More than just a local gig; international experience

By Gessica Charniga 

Throughout their college careers, students often think about landing the internship of their dreams, but don’t know where to start or how to obtain it.

For senior English major Breanne Needles, her standout attributes in the classroom helped her to be considered for an internship that will undeniably benefit her future.

When an opportunity was presented to her by Mickey Hess, professor of English, Needles couldn’t turn it away.

Hess is a hip-hop expert, as anyone who has had class with him knows.

His long history in the complex scene of academic hip-hop has led him to make connections with many people in the music industry. One of them is Eva Ries, who works as an international entertainment booking agent.

“I met Eva when I was writing a biography of Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan,” Hess said. “Eva has organized Wu-Tang’s international tours since 1993, and she worked closely with Dirty and my co-author Buddha Monk.”

When Ries told Hess that she was looking for help, he suggested students whom he knew would be right for the position.

“Breanne had taken two of my creative writing courses, so I knew her work ethic and writing skill as well as her love for and knowledge of music,” Hess said.

Needles was happy for the opportunity after having been “disappointed a few times” in looking for internships. She was on the brink of giving up when Hess told her that he had recommended her for an assistant position with Ries. Once she interviewed and got the position, Needles was able to jump head-first into the world of music entertainment, and, though she works in Hopewell, the experience is anything but local.

“[Ries] plans and books musical artists to tour internationally,” Needles said. “She is originally from Germany, so all of her contacts are overseas, meaning we work with the U.K. and Europe mostly.

“I work about 12 to 15 hours per week, depending on how busy a certain project will keep us. Working for her last spring, I was working about 20-plus hours a week because we were working on the Wu-Tang Clan European tour for the summer. And with so many guys in the band, it was a lot of work. While right now, working on the recording artist Nena’s tour, it isn’t quite as hectic.”

Getting to be in contact with important names in the industry is one of the best perks for Needles.

“It’s certainly fun to be included in emails with some big name artists and CEOs of LiveNation. I was on an email once with a few of the guys from Wu-Tang Clan and one guy saw my name in the email and asked ‘Yo, is Needles part of the Wu?’ He thought I was a rapper, so that won me some street cred, I think.”

Aside from her inside jokes with members of Wu-Tang, Needles works hard to stay focused, because her work is crucial for her boss’ success.

“I assist [Ries] in keeping things organized, and I often make up spreadsheets to keep track of hotel bookings, and all expenses that are made, among other things. I also draw up and edit contracts, then I take these contracts and send them to the tour promoters for their review and signature,” Needles explained. “Even though I’m just sitting at a desk with my laptop, it is a very fast-paced job and there are many deadlines we need to meet. At the end of the day, I probably review and edit 20 or more contracts and send out about 100 emails.”

Even though her English major background isn’t terribly helpful when it comes to the math aspects of the position, Needles said her honed skills come in handy when proofreading and writing press releases. She is also confident that this internship was a great choice for her.

“I really enjoy this internship because there is always something new to do, so it never gets boring,” she said. “Even if I don’t go this route in my own career, I have developed some really great skills through this experience, and it’s a cool thing to have on a resume.”

Printed in the 11/11/15 edition.

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