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HELP ME PLEASE

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by soundop, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. soundop

    soundop Active Member

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    ok so i know ive posted many times for help on my college situation, and i really want to go into audio engineering, but my familys financial situation we cant afford any of the schools for it, so im stuck going to western illinois, in which im going to major in broadcst and minor in lighting design, then from there go to the 9 month sae program for audio, will i get any where in the live audio industry like this, or not (also western does not have audio enginerin, though i will join there westech orginazation, which is payed sound/lighting for the campus and town)
     
  2. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    While there are many around here who are strong advocates of going to the more exclusive schools. The truth is education isn't as important as it is in other fields. Yes, you need to know what you are doing and a college degree is the easiest way to do that. I work at a college, and I fully believe education is always important. However, all that said, there is a HUGE "dumb luck and who you know" factor in this field. There are MANY pros out there working who don't have a masters degree, they don't have a B.A., they don't have a vocational certificate... heck they may not have even been in a high school tech class.

    The hardest thing about getting a career in tech is getting your foot in the door. Having a degree from a good school can be a great help in that. But here's the trick. The community is small and everyone knows each other. When considering applications a phone call to your buddy across town has a POWERFUL effect on who gets hired. Once you have a track record, where you went to school becomes less and less important. Future employers want to know what kind of technician you are in the real world, not who taught you how to run the equipment.

    One of the most important things you will get out of a school is an opportunity to get an internship because that helps build your real world track record. In my recent tour at Cirque Du Soleil I was talking with the TD and he said they later hire about half the people who do internships for them. Why do they hire them? Because in a stack of resumes of people with limited experience, the person you know is far more appealing than the person who went to the better school.

    So to summarize do get a degree, but don't stress about where it's from. Who you meet and impress along the way, internships, summer stock, and other work you do while in college, is equally as important if not more important than where you go to school.

    As for me I'm a community college T.D. with a Masters in Education from a state university. I got my job because a friend of mine in the industry got a phone call looking for help and he referred the caller to contact me. Dumb luck and who you know is a powerful force in the theater world.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    In far fewer words than gaff, let me say that there are many respected people in this industry who either didn't go to school at all or dropped out. By the same token there are those who dropped out and didn't make it. However, it mostly has to do with how you apply yourself and how much practical experience you can get.

    The broadcast world isn't terribly different from a lot of what we do. In the audio world, most if not all of the basics are the same. In broadcast you are making the talent heard on the viewer's TV as opposed to on a big line array in a stadium. Most of the skills that you will learn will transfer to what you want to do.

    Then, as you plan on doing, get involved with outside groups. Make friends at local venues and work for them whenever you can. You may spend a while cable wrangling for them, but you will be able to work your up and learn while you are doing it. All you need is one group to come through someplace you are working and pass your name along and you could wind up with a job.

    Now, to end with a cliche, college is what you make of it. You will only get out of it what you want to take away. So, just because it isn't your top choice of school or program make sure that you go in with a god attitude. You may find that it isn't the place for you, which is OK, but you also may really enjoy it. If nothing else, you should enjoy your time at college.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    One other note. There are people out there who purposely choose to hire a person without a degree, but a good work record, so that they can train the new person to their system without fighting years of theory.

    Again education is a really helpful, but don't let your guidance counselor confuse you. It's not like becoming a doctor or lawyer where you must have a degree to get a job. Your hard work along the way is just as important if not more. So while you are going to school do as much extra tech work outside of school as you can. Who you know and who you impress outside of school can be a far more powerful influence on your career than where you go to school.
     
  5. soundop

    soundop Active Member

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    ok, so basicly what im hearing is, yes i should go to westeren for broadast for four years, then find a way to get my foot in the door with an internship at any theater i can find?
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Get yourself the best education you can afford. Don't make the mistake of charging up so much debt you can never get out of it.

    WHILE in school, as much as possible, volunteer or work... whatever you can do to stay in and connected with other technicians. Get a job coiling cable at a rental shop in the evenings. Volunteer at a community theater. Whatever you can do to meet and impress people with your skills and attitude along the way will be a huge help to you.
     
