Berklee College of Music hosted a panel on Women in Audio, this past Sunday at The Village Studios in Los Angeles. Organized by Justine Taormino, from Berklee College of Music, the panel included April Tucker, Tina Morris, and myself. We had a mix of Berklee Students and Alumni and SoundGirls.Org members. It was a rewarding way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I love meeting and hearing other women’s stories and the paths they have taken.
Early in my career, I was hesitant about being associated with anything that billed as Women in Audio, The Female Audio Engineers, Female Roadies. I felt this would distract and hinder my career; I was already an anomaly and I did not wish to attract further attention. I think many women feel this way.
The first all-woman panel I agreed to do was in 2012, 26 years into my career. I am not sure what changed my mind, I was a bit intrigued, it was AES, and I was comfortable in my career. Although, I did not realize it then, in the back of my mind I was thinking, 26 years later, and we are still hosting panels called the Women of Live Sound.
That panel was the inspiration for Michelle and I to launch SoundGirls.Org. Since that time, I have sat on additional panels, decided to do numerous interviews that in the past I would have turned down, and decided to mentor and meet with as many women possible. I always feel energized after being involved in a panel, meeting with SG members, and or mentoring a young person.
Mentoring and internships are important for all involved. For the people receiving the mentorship or internship, the lessons are invaluable, they are or hopefully gaining real world tools, skills, and knowledge. It is important that craft is passed down in this manner. I was taught and learned to mix, from people that took the time to teach me and share their experience with me.
The benefits to the person that has decided to dedicate some time to teaching a young person are also invaluable. Often it forces them to be better organized and prepared for their gig, to analyze why they do things a certain way, and to go back and study things they are unsure about.
For myself, I always come away amazed at how much I had to learn the hard way or just made it up as I went. Talking to young women and men makes me realize the things I believe are necessary or simple took many years to figure out. The things I do when mixing monitors that seem essential are just both mental and physical reactions to a situation, which I learned over thousands of shows. It is like riding a bike – I don’t think about it, I do it instinctively.
It forces me to answer questions about why and how and when. It makes analyze issues and in doing so I learn if is correct or can it be improved. Mentoring is an essential leadership skill, and I find it incredibly rewarding.
Being a mentor benefits you in a variety of ways. Of course, you will feel wonderful that you have made a difference in a young person’s life. It also can help your career, by being challenged and on top of new technology and advice. In the end, this makes your skill set stronger and more valuable to your employers.
There are many ways to mentor a young person, here are some suggestions
Letting someone come and shadow you for a day
Providing a structured formal internship
Volunteering at a Career Day or Science Fair
Being a support network available for a weekly phone call, through email, or meeting for coffee
Volunteering to teach through an after-school program, church or community theatre center
Volunteering to speak on a panel or at a school.
Is Mentoring Right for You?
Take some time answering the following questions to see if being a mentor or offering an internship is right for you.
Why do you want to mentor?
What knowledge or experience can you share?
Do you enjoy encouraging others?
Are you comfortable asking or answering challenging questions?
Are you willing to spend time mentoring on a regular basis?
How will mentoring advance your career goals?
In what areas can you offer expertise and advice?
Are there areas that you don’t feel qualified? What are they?
You should also consider practical matters
How much time can you commit? Weekly, Monthly? etc.
How much time can you spend at each session?
Do you want this to be structured and formal? Or causal?
Do you want to meet in person, through phone calls, or email?
SoundGirls.Org provides a Mentors Group to our members where you can look for a mentor or internship or volunteer your time. I encourage you to take advantage of it. We have also been working to establish internships; we currently have several opportunities available. If you would like to set up an internship through SoundGirls.Org, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Current SoundGirls.Org Internship Opportunities:
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