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Robert Vega, Director FAC 18 / 2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200 78712-1508 • 512-471-7900

South By South West (SXSW)

Spring 2014 Site Review

Position: Music Marketing and Web Content Intern
Student: History Senior

During the beginning of my internship, I would go into the SXSW office twice a week, but once it got closer to SXSW festival, I went into the office three times a week. It is a big time commitment. I would come into the office every Monday/Wednesday from 10-6. Every morning, I would check in with my boss to see what he needed to be done, however, once I got into the swing of things, I would carry on with my work without being told what to do.

A lot of my responsibilities revolved around tracking and recording social media activity. First, I would record responses to social media posts like on Twitter and Facebook. Then, I would discuss ways we could gain more traffic to the SXSW site and new social media platforms we could utilize to get the brand out there. I also recorded the listenership of SXSWfm, SXSW’s official online radio station. The internship is very self-motivated, especially during the SXSW festival week. Once I understood what my boss was looking for in blog posts, I was writing one to two blog posts a day, along with editing pictures for web use. This internship was very heavy writing based. Not only do you need to think creatively, but also have the knowledge to write about all different types of genres of music.

SXSW provides you with your own computer and access to their infinite music library. I found myself listening to music constantly. This is a good and bad thing. Sometimes you can get very lost in the music, but you need to remember to socialize and get to know staff members at SXSW. I would occasionally attend meetings within the music department, but I would always go to the all staff meeting on Wednesday. All the department leaders discuss what they are doing, if they need help, and any important news. I did not necessarily take a way a lot of information from these meetings, but it’s a great way to hear about all the departments that you may never get to see during SXSW. 

Spring 2013 Site Review

Position: Music Festival Intern
Student: Philosophy Senior

At South By Southwest I worked with a senior music festival booker evaluating bands, writing promotional pieces and keeping track of international band’s advancement. Until about November/December, the music festival organizers are hard at work taking note of who gets to perform at the festival. In this early stage of planning you’re to sit through and listen to a variety of artists and read about their musical careers. After going through an artist’s profile (and doing a bit of independent research) you’re to grade them based on both musical merit (proficiency) and career merit (how serious is this band about becoming professional). The process at South By is pretty air tight and out of about the ten thousand that apply only a fraction get to actually perform. Because there are so many bands music festival interns have a pretty important part in sifting through the sea of talent. In addition to evaluation, there was plenty of writing to do. It’s funny, I used to take web content for granted but as I started writing promotion pieces for the website I began to realize all written word on the internet is written by someone (probably an intern!). Whenever my supervisor booked a show I would get right down to work on the write-up; mentioning the artists and letting folks know where the show will be. Writing these and helping to write the press releases are some of the staple assignments of the internship. Lastly, one big part of the internship is helping to advance the artists. Particularly in my internship where we dealt with so many international acts it was important to make sure bands had all their visas cleared with US customs. Some bands have more difficulty than others; dependent on country of origin and state of affairs in that country. Definitely provided a worldwide perspective on things.

Spring 2013 Site Review

Position: Planning Food and Beverage Coordinating Intern
Student: Psychology Sophomore

The Planning Food and Beverage Coordinator internship at South by Southwest, Inc. (located at 400 Bowie Street, Austin, TX) is a valuable experience for anyone who wants to learn about the logistics of coordinating a mega-event, while getting hands on experience behind the scenes of one of the world’s most famous festivals.

At the start of this particular internship, the primary task is preparing the Banquet Event Orders (BEOs) for that year’s event. This involves scheduling around and working with a large number of the South by Southwest staff in order to determine what the proper food and beverage orders are. A high level of organization is required, because there are numerous changes to these orders in the weeks leading up to the event. As a part of the planning team, there are also other tasks to take on. Every couple weeks or so, there are walkthroughs of the Austin Convention Center that at least some part of (if not the whole) planning team takes the lead on. Interns are usually present for these if possible, and take notes on the proceedings (any questions staff members have, questions about placement to be brought up later, etc.)

The position requires about twenty hours a week up until the last few weeks of the event. During this time, between coordinating with the catering and company and trying to finish as many arrangements as possible, the hours may extend past twenty hours a week. The office closes at six pm, however leading up to the event it is not uncommon for full time staff members to be there until late in the night. Then of course during the event the planning interns usually work around twelve hour days, for the entire festival.

Spring 2011 Site Review

Position: Volunteers Intern
Student: Government Senior

The process of becoming an intern at South by Southwest (SXSW) begins in late October of the fall semester. Interested students should keep up to date with the career services offices on campus. I attained my internship position from Liberal Arts Career Services (LACS), located on the basement of Flawn Academic Center. Students should check on the LACS website for the informal meet and greet with the volunteer coordinators Gene Butler on the conference volunteering side, and James Shainult on the Music Production Side. Gene and James will pass along information on all the internships available in a variety of departments from planning to conference tech. I will touch base on the internship with the volunteering department.

A day in the life of an intern at SXSW is exciting and fun. There have been many changes to SXSW throughout the years, but the company still maintains it’s lay back culture. I enjoyed working in an environment where there’s no dress code, and everyone wore SXSW gear at work all day every day. Before the interns were hired, the coordinators outlined a list of mandatory dates and events that all interns were required to attend. Events such as the Volunteering Calls usually set on a Sunday and Wednesday, where volunteers mingled and interviewed with different volunteering crew chiefs about potential volunteering opportunities. Interns played an important role during the volunteering calls by streamline the process and maintain the information booths. 

As an intern for the volunteering department you can see first hand how the SXSW operates by working the volunteers check in center, providing logistic support to over 2900 volunteers, and even work the registration component for over 20,000 badge holders.  Most interns worked at least 20 hours a week from January to March. During the week of SXSW interns worked tireless from 8 in the morning till 10 pm at night. If you are interested in SXSW be prepare to work at least 40 to 50 hours during the week of Spring Break.

Lets not forget the fantastic perks you acquire as an intern at SXSW. You will get clothes such as Nike staff jacket, crew chiefs zip ups sweaters, shoes from vans, jeans from True Religion, and most importantly a platinum, all access badge valued at 1200 dollars. With the badge you can get into all the shows and events you want to attend at SXSW.

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