It’s been 10 years since I graduated from college. While that fact in and of itself is hard to swallow (has it really been 10 years?!) I can’t help but look back on these past ten years without feeling totally content with where I am now. When I go back through everything that has happened since I graduated, there is one defining experience that started it all – my internship at Shimon Presents. I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic and introspective about it lately, so I figured I would put the story out there. I hope you enjoy!
Finding My True Passion
I majored in Music Industry Studies. If you’ve spent any time at all on this blog, you know that Sasha and I are both live music fanatics. I saw this career path as a way to always be able to do what I loved most – travel to concerts and music festivals (travel is the key word here). I had romantic ideas of being a tour/band manager or promoter and traveling all over the world with my passion.
Then I went to All Good Music Festival in the summer of 2007, the summer before my senior year. What a life changing event that was!
From that moment on, all I wanted to do was work at music festivals. I even created my own concept for a music festival. It was going to be Alice in Wonderland themed with trippy trees and Cheshire cats everywhere. There was even going to be a whole section of the festival dedicated to tea parties and unbirthday parties.
Anyway, I digress. Later that summer, I went to Camp Bisco and fell even more in love with festivals. I couldn’t actually afford to go to that festival but fortunately, my friend Ben knew about a volunteer program where you could work for a few hours at the festival in exchange for your ticket. That’s where I was first introduced to WET (Work Exchange Team). I had found my ticket.
Thinking About the Future
Have you ever been to a workshop or conference where they ask you to write down what you want your life to look like in five to ten years? That’s what many of my professors asked in my last semester. I honestly had no idea, I still don’t (and that’s okay). All I knew was that I just wanted to have fun (cue Cyndi Lauper) and I wanted that fun to involve music and travel.
As spring semester got closer, I had to figure out where I was going to do my internship. It was required in order to graduate. About that same time, they announced Langerado Music Festival in Florida. It coincided with my spring break. There was no better way to spend that week! However, I was broke as a joke and that ticket was expensive.
I did some digging around on the festival website and saw that WET was going to be there organizing the volunteers. It made me curious about who actually started WET. I did some more digging and learned that it was a company called Shimon Presents; a grass-roots music promotions company. That’s when the lightbulb went off:
Maybe they have an internship program!
I mean, how perfect would it be to fulfill my graduation credits while living my passion?! Sure enough, they definitely had a program that had just started.
That March, I headed down to Florida with two friends who were also volunteering. I had a fantastic time at Langerado. I made lots of new friends and saw some amazing music. Seth (the owner of Shimon Presents) signed my official university internship documents while sitting on the back of a golf cart. I was officially going to be a Shimtern!
Getting My Feet WET in the Music Biz: My Internship at Shimon Presents
That summer, after all the graduation festivities and going away parties, I bid farewell to Boone, NC and headed down to Atalanta to work in the Shimon Presents headquarters. It was my first experience in the “real world.” The move was intimidating and exciting. I found a room for rent with some graduate students at Georgia Tech. This is where I got my first taste of big city life.
I would work in the office every day with Seth, Amy, and the other interns. My tasks included organizing photos from the street team volunteers scattered across the country and preparing them to send to the festival organizers and promoters. I was also in charge of contacting people who signed up to volunteer with WET to remind them to pay their deposit and answer any questions they had. Seth and Amy taught us all about grass-roots marketing, promotions, and networking.
In our downtime, we would all go to concerts or smaller shows at local bars in Atlanta’s thriving music scene. I got to get up on stage and dance with Ivan Neville of Dumpstaphuk and go backstage after a Moe. concert. I made several new friends in Atlanta. It was a glorious time!
All of these outings were just the run-up to the most exciting part of the summer – actually working at the festivals!
The Festival of All Festivals: Rothbury 2008
The first festival of the summer was the one that everyone was most excited about. It was the festival of all festivals with one of the most impressive lineups – Rothbury 2008! I had high expectations for this one. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this festival was going to change my life in more ways than one. Of course, it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. But everything that was supposed to happen, did.
Myself, two other interns, and Stephanie (the volunteer manager) piled into my car and drove all the way up to Michigan from Atlanta. It was a long drive but my adrenaline and excitement kept me behind the wheel the whole way. We arrived late at night, pitched our tents, and went to sleep as we had to be up early the next day to greet the volunteers and get to work on the pre-fest tasks.
The next day started bright and early. To my pleasant surprise, many of the pre-fest volunteers were people I had met before through doing street team or volunteering at other fests. I was happy to see so many familiar faces. The best part of all was that I was in charge of a golf cart! You’re like, super cool if you get to drive a golf cart around a music festival.
Finding My Tribe
This particular group of pre-festival volunteers had the best campsite I had ever seen. They had a trampoline! Can you think of anything better to have at a music festival?! The first chance I got, I took down my campsite from the volunteer camping and moved in with them.
The night before the music started, the gates opened at midnight and the rest of the massive crew arrived at the campsite. This wasn’t just any crew, though – this was the WOMP crew. I stayed up all night making new friends. I even fell asleep at my shift in the morning because of it. Whoops!
The rest of the weekend was spent connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old ones while fulfilling my intern duties. I saw a lot of awesome music and lost a lot of sleep but it was all worth it. One afternoon while I was hanging out on the trampoline, a random dude named Sasha who was toting around a bag of wine hopped up and had a quick chat with me. I didn’t think anything of it at the time.
My summer was off to an amazing start.
