Learn Through Apprenticeships
Jimi: The biggest difference with this program, Herb, is the fact that the student is trained one-on-one in a real facility. Our belief is the best way to learn is to learn one-on-one by someone who, frankly, pays their rent in the profession.
Brian: Yeah, some kids choose to go to school in a big classroom, on a campus, 45 minutes from their closest recording studio. Well, we think is that’s kind of silly. Why not get in the door now, work under a working audio engineer or music producer, make connections while you learn as an apprentice?
Jimi: Our audio engineers are all over the place, Herb. We’ve spent the last 30 years basically working on collecting mentors all over the country, Canada, and now we’re going international as well. And basically it’s where you live. If you live in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we put you with a mentor in a recording studio in Fort Wayne, Indiana. If you’re in LA, of course LA. Toronto. So it’s literally in your hometown.
Brian: And what’s nice about this is, we can match you with your favorite genre. So if you’re a hip-hop guy, we’ll find you a hip-hop beat maker producer in the city you live in. If you’re electronic music, we can do that. If you’re a rock and roll guy, if you’re a country music girl or guy, whatever you’re looking to do, we’ll place you with that mentor in that city that you live in.
Jimi: Not at all, Herb. What’s nice about the program is all the programs we have are under $10,000. And when you look at the fact that our competitors are 50, 70, 80, $100,000, our belief is to keep the cost very low. And we’re able to do that because we don’t need the big facilities and all the teachers. I mean, the facility is already there, because you’re training in a real recording studio in your town. So that saves a lot, and we make it very affordable for people. And we also have financing options. What I like about it as well is there really is a screening process. And I don’t know if you know how that works. But basically all of our candidates have to go to an interview at the studio first. Before they pay any money, they have to go to an interview, they have to obviously be accepted by the mentor. If they’re not accepted by the mentor, then they can’t get into the program. And we feel good about that, because then we know that we’re actually enrolling people who do have the potential for the profession.
Brian: We actually have a very, very serious vetting process. You have to be accepted by the actual music producer or audio engineer that you want to apprentice for. When he says, “Yes,” he’s saying,” I think you can make it. I want you to be an apprentice at this studio.” It’s a very special opportunity.
Brian: We’ve got a big problem and that is student debt. You’ve got hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in, frankly, every country right now graduating college only to find that there are no jobs for them in what they trained for. So what we do is say . . . your best possible way of getting a job is to be in the room where the hiring is done, and you have to stay out of debt in 2014. This isn’t 1985 anymore. Debt does kill dreams. And our mission is to keep kids out of debt and get them connected.
Brian: After they’re done with our programs, we have one year of actual, real, bona fide job placement where they actually take another structured course curriculum. And we actually send them out into the real world, if they haven’t been hired by their mentor, we send them out into the real world with tasks to do each week to find jobs, introduce them to new audio engineers and music producers and post production houses and film companies that they hadn’t met during their education.
Jimi: And the other thing nice, Herb, about job placement, I’m glad you brought that up is, when I devised this formula, the great thing about it is the job placement is already intact for many students, because they’re in the door already. We find that at least 60% of our students will get a job either from or because of their mentor. Meaning, if they don’t get hired right there, the mentor will call a friend or a colleague across town who will hire them. That’s half the battle. What we’re doing is what schools don’t do is we’re putting you in the door. And if you’re in the door, that’s half the battle. But as Brian said, if you don’t get on, we have an added program that’s part of the curriculum that they take to help.
Brian: And as Jimi said, it’s a great point. The first person we call if the mentor who was doing the training couldn’t hire that particular student just because he couldn’t, we call him and say, “Yeah, but what about the 100 people that you know in this city or in that town or that recording studio or that post-production house? Can you get him in?” That’s the way, as most people in the business already know, that’s how you get a job in audio.
