My name is Neelu Mohaghegh and I am in Questrom (’18) concentrating in marketing. My dreams and aspirations always were to work in the music industry. I had always been passionate about music and creatively working alongside the artists themselves to portray their music in the way they wanted their audience to perceive it. Since starting at Questrom, I knew I wanted to do the BULA program, and so, summer after my junior year, I decided after the small doses and experiences I had accumulated over the course of my 3 years at BU, it was time to go into the actual field to apply it all and to learn more. I studied in Los Angeles, California for the Internship-Only program summer of 2017. I chose summer partly because it fit my schedule best and partly because I wanted to be able to dedicate all of my time to my internship and work. I interned at Red Light Management which is an artist management company. I worked across the board and up and down the 3 levels of the company with various managers and assistants to help them accomplish creative and administrative tasks for their artists. For example, I tracked the social media accounts of Enrique Iglesias, assisted the manager of Portugal. The Man to figure out radio stations to reach out to during their tour, emailed PR teams and bloggers for festival season, created a Wikipedia page for a new artist, helped with determining features for demos and listened to unreleased singles to give opinions on the tracks, assisted as the receptionist, delivered mail, and more.
We were 21 interns in total spread throughout the company, and every given day, there were around 8 of us working each day. We all got along very well, as our interests aligned, and we all enjoyed each others’ company which made the internship an even more exciting place to be. Managers were willing to speak with you and assistants were willing to work with you and teach you what they knew. Towards the end of our internships, we were all asked to create an individual final project that we had to present and pitch to the managers, assistants and interns of the company.
Two things I truly learned is that you need to really put yourself out there. Offer to help and do tasks and don’t be afraid to say yes! You should be willing to try everything and try it with all of your effort because that’s what will show when you’re at your internship. And networks are your biggest asset. Get out and go to events and other activities; you will meet so many and learn so much. I did not realize that by entering into this program I would be enlightened to find out that I had so many other interests. I had the chance to really self-assert who I am and find that I had an interest somewhere in the realms of A&R and creative directing. I didn’t want to do tour management or analytics or specifically marketing. I had more interests in working closely with the artists and on events and new ideas to promote their music. So that was exciting for me to see.
I think I was surprised most by how much I didn’t actually know about myself and my aspirations as I mentioned above. But I was also caught off guard to find how different LA is to the east coast- everyone is a lot more relaxed over there and a lot more involved in the entertainment industry than most of the east coast. The other thing that I was shocked to find, more so about the program, was that it was a lot of work. I will say it again, be prepared to work!! You’re a LOT more independent now so you have to be prepared to step out of your comfort zones and start feeling like a real adult with a 9-5 (maybe) job, cooking for yourself and doing adult-like errands, and deciding when you hang with your friends and when you do work.
Not having a car was definitely one of the more difficult parts of this experience, only because it hindered a lot of our ability to travel and go to many events. Of course we Ubered plenty, but at the same time there was only so much Ubering that was acceptable without creating a hole into your wallet. But in that same regard, it was difficult equalizing that work-life balance when all you did was work and then went back to your apartment to perhaps do more work or cook and then sleep. Sometimes you’ll go straight after work to events for work or to network with people which is still considered work. You’ll start to wear yourself out. It is important to get out and take a break and have fun because that is also a part of the abroad experience!
The best part of this entire experience was definitely meeting so many amazing people! I got to chat to managers, artists, web developers, creatives and more people in the industry! It was just so cool to hear all of their stories while going to so many concert events in the city that were free! Also, after working an entire summer with the manager of Portugal. The Man, it was really cool that the manager gave me a free ticket to their concert at The Hollywood Palladium and got to see them live! It was a perfect way to end my internship experience!
My best tips for those wanting to study abroad here are these:
- Know that you want to work: Like I said above, it will be a lot of work and a little less play out here, but with the right mindset and a good balance, this will be a fulfilling experience.
- Network: Be sure to talk to as many people as possible, from work, at events, and in the program. You never know who you will come across that could be a new friend or someone who can help you navigate your way to your dream job.
- Passion: Always stay passionate. Remember why you came out here in the first place and why you are majoring in what you are majoring in at school, and let that drive you throughout your experience here!
- Good attitude and open mind: Stay positive because that kind of mindset will show with your co-workers and your peers and will demonstrate that you’re serious about all of this and that you really want to be here and make a good impression.
- Walk!!! When you can’t drive anywhere, don’t be afraid to walk around and explore the nice areas of LA and also save some money by taking a stroll around when you want to just get out of the apartment. You never know what you might find on the way!
I’d say that some of the best things to do in LA include coffee shop exploring (there are plenty around!), the Santa Monica Pier concerts (Twilight Concert Series) every Thursday night during the summer are definitely worth going to, and The Grove concerts every Wednesday night and School Night at the Bardot every Monday night are great concert events to see and hear emerging artists! Food wise, one of my favorite spots was “El Cartel”, which is a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican food joint that makes some of the best Mexican food I have ever had, and it’s so close to Park La Brea, where we live (next to the El Rey Theatre).