Following the Country Roads to All Good
From Rothbury, we headed to West Virginia for All Good, the music festival that had started it all for me. Many of my college friends who were also at Rothbury came as well. It was a great weekend but it lacked the intense energy that Rothbury had. It’s a much more chilled out festival. I was able to focus more on the business side of things and spend some QT with my old friends.
By the end of the weekend, I was pretty exhausted and ready to get back to Atlanta. For once, I wasn’t able to drive all the way back. I had to give it up a few hours away from the city.
I spent that week back in Atlanta resting up for the next big festival.
A Weekend Off at Camp Bisco
It was at Camp Bisco a year prior where I discovered WET so I was pretty excited to get back to where it all started. WET didn’t work at that festival in 2008 but they knew the promoters so they got me on the guest list as a thank you for my work at Rothbury and All Good.
I found out that several of my new friends were there so I immediately set off to find them upon my arrival. It was a much smaller crew this time but that made it easier to keep up with everyone. That same random dude Sasha was with them toting around another bag of wine. He got my attention the first night by spinning me around in circles outside the late-nite tent.
As the weekend progressed, things got a little weird with the guy who had given me a ride. I finally just needed to get away from him. It worked out perfectly that Sasha was looking for people to go see music with. As we were walking to the stage, he suddenly stopped, got down on one knee and proposed with a ring pop. He just said, “Will you?” My interest was peaked.
We spent the rest of the weekend talking all night and watching the Disco Biscuits. He told me he was moving to China in a month to teach English. We exchanged numbers but I didn’t expect to see him again. As I said goodbye on the final morning, I walked away thinking, “That guy is cool. Too bad he’s moving to China.”
Bringing It All Together
The whole point of this wordy story is all to say that everything I’ve done since 2008 wouldn’t have happened if not for my internship at Shimon Presents. Did I find my dream job in the music business? No, I didn’t. I realize now that’s not what I was meant to do. I was also a bit too immature at the time to handle such a gig.
But I did have the best summer of my life. I met my tribe – the WOMP crew. These people are still my closest friends who I still keep in touch with to this day. I met my best friend and life partner that summer. Thanks to that chance meeting I’ve lived in China, Bali, Mexico, and traveled to countless countries in between. I wouldn’t have gone backpacking around Southeast Asia or been a digital nomad in South America.
Sasha and I are celebrating the last decade by having a year-long party!
Doing this internship gave me a taste of life on the road by driving all over the country to music festivals and concerts. I would have never known how much I like big city life if I had never moved to Atlanta. Most of all, I would have never been able to really put myself out there in uncomfortable situations, into the unknown.
I’ve been able to use what I learned about networking, marketing, and promotions to grow this blog and get it to the point it is now. Thanks to the relationships I built with Seth and Amy, I’ve been able to volunteer at multiple festivals in the last few years. The summer of 2009 was the biggest when Sasha and I went to 5 music festival and 20 Phish concerts.
So, if this is something you might be interested in, go into it with an open mind. You will learn a ton, have an amazing time, and make life-long friends.
Interning for Shimon Presents in 2018
Things have changed quite a bit since my days as a Shimtern. Seth is no longer signing internship papers on the back of a golf cart. You’ll have to head to the website to formally apply. Aside from a two-week training period in Atlanta with Amy, the position is completely remote! There are two different programs: the regular internship and their brand new “Reach For the Stars” program.
In the regular internship, interns are trained to be festiVOL certified. FestiVOL is Shimon Presents’ volunteer management software that any event can use to manage their volunteer staff. Shimterns will be trained to work for such events and be a specialist using the software. The top interns will be recommended for running a program as a paid staff member.
Shimterns are also in charge of customer support, answering emails, and communicating with volunteers and fan staff before the festivals. At the music festivals, they will be working with the database to schedule workers as well as clock people in and out of their shifts. They will also work as runners to get the volunteers to and from their shifts and transport supplies. Most importantly, Shimterns will be creating relationships. It’s a very hands-on position where you’ll be working with all the different departments to assist with the flow of communication.
Top Shimterns are invited back as staff until they can move on to something bigger and better.
“Reach For the Stars” Program
I’m honestly quite excited about this new program and wish it had been an option 10 years ago! Here’s a description from Amy:
This is a program we designed to give a leg up to WETs that have higher WPLs (Work Perfomance Level) and Star Levels in festiVOL, earned working with a variety of departments. We specially select a stand-out WET for each event and work with a specialized department to place the WET in more of an internship position within that department. The goal is to give the WET worker an opportunity to truly stand out and get their foot in the door, make contacts and create lasting relationships with the event department, and hopefully get a paid gig out of their efforts. Reach for the Stars participants work PreFest and all days during-fest, to give the greatest impact to the department, and provide the ideal platform for future paid gigs. The first recipient of “Reach For the Stars” worked in Artist Hospitality at Okeechobee Music Festival 2018. She said the experience was intense and exciting, and that the team has plans to hire her on for future events. So, great success!!”
If it’s not an internship you’re looking for but you do want to volunteer at some music festivals this summer, the Work Exchange Team is the perfect option. Who knows, maybe you’ll do such a stand out job that you’ll get to participate in the “Reach For the Stars” program!
Their festivals for summer 2018 include Firefly, Electric Forrest (formerly Rothbury), and Phish’s Curveball. Whether you volunteer or become a Shimtern, the experience is sure to change your life, as it did mine!