Jimi: I started this, Herb, believe it or not, in the early 80s, 1983. And this was a spin-off. I was working as a disk-jockey at a very early age, and I was actually teaching for a nationally accredited broadcasting and music recording school. Basically it’s really what gave me the idea. I was helping students make their demos tapes. And I saw that there was just . . . the classroom concept for this kind of a career just really didn’t work because of the math. I mean, think about it. You’ve got a class of 40, 50 people, and they’re in one city, they graduate. Where do they go? And that’s really how I came up with the concept, because I got into radio by being in the door at a very early age. And my concept was, look, get in the door. That’s half the battle. And so it started in 1983.
Brian: The future with us is . . . I don’t know how to say this but the future with us is to make the best darn education for as little money as possible. We’re super serious about breaking each and every one of our students into this business by giving them amazing opportunities with the mentor, by giving them the very best curriculum on the market that we update every three to four months, by giving them tutoring, by giving them their own website, by giving them social media curriculum and job placement curriculum in addition to the curriculum that they’re studying in audio. We’re serious about helping people and we can change, frankly, I know it sounds a little weird, but we can change this world and the way people get educated through this model, the mentor-apprentice model.
Brian: Any parent of any one of our students or applicants is welcome to call either Jimi or myself. And we’ll spend as long as they want on the phone. We’ll talk to them about the reality of this business and the reality of schools and how our school is better.
Jimi: And another good point, Herb, on that is, remember, the parents, we welcome them to go to the interview at the studio. See remember, at first when people hear about this and they see a website and they go, “Oh, yeah, right. You’re going to get me into a real recording studio.” Remember, we do that before anything happens. In other words, no money is exchanged. We do that just on the word of the student being interested in the profession. So we actually encourage the parents to go to that local recording studio as well. So they’re going to sit down, and they’re going to talk one-on-one with that recording engineer, the chief engineer. Many of our mentors are the owners of the studio, if not the owner, the chief engineer.
And that’s what’s great and what I like about what we do, Herb, is that we can’t be a normal admissions department like a normal school. I mean, I’m not trying to cut down normal schools but the reality is, it is sales, it is school. With us, they’re going to go meet a real guy who’s made a living doing this and they’re going to give that parent and that student the reality. And even if that student and parent go, “You know, this isn’t for me,” no problem. They didn’t get in debt, they didn’t move on any further. But if it is for them, it’s a great opportunity. Their questions are asked. The parents can drive to the studio anytime to check up on their son. As Brian said, call us and check in as well.
Jimi: We’re so excited about Pensado’s Place. Obviously, Herb, you and Dave, we’re so grateful to be involved with you guys and have you guys believe in what we do and believe in the one-on-one approach and the mentor-apprentice style of training. What a lot of people . . . sometimes when they look at this, they think internship. And I want to stress this is not an internship. It’s an apprenticeship. Very different. You’re actually working one-on-one and getting hands-on training by a guy who, again, makes a living doing this and could hire you if he felt like it.
Brian: Very, very good point. This is not an internship. You’re not paying us to get coffee. You’re paying for the privilege of learning as an apprentice with a structured course curriculum, sitting in on real sessions, taking private tutoring, learning from someone has been doing this 20, 30 years. Think about all the tricks and tools you learn that aren’t in the curriculum.
Jimi: And that’s a good point that Brian’s bringing up, Herb, is that what I’ve discovered over the years in doing this is that people like to be mentors. I mean, it really amazed me when I first started doing this in radio and I had guys from ESPN radio wanting to be mentors. We’ve got Grammy award winning engineers that are mentors of ours. They don’t need to do this, but what we have found is, is there are people out there that love what they do enough and they want to pass the baton. And they see themselves in these candidates that are coming in. And that’s really the neat thing that we want to spread. And that’s really what we’re really best at, at is two things: curriculum and updating them. We hire the best people to constantly update our curriculums. Grammy award winning engineers, the real deal. That’s what’s nice about this, that and finding the right mentor for somebody. That’s the real key part of this.