Making industry connections
by Jon Reimer, class of 2015
At NNU we strongly believe it is important to invest in experiences that diversify our education and help introduce and prepare students for their future careers. For many students, field-specific internships are the catalyst to broadening worldviews, establishing beneficial relationships and enhancing their NNU education.
Last fall, two senior NNU music industry majors, Nathan Knox and Miles Wilson, took advantage of a prestigious and highly competitive internship opportunity at the Contemporary Music Center (CMC) in Nashville, Tennessee, available through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. The program is a semester-long intensive experience designed to prepare students for careers in the music industry. Both Nathan and Miles believe this program was a highlight of their collegiate years, gifting them many benefits and resources, and was instrumental in molding their outlook on the future.
One of these gifts is the relationships they formed. “You are going into this industry with this built-in family all across the country. It’s crazy; they [CMC grads] are all over. You could call anyone up in any town, and they would put you up for the night. It’s like a blood brotherhood,” says Nathan.
“We were alongside people who were in the industry; our teachers are still in the industry and actively involved. By knowing them, you can make connections and learn from the best. If I moved to Nashville right now, I wouldn’t be going in blind. I’ve got people I can call. Whether that leads to a job or a place to stay, it is a leg-up.”
Having both excelled while in the program, Nathan and Miles recognize that having the program director’s recommendation is a large boost. Nathan said, “If Warren (the CMC director) says, ‘Yes, I will recommend you for anything, just let me know when you are in town,’ that is massive. That is super huge. He has sent students everywhere.”
Nathan and Miles are not the first NNU students to become CMC alumni. NNU has had a number of students participate in this program over the years. Justin Hugus (’12) also attended CMC and credits it for many career opportunities in the industry.
“While my time at NNU was incredibly life-giving and gave me innumerable opportunities to grow and develop, I would say that it was the CMC that ultimately gave feet to those skills.”“My experience at the CMC absolutely paved the way to my current work. While my time at NNU was incredibly life-giving and gave me innumerable opportunities to grow and develop, I would say that it was the CMC that ultimately gave feet to those skills. The CMC honed my skills and prepared me for work in Christian music in practical, tangible ways.
“Through the CMC, I was given an opportunity to prove myself. It was a lot of hard work, but by being a good steward of each successive opportunity, here I am. It has taken three years, but I’m now the production manager and front-of-house audio engineer for Building 429.”
Hugus, too, can attest to the value of the relationships developed through CMC. “Relationships are the currency of the music industry. Ultimately, [opportunities are] all about job performance and the ability to be a relational person out on the road.”
Though CMC was directly responsible for the opportunities Hugus has had, which led to his current job, he still believes it was NNU that helped prepare him for that opportunity.
“I would say that going to the CMC was potentially the most valuable decision I could have made within my college career, but I don’t know if that’s an entirely fair statement. CMC was a culmination—a capstone if you will—of all my education and career-oriented decisions up to that point. The faculty in the NNU music department taught me so much. I gained valuable road experience through my three summers traveling with Covenant. Playing chapels and church services and traveling with choirs, recording events and recitals—everything that I had the opportunity to do while at NNU—were valuable in ways that I may never know.”
Nathan and Miles, both of whom are in their last semester at NNU, would recommend the experience to any who are serious about entering the music industry. “I would absolutely recommend it if you are not afraid to get your ego crushed to make your music better,” says Nathan. Miles found that though the mentors at CMC were often brutally honest, the experience was still worth it. “You see the good, bad and the ugly of it [the music industry]. You see why you love it. You see what potentially scares you away, and you also see the dark side. They didn’t make the music industry sound like it was perfect. They told us horror stories, which make you ask, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ Then you create something awesome, and it’s all worth it.”
With a few years’ experience and a successful career underway, Hugus agrees, “The CMC was incredibly shaping and valuable, in my opinion. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to other students hoping to learn about the various aspects of the music industry while still within the safety of academia. But my CMC experience wouldn’t have been what it was without my NNU experience.”
Photo caption: Miles Wilson, on the bass, and Nathan Knox, on the drums, play a gig during their semester at the CMC. Photo by Warren Petit, director, Contemporary Music Center.