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Life as a summer intern at the Barbershop Harmony Society – Marita May

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When describing my intern experience to my friends and family back in Iowa, I generally begin by saying, “First of all, Barbershop is a whole new world!” (cue Aladdin song) Coming from an a-cappella background similar to the movie Pitch Perfect, the idea of barbershop was familiar to me, but I didn’t fully understand the culture, or the thrill, until our Vegas convention this year.

I started interning on June 2nd, and therefore have been interning here at BHS for a little over a month now. I found this internship through my Career Center at Luther College, the school I attend in Decorah, IA. I knew I wanted to be in Nashville this summer, because I study violin and voice performance in school with a management focus, and the Nashville area seemed so appealing for all my interests. I asked what they could find via alumni connections in Nashville for music internships and the search yielded the name: Marty Monson, Luther alum, Barbershop Harmony Society. I was so pleased when I called and heard that there was an interning position for music event planning open- something I hadn’t previously considered, but that interested me. Combining music and people is the only stipulation I set for myself when it comes to my career, so I was happy that this internship worked out!

Prior to the convention, I was helping Dusty with the jobs that needed to be done concerning catering, reservations, tickets, judge’s meals, staff travel coordination, emailing confirmations to convention attendees, and most of all, planning our staff party for the first night Vegas. I quickly realized a lot of the job is communication and internet based. Leading up to the convention I had so many people warn me “Hold on tight, you’re in for a thrill ride” “Rest up now, because you won’t be sleeping at all” etc.The friendly warning list went on and on. Well, it turns out they weren’t joking! Although it was tiring to run around at the MGM Grand the whole week (we’re estimating 6-7 miles of walking a day) I was happy to experience everything in full force. I felt “converted” to barbershop after watching the first five groups perform on the (Wednesday) quartet quarterfinals, and had goose bumps at least three times during every performance.

The most general thing I can say is that I am thankful for how much I learned in that one week. My badge during the convention stated “meetings and conventions” and that was true, but really I was a middle man helping things run smoothly. Staff members and volunteers would call me or stop me saying “We need this, at this place, now,” and I would get on the phone and make it happen. I was also in charge of taking care of money transactions with checks to the restaurants who were hosting our private meals for the judges, checking the judge’s room to make sure their lunch catering was correct during the contest, and at night sometimes I checked on receptions and parties. Running around made it possible for me to observe, and take note of how much goes into a convention, and how many details there are that hundreds of people help string together. It’s extremely rewarding to see something you planned come together for people who have a common passion, music. In addition, I was so surprised by the encouragement and appreciation I received from my fellow staff members here at BHS. During the trip I was never treated as “just an intern” and I loved being part of our team.

Now that the convention is over, I’m helping a little bit with Harmony University and am planning the gathering we are hosting here at headquarters for the attendees. I am always excited to come to work each morning, because I love how interactive the staff is. I’ve had such a wonderful time getting to know everyone who works here, and I’ve enjoyed all the shenanigans that have ensued in the past month and a half. Although I still feel like an outsider when it comes to Nashville, I always feel at home when I come into work each morning here at BHS.

A few pictures- Staff badges display, and a picture I took on our high roller ride in Vegas during the staff party!


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