  7. cprted

    cprted Active Member

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    Gafftaper's words are wise and true. While theatre/live ent is my true love, I've spent some time working in broadcast as well. Inquire whether your local stations and network affiliates have internship opportunities, most will. For me, an internship on a morning show turned into a paid gig on the evening news for a major network affiliate and that turned into sweet gig working a PGA Tour event for one of the major sports networks.
     
  8. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    College (or some other higher education) is important for a number of reasons. Something that I've noticed over the years though, there are a lot of guys and gals in this industry who's degree is in something other than sound engineering. Electrical engineering/design is a very relevant field as is computer or networking skills. Any of these or other degrees give a possibility to fall back on should you not meet the success that you dream about in the audio world. As Gafftaper pointed out, the community is small. That has a lot to do with the fact that only the most dedicated people survive in this industry. I'm not saying that you won't but it never hurts to have a backup plan. Or a day job.
    Point number two: I worked for a regional company once that hired me about the same time they hired someone with some degree in the field (the specifics escape me) Guess what? We both started out rolling cables and pushing boxes in the shop for 9 bucks an hour. Most people start that way regardless of weather they have a fancy education. All the education does is give you another tool to help you advance your career, It's not going to guarantee you a career. By all means get some sort of an education. But get experience and get a good work ethic too.
     
  9. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Actually, one of the worst things you could do is get a BA or BFA, then go on to immediately get an MFA. My friend/co-worker has his MFA in Theatre Design/Tech, and he taught at Northwestern, UW-Milwaukee, and a few other places. He watched a lot of people go straight from the bachelor's to the master's, only to find out they really didn't enjoy the field. He also saw people who were awesome when it came to academics, but had zero practical abilities. I'd say the education you get working is just as important as the education you get from sitting in a class room. Any light plot can look attractive on paper, but could completely bomb when the plot is actually hung. My advice would not be to find the "best" or "most expensive" school, but rather that you find one where you'll get on-the-job experience. I'm currently in the market for a school, and I've made it a requirement that the school I end up attending must have a roadhouse that employs students to work incoming shows. I looked at the $35k/yr schools, and I have to say, I didn't see a huge difference from those in the $13k/yr schools. To be honest, the competition has been pathetic from what I expected of schools nearly 3x as expensive as a nearby state school.

    In summary, don't predict what you're education will be based on by how much it costs, and make sure you find a school that will provide you hands-on experience.
     
  10. soundop

    soundop Active Member

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    like i said, the school im currently looking at, hires and pays you to run lights and sound, for the events on campus, and in the surrounding area
     
  11. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    That's a great start but the more you can do outside of school will help you even more. Push yourself to keep busy doing gigs anywhere you can find paid or not. Just keep busy doing gigs. The connections you can make are golden.
     
  12. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    Often times the tech possibilities are limited in private schools for political or funding reasons. Some schools are "business" schools, some schools are "sciences" schools, it just depends on what the board of trustees or whoever want the school to be known for. Often things like the the arts are considered extra- or co-circular and don't receive the funding that may be available at a larger school with a demand for a wider variety of course work. My university is a prime example. We DO pay students an opportunity to work events, both professional road crews, and internal events, but the Event Tech Crew is an extra-curricular activity. Actually it's considered work-study. If you want to get a degree in something technical the options are limited to Music Production and Technology (mostly recording studio work) or a Theatre major, which is acting and technique and tech and all that. While I think the overall education is better than what someone would get sitting in a state school classroom with 300 other students, Most private schools don't have the money available to us to have the bleeding edge technology that State schools have in their theatres. It's an uphill battle that most privately funded institutions face every time the budget meetings come up. OTOH, most businesses not attached to Broadway or Time-Warner have limited budgets to work with too, so learning how to do more with less isn't exactly a bad skill to have. If you would be interested in our school and our work-study program, let me know and I'll hook you up with an admissions rep.
     
