This isn’t your average internship. Instead, the Beats Academy is debunking the traditional model for current college students.

The organization, which is an extension of the famous Beats by Dre audio platform, has a goal to create “an outlet for aspiring creators to have a place to flex their creative superpowers,” per its website.

Beats is fulfilling this by working with Los Angeles, CA-based college students as they begin to launch their budding careers within the world of media.

One solution that the Beats Academy is solving is dismantling the idea that a career in the industry has to be carved by a particularly narrow path.

“It exposes them to different career paths that align with the skill sets that they already have that they may not even realize,” Alexis Johnson, Beats Head of Social Impact, told AFROTECH. “It’s a hands-on experience for them, one they can’t get from a textbook or reading a case study or something like that. It also allows them to build relationships. I think that’s another kind of barrier to entry within the industry. It’s not what you know, but who you know. We hear that phrase, but it shows students how to actively build relationships through the program in working with the staff here.”

She continued: “I think that’s kind of a roundabout way of what it solves… contextualizing a line of work for students in a way that a textbook can’t.”

As a brand, Beats has always maintained its vision of making audio accessible for all. Now, with this program created solely for college students, the company is continuing to be a place where everyone is welcomed.

“For this program, what makes it different, in terms of leveling that out, is it is inclusive in every element that you can think of because all students are eligible to participate, regardless of race, gender, and socioeconomic background, and it makes sense that we would be doing this now because, as a brand, we always have been about making audio and music accessible to people,” Johnson continued.

What’s more, she recognizes the growth of the company through initiatives like the aforementioned Beats Academy.

“This program is a reflection of the work that we’ve always been doing in making products in music and promoting creative expression, like giving that to the masses and making everyone feel like they belong,” Johnson said. “It’s equitable in the fact that everyone can participate. You know, regardless of what area you’re in within your college experience, because I know that was always a thing too, at least from my own experience of wanting to get an internship, but it’s almost like you needed experience to get experience.”

She continued, “Hopefully, we’ll set a standard for how other programs should run. We also wanted to make sure that all students can be part of this, right? So when you think about in a traditional sense of, you know, these kinds of skill-based programs, they usually are geared toward four-year students, but in this case, we wanted to make sure that two-year students could be part of it.”

Also, in a society where the norm once was far from paying students for internships, the Beats Academy program motto is that those days should be long gone.

“We’re so past that kind of free labor for experiences,” Johnson said. “We don’t believe in that at all. We want to compensate our students for their contributions. We’re providing them with compensation and being able to allow them to showcase their talents on this global platform.”

By the end of their recent sessions with the Beats Academy, students walked away with the experience of building campaigns alongside student-athletes including Kiki Rice from the University of California – Los Angeles and Isaiah Collier from the University of Southern California. In addition to that, they also received the opportunity to make lifelong connections with their peers, which Beats strives to offer.

“From a very technical perspective, students walk away with having strengthened their skills in areas like production, editing, you know, like the very mechanics of creating content,” Johnson explained. “But I think that for me, and the brand, we know that this program is successful when students are walking away, and going into their professional journeys, and navigating adulthood with confidence in how they network, how they present their ideas and their work, and really how they’re marketing themselves. And we want them to know that they belong in this space. I think how we know that we’ve won is when a student can confidently go out and say that they know that they belong.”

In terms of the future, the Beats Academy program is well on its way to shifting the internship model by inspiring one creative student at a time.