Stakhanov is a podcast production company we’ve had the pleasure of dealing with regularly since Pod Bible began. One of our regular contacts over the past few months has been Blandine Hoge, a Production Assistant who is coming to the end of her internship with Stakhanov before heading to university. In today’s blog post Blandine offers her reflections on her time working with the prolific pod producers.
It was the 25th of November of last year. I was sitting in a Cafe Nero in Edinburgh, it was a Sunday and I was barely halfway through a 2000 word essay on the Faerie Queene due at noon the next day. Needless to say I was procrastinating. Big time. When I decided to contact Stakhanov that day, it was a complete shot in the dark. I’d heard of them through YouTuber Jaackmaate’s podcast, Jaackmaate’s Happy Hour, which is produced and recorded by Stakhanov. Stakhanov is a podcast production company based in London, it works with such notable shows as Football Ramble Daily, Berkhamsted Revisited and The Offensive. At the time, when I sent that email, I was certain I would not hear back. Mainly because I’d mentioned in the email that I was a fan of Jack’s show, which made me certain that they’d think I was a crazy stalker and send my email straight to trash. And yet—in early December—I was both surprised and overjoyed to see that not only did they email me back, but they also wanted me to come in for two weeks in July. By June, two weeks became seven and I was very excited to get started.
Since I’d never had a job before I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure what work they’d want me to do, how strict the hours would be (I’m a chronic oversleeper), what I was and wasn’t allowed to wear (this was very important to me as a borderline goth), etc. Meeting Jon and Luke (two of the three owners of Stakhanov) for the first time was extremely nerve-wracking. Luckily for me they turned out to be very nice and extremely laid back people. During that initial meeting, they talked me through what they expected from me and showed me around the Stakhanov studio. The studio itself is absolutely beautiful, I was very impressed by it. I‘d seen parts of it before in Happy Hour’s YouTube clips and the specs were remarkable—especially compared to my station’s tech back in St. Andrews. Jon and Luke were very receptive to even my silliest questions and insisted that they wanted this experience to be as valuable as possible for me.
Over the course of my seven weeks, I ended up working on quite a variety of projects—both small and big. On my first day, Jon asked me to find out more about football commentary audio rights and whether a purchasable license for those rights even existed.
The next day, I remember sitting in Starbucks, researching audio rights on my laptop, frantically texting my Dad about how I was totally out of my depth. I felt like I was going in the completely wrong direction, certain I’d turn up the next day and be forced to waffle my way through my presentation. Luckily enough it turns out I was on the right track and just panicking for no reason at all, as per usual. Crisis averted. While it was quite nerve wracking, this first project did teach me that I had to be more confident in my abilities and leave my self-doubt in the dust.
During my second week at Stakhanov, I had the opportunity to follow Jon and Pete (the third owner of Stakhanov) to several meetings. I was a bit nervous and ended up arriving at the meeting spot about half an hour early. In the morning, we had three meetings one after the other with various agents. I acted as a fly on the wall, sitting and listening to the creative process unfurl. I really enjoyed watching the discussion, following the ideas being thrown back and forth. The opportunities presented to Stakhanov were inspiring, and I loved listening to the podcast ideas, the potential collaborations with important names in all sorts of spheres. Later that afternoon, Jon took me with him to meet Stakhanov’s PR agent. It was equally as interesting to sit in on this meeting, as the majority of my PR knowledge comes primarily from Agatha Raisin. We met the agent in an uber trendy hotel cafe, she had a messy bun and looked effortlessly cool. On first impression, very Agatha Raisin after all. But once the meeting began, I started to realise that I had no idea what moves a company needs to consider to both build their brand and keep their image pristine. I enjoyed following the conversation, chipping in sometimes when I felt like my input would be semi-valuable. This day of meetings made me realise that, as dumb as this is going to sound, there is a lot more to a company than I anticipated. Wild.
During my internship, I got to do a lot of very interesting and creative projects. My favorites were working on podcast pitches for two of the companies that we spoke to during the aforementioned meetings, which was very cool indeed. I really had a lot of fun coming up with those ideas and I hope they end up getting made, we’ll see if the companies like them . I also was in charge of coming up with several concepts for lifestyle, fashion and pop culture podcasts. I loved having the opportunity to do creative work and I really appreciate the trust that Jon put in my opinion. Hopefully that wasn’t a mistake on his part!
Before I leave you, dearest reader, I find myself compelled to reflect on what I’ve learned throughout this experience. Because that’s what one does when one writes about an experience. One has to reflect. So this is for your benefit, by the way. You’re welcome. Let’s get into it then, shall we?
The first lesson I’ve learned—and please don’t cringe too hard—is you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Yikes, I know, but there’s a reason why people say it. I’ve always been quite shy and as a result, I felt extremely uncomfortable reaching out to people or companies via email. I’m not sure why it stressed me out so much, but at the end of the day taking a chance will always pay off. The worst you’ll suffer is a “no” and, here’s a life hack, you’ll more likely just never hear back, so no actual straight up rejection! If you’re a student and you’re trying to figure out how to find internships, your best bet is to just fire out your CV to as many people as possible—even if you think they’ll never get back to you. Remember, it only takes one yes in a sea of no.
The second lesson I’d like to impart to you is the importance of creative writing and good writing skills. I did not expect just how useful my writing skills would be and writing actually became my main work while I was at Stakhanov. I was in charge of providing feedback on all written copy, from podcast synopses to tweets. I also started to write the monthly Football Ramble Daily Patreon blog post, which I will continue doing at university. Writing is very easy to learn, all it takes is a basic understanding of grammar and practice. Seriously. Like playing an instrument or running a 5K (which I will never do), it takes practice to hone and improve your writing skills. There are also a lot of writing courses and classes available online, which in my opinion is the best way to improve as the hardest part of writing is motivating yourself to write for the sake of writing. My mom has been telling me for years that I need to focus on my writing, and yeah. As much as I hate to admit it, mother knows best time and time again.
On a more serious note, my overall experience interning for Stakhanov was immensely positive. I’m very happy that I took a shot in the dark and sent that email all the way back in November. I guess it all worked out in the end! As I’m writing this, it’s the final days of my seven weeks with Stakhanov. It’s all gone by so fast, I still can’t believe it’s coming to an end. I never really felt like an ‘intern’ when I was at Stakhanov, which I think is really worth noting. Obviously, my workload was very different from my colleagues, but I felt like a part of the company and not somebody whose sole purpose—without trying to be too cliche—was to do the work no one liked or always get coffee for everyone. Instead I felt like my input was both valued and heard. Interning with Stakhanov helped me gain a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities, it was an absolutely invaluable experience. While I am looking forward to going back to university, I am sad that it’s already ending. This year will be my last at university and while I don’t know where life will take me, I know that these skills and lessons I’ve learned during my time here will follow me for years to come. There are very exciting opportunities in the future—for both me and for Stakhanov, so stay tuned.