  13. rosebudld

    rosebudld Member

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    Hey WIU! I've got a friend working on her Masters in Scenic Design (I think) up there.. audio wise you're in a tough position.. some friends of mine went to The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences at Tempe, AZ and they've said it's a great place to get a formal education (and doesn't take 4 years!), but you can't rely on the education to get you a job.. you've got to network and get your foot in the door somewhere and often times starting of without any knowledge working productions is a great way to get the real world experience.. I got my BA in Forensic Chemistry and I'm the LD/ME/TD or whatever the production requires here in this road house because I learned by working with people and reading up on my own.. Send me a message if you want to chat more!
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    This is a tough requirement, and really limits the choices of places to go. Most schools bring in concerts and events that students either volunteer for or work for, often these are done in gyms or on football fields, which can give an interesting load-in/out experience. There was a video posted in off-topic (I think) of the O.A.R. load in at someone's school.

    I think what you really want to look for is schools in locations where there are opportunities. I went to a school, Ithaca College, which is in a town that has tons of opportunities for students to get involved. There are multiple venues on campus and in town or in the surrounding area to work and get experience. You will find that if you don't limit yourself to a school that provides on-campus experience that there are many schools that fit the bill.

    This is totally true, cost does not denote how good an education you will get. The most important thing is to go to a school you like, in a location you like, with faculty you like and the program you want. Then worry about cost.


    /Sorta related hijack/

    Actually, I think you have this backwards, most private institutions do better financially than public. Why? Because they aren't relying on government money and they don't spread themselves too thin. Now, bear in mind that not all state school are like this, nor are all private schools.

    Here is the rub, state schools (in general, but not all) try to provide affordable education for anyone who needs it in as many disciplines as possible. So what does that mean? Well you end up with huge schools with large enrollment, with most students paying the discounted locals tuition. You have lots of facilities and programs most of which always fighting for money. Money is usually given to departments based on enrollment, so the financials of each department depend on having enough students.

    Now, much of the same can be said about private schools, but there are many major differences. First, the students who go to private institutions have found a way to pay for it. At $35K+ per year and going up, even small schools take in lots of money. Then consider that most private schools collect the same tuition no matter how many credits you take within the range of "full time status" which is usually between 12-18. On the other hand most state schools only charge you for the credits you take.

    Where does that $35K+ go? Well, a lot of it goes to endowments, this is important. Endowments allow schools to offer scholarships and give money to departments. Some goes to maintaining the facility, paying for faculty and staff and the rest goes into the general funds (this is a very simplified description).

    Now lets compare two schools of similar size, say the University of Utah (state school) and Cornell University (private). The table below is based on non-resident enrollment costs (the enrollment numbers are total undergrad enrollment).

    Enrollment|26000|21000
    Tuition|~$16000|~$33700
    Room & Board|~$6000|~$11200
    Total Cost|~$22000|~$44900
    So, the private school takes in about double the tuition per student and still comes out ahead with lower enrollment. Now, in my opinion having had some involvement at both schools Cornell has the better theatre program.

    That being said, it isn't always true, there are plenty of state schools with wonderful programs and there are private schools with lousy programs. Yes, private schools often seem to be more specialized, but that isn't a bad thing, you just have to find the schools that specializes in what you want. You wouldn't go to a business school for an education in theatre. However there are plenty of schools with great theatre programs that are known for different programs. There are also plenty of liberal arts schools with excellent theatre/arts programs as well.

    This whole discussion ties back to a well known idiom: "Jack of all trades yet a master of none." Again this does NOT apply to ALL state schools and it DOES apply to SOME private schools. When you try to do too many things it is hard to be the best at any one of them. The schools that offer courses or degree programs in almost anything usually (not always) are not the best at any of them. This is not to say that they don't have excellent programs, just not the best.

    /end hijack/

    In short, unless you are picking schools based on financial reasons first then the most important thing is to pick the school that fits you. You want to find a school with a program that you like and you feel you will get the most out of. You want to pick a school in a location you like that offers the opportunities you want. Ultimately, after four years if you come out happy with the education you received then it doesn't matter if you went to East Bumblebutt College or Harvard. It doesn't matter if you spent $15K or $50K as long as you got what you wanted.

