptions exist—my most recent internship at a post-production studio was found through Handshake. While browsing these sites is beneficial, relying solely on them for your dream job might fall short. Therefore, my first piece of advice: Networking is key. Craft a portfolio website showcasing your work and consider carrying business cards for chance encounters with individuals who might align with your aspirations—be it running live sound for a local venue or working as an ADR recordist, you never know who is just around the corner!
Networking might seem daunting, but when done well, it’s about building meaningful connections, learning from mentors, and refining your professional skills. Personally, networking has placed me in rooms with intelligent, empathetic individuals eager to share their experiences while simultaneously valuing mine.
Effective networking hinges on etiquette. Respect others’ time and effort, whether at a job fair or over a coffee meeting. Likewise, acknowledge your own commitment and enthusiasm, too. Gratitude goes a long way—express your thanks promptly and graciously. And don’t hesitate to follow up! A polite message reaffirms your interest and often reignites connections that might have been overlooked or, frankly, forgotten.
Avoid the temptation to apply to every available job. I fell into this trap immediately post-graduation, tirelessly crafting custom cover letters for positions I wasn’t truly passionate about. It drained my energy and didn’t yield any productive outcomes. Instead, I recommend writing personalized messages to professionals in your field of interest, which can be far more rewarding both practically and emotionally.
Tailor your resume for each application. Take time to understand the company, its projects, and its employees. Who knows, maybe you share a mutual connection that you might use to launch an introduction! Your diverse experiences—school projects, personal work, summer jobs—contribute to a skill set desired in the audio industry, and can be tailored to each new set of job qualifications and requirements. When I first started applying to internships and short-term positions in college, I was nervous that my lack of experience would be seen as undesirable. However, being fresh and ready to learn made me a sponge for knowledge, and gave you the opportunity to express open-mindedness and interest in exploring many facets of a position, company, studio, etc: flexibility is a needed asset, especially in professional audio. Chances are, you probably have more experience than you think.
These pointers are intended to ease any worries as you embark on your professional journey in the audiosphere—whether a recent graduate, transitioning from another industry, or carving your path as a freelancer. It’s easy to lose sight of your worth and feel discouraged, but your skills are invaluable in this industry, and your efforts won’t go unnoticed.
Thank you for reading. You can find more insights on audio to come on my blog here at SoungGirls.org. Wishing you the best in networking, building your portfolio, and pursuing your dreams in audio!