Robair Report: Striving to Become “Ready Now”

Oct 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Gino Robair


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

It’s Never About You

A few months ago in this column, I noted how internships remain an important part of the learning process for up-and-coming audio professionals. However, a mastery over technology shouldn’t be the only goal of an extra-curricular education. The curriculum in the School of Hard Knocks involves learning professional behaviors. While we do our best to help students develop the interpersonal skills required in the real world, it’s something they will only master outside the classroom.

Recently, a student asked me for advice before his interview for an internship at a well-known studio. I told him that the most important things a second engineer can do—any audio professional, really—is to listen and be humble. As engineer/producer Dave Hampton recently noted in an interview, ours is a service-oriented business, and it’s never about you. Engineers must remove their ego and put the project first, especially in situations when they know they’re right and the client is wrong. Learn to deal gracefully with situations like that, and you’ll go far.

Learn to Relearn

This student also was worried that he wouldn’t have the chops to land the internship. I explained that the studio wouldn’t expect him to know everything. And besides, the speed with which technology changes means he will always be learning on the job.

In his New York Times article dated September 8, 2012, Thomas L. Friedman quoted the vice chancellor for work force and economic development at the California Community Colleges System, who noted that prospective job seekers typically have one of “four basic skill sets”: “ready now,” where they have the exact skills needed by an employer; “ready soon,” where it’s clear they can be trained easily for a particular gig; “work ready,” where they have a solid educational background and can eventually be trained for a job; and “far from ready,” where they’re not prepared for the tasks required in the modern workforce.

All of the recording arts programs I know of strive to graduate students who, at the very least, will fall into the “ready soon” category, if not in the “ready now.” Because our industry has such a wide variety of skill requirements—recording, editing, production, scoring, coding, etc.—and numerous production systems in use, it’s nearly impossible for students to be completely ready for everything they might encounter.

Consequently, among the most important qualities that successful audio professionals must have are the abilities to adapt to changing situations and to learn new skills quickly. And they must always remember that the client comes first.

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