In five weeks I’ve learned how to navigate a city the size of three Manhattans, traveled around 13,556 miles by train, plane, bus, underground, and ferry, walked somewhere around 300 miles, saw several historical sites, met three famous actors, saw two West End shows, and went to a Q&A for a movie that’ll hit theaters in July. I met people from all around the world, gathered with Spartans at a restaurant on the Thames River, found a friend in the middle of Rome, and walked through Anne Frank’s house on her birthday.
Among all of these amazing things, I got to learn invaluable lessons about the field that I’m entering next spring. I heard advice on what the industry is really like, how to make moving from a small city to a big city work without breaking bank, and that pestering people will only help you. I fell in love with a city in three weeks of living there, and I learned to love the people there more.
The first lesson that I learned on this trip was from Viv, our tour guide through the “unseen” part of London. She’s a woman who had almost no physical possessions, but had the best attitude that I might have seen in anyone. She didn’t look back on her time being homeless as something horrible that happened to her, but she saw it as a time where she got to know London on an intimate level and got to see how much empathy people are capable of. Even when her life or her friends’ lives were being threatened by people who couldn’t understand what they weren’t familiar with, she just went with it and kept going on in life. If I can take any lesson from Viv, it’s that no matter what happens, keep going and wait to see what happens next.
From Torin Douglas, I learned that sometimes your opinion is necessary. I mean this in the best of ways. Torin Douglas did this in his reporting by trying to be subjective when he would deliver stories. Even when he reported on the death of Princess Diana, he had to remain calm and keep delivering the facts. In an emotional situation like this, he could express sympathy and sadness, but could not swing a story to a certain side when reviewing speculations on how the event occurred. Not every job allows for passionate opinions to be voiced, and sometimes you need to sound as impartial and subjective as you can. When I start my career, it will most likely be as an engineer. With this job, it won’t be my place to speak my opinion on what a client is doing, and I need to listen for direction and work hard to make the client comfortable.
At ITV, I learned that persistence is the real way to get what you want. Talent is only half of the battle, and being nice is the other half. But separate from those two factors, you always need to be persistent and always say “yes”. Joanne and Errol taught me this. As they reviewed their careers and talked about how they got to where they are now, I couldn’t help but be absolutely inspired and impressed. I have a ten year plan, and that plan closely resembles their career path. Seeing people so young be so successful gives me so much hope for when I begin my career. If all it takes to get it started is asking over and over again for an opportunity, I’ll do it.
Jen from Google taught me one of the more important lessons: keep it simple. I have a habit of over explaining everything. Once I get talking, I don’t stop. I like explaining things and painting a picture for people. Lot’s of times though, its unnecessary. To look more professional, I should make sure that all material needed is included, and keep the details to a minimum.
As much as I hate to say it, a lot of opportunities really depend solely on being in the right place at the right time. Josh Berger just kind of represents that whole concept. He very well might not have lived the life he has if he hadn’t played in the baseball game against his first job’s rivals. So while you can make things happen for yourself, luck also helps.
On my visit to Harrods where I didn’t actually hear a speaker or do anything academically relevant, I did learn to take time to step back from technology and appreciate other things. Like scooters. Scooters and candy are fun things that should always be appreciated, regardless of age.
Jess Dannheisser has a job that until I listened to her lecture, I would have imagined to be very frustrating. As a composer for films, she is one of the people that receives the content last in the process and might have to work the fastest. Her work is completely dependent on how things are edited, or by what the director wants, or even by a simple arm movement. Rather than seeing this as a restrictive profession, she sees this as an opportunity to be more creative. From Jess, I learned to make every job and opportunity count.
Jonathan Allen is the man who lives the life I want. He found his way to the top of the industry at one of the most reputable businesses without a shred of nepotism helping him to get there. He’s a producer at Abbey Road. That is my DREAM. It’s everything that I’ve always wanted from a career but had to realize early on that it most likely wouldn’t happen. Jonathan Allen convinced me that maybe it can. He also taught me that every project is an opportunity to become an expert in something new. From films to Polish operas, he loves what he does and is genuinely fascinated by it all. He clearly loves his job, and that’s all I could ever ask for in my future. I learned that day that I basically want his life and I want to love my job and always be fascinated and passionately love what it is that I’m doing.
After looking at stained glass windows for a day, Mallory taught me that good things happen over time. The King’s College chapel windows were built over a period of over fifty years, and they’re such precious works of art that they were taken down to be protected during World War II. Sometimes the things that are cherished most take time to develop, and there’s no need to rush them.
Dave Arnett gave me reassurance that true craftsmanship and the concept of taking time to handcraft a work is not a lost art. In the digital age, it’s a little discouraging to know that its no longer as important to learn every little detail about the equipment that you work every day with. There was a time when just pressing buttons on an audio board wasn’t enough. You had to know how to fix cables if they broke, and how to fix a board if something went wrong. You didn’t have Google for this, you just had training and a manual. Even though I didn’t see any audio related things at Design Bridge, I still saw that taking the time to do things by hand was a valued practice still.
From Jean Mackenzie, I learned that there’s no direct outline to getting what you want. You can go in with an idea of what you want to accomplish, but ultimately, following a roadmap without straying won’t be as fulfilling.
I learned so much in my time in London, and I could not have asked for a better experience. I’ll take all of these concepts with me as I go through life and my career, and hopefully it will have made me a better audio engineer.