    So don't judge schools by the book and numbers. Take everything that your campus tour guide says with a grain of salt. Sit in on classes, talk to the students. If the schools offer an "overnite in a dorm" program then do it. Also, make sure you visit the town that schools are in, not just the school itself. Can you see yourself living there for 4 years?

    NOTE: All the opinions expressed above are just that, opinions. You don't need to listen to me or take my advice. I do not mean to offend, and I apologize if I do.

    ALSO: Facts and figures were gathered from the websites of the respective schools.
     
  15. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Wow Alex, that was great. I can't say that I can offer too much more advice. I am going to suggest a school to look at, but only for the opportunities that you are seeking, I cannot vouch for the program (I had no direct affiliation). Arizona State University (where I went to school for Archaeology, never took a theater class) has on campus a road-house where there are student opportunities to work. Since you will be working in an environment with both union and non-union crews, you can form your opinions about that as well (I ended up joining the union after being a student working alongside the union crew and that involvement was a deciding factor in them taking me on).

    I know that a lot of money has been dumped into the theater program recently by a fine family. Due to that involvement, the program has improved considerably. From the students I knew in the program, they loved all the opportunities that they had on campus and at the regional theaters throughout the city. Check out the latest Live Design magazine on their article about the Tempe Performing Arts Center located walking distance from the campus.

    During the summer months, there aren't as many opportunities in the theater community, but Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas are all only about a 5 hour drive and internship opportunities abound.

    Good luck on your hunt.
     
  16. Adorian

    Adorian Member

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    I go to a college where they are VERY dedicated in letting everyone try new things. I've seen costume people hanging lights like pro's and set designers sitting in a shop with a needle and thread! The thing they are always telling us though is that we have to network. This business does rely on talent, but at the same time...if you know people it helps.

    So I guess I'm just beating a dead horse by saying this (since it seems this is the general advice everyone is giving) but do what you can with school, while stilll trying to network. Go out and intern during the summer or try to get even just a small job somewhere your interested in working. Tons of my friends have gotten jobs at places they worked at before during their college years.
     
  17. Les

    Les Well-Known Member

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    I have a friend who is attending SUNY Purchase and he says that they are not allowed to work any shows outside of the program. Doing so can be grounds for removal from the program. No offense to him or anyone who goes there but that would be a deal breaker for me.
     
  18. soundop

    soundop Active Member

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    ok, please dont kill me for asking this, but has any one here been to the art institute for audio production...come on it prolly is better then full sail
     
  19. Adorian

    Adorian Member

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    I have friends who go to art institutes for specific reasons and here is the general idea that I get from talking to them. It's great if you only want to be in there for one thing and one thing only. You will not get any training in anything else and you will be expected to be dedicated to that one area. I still say going to a place where you can become well rounded is best, but it really is your decision and what you think will be best for YOU.
     
  20. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    Icewolf,
    I can't speak to state school finances, my experience is limited to weather they pay me for services rendered (happens most of the time). I looked at a couple when I was a senior in high school and just couldn't imagine being stuck in a classroom with a couple hundred other kids on a campus the size of a small town. But they had lots of opportunities, presumably because they had access to funding, both tuition and state resources. I suppose there were some economies of scale involved also.
    The private schools that I looked at, and the one I currently work at don't have access to the state funds. Absent those resources, tuition is higher, and the rest of our operating funds come from endowments set up by benefactors and other charitable gifts. Based on my experience, that's fairly common among smaller private schools. Because of this more limited funding, private schools have to be more particular in what they offer, usually concentrating in a few areas very well rather than many areas with less success.
    In an attempt to get this back to the comments at hand, any school, public or private will probably have some sort of crew who puts shows together. Weather on not that crew gets paid for the experience may well depend on weather or not a school has the funding to do so. In our case, the school does. I know of a similar sized (private) school that does not. However, the experience is still there. I would still suggest caution about very specific degrees like sound engineering unless the OP is dead set on this career and will never change their minds. Especially in today's (and the foreseeable future) economy, flexibility may be the key success. I would repeat my comment from earlier, a fancy education is not going to guarantee any career, it's only a tool to get you on the way. I suppose once the OP decides on a course of action and education, state or private school is really irrelevant
    Matt
     

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