“Whenever I take a break,” says Recording Connection graduate Sebastian Lefeld, “I’m always thinking there’s someone else out there who’s doing what I do who’s not taking a break, and I get back to work.”

It’s this very work ethic that not only helped Sebastian make the most of his Recording Connection externship, but also helped him land a full-time job in a busy Miami recording studio, working with names like Carlos Santana, Ricky Martin and Billboard chart-topper Shawn Mendes!

Sebastian had been looking for recording schools in the Orlando area. “I have a lot of friends that are in Full Sail,” he says. “And they got experience, but it was still in the classroom. So now, when they are starting to intern at studios and all that, they really don’t know the dynamics of the business side of the studio.”

So Sebastian decided to take an alternate path, and decided on the Recording Connection because of its focus on in-studio training and hands-on experience. He says his mentor, Dave Mikeal (StudioLive USA, Orlando), was great about showing him all aspects of the studio. “He helped me out not just with like the audio parts, but also with how to run a studio,” he says. “What it would take to pay the studio rent, how much energy a studio uses… It’s good to know everything, in case you want to build your own studio.”

Even so, Sebastian realized early on that the key to succeeding in his externship was to take the initiative wherever he could: “Even though you have a mentor, 90 percent of what you learn is up to you…Nobody is going to hand you anything,” he says.

That understanding served Sebastian well when he graduated the Recording Connection and decided to try his hand in the Miami music scene. Knowing his best bet for landing a great job was to get his foot in the door somewhere, he agreed to take an unpaid position (at first) helping out at a busy Miami recording studio, paying his bills by working at Pizza Hut on the side.

It was a gamble, but it didn’t take long for it to pay off. Within 2 months, Sebastian found himself assisting on a session with none other than Carlos Santana. Sebastian recalls it was difficult not to be starstruck: “I was like, ‘Oh, man! I’m in the same room with a guy that I have been listening to since I was born!’”

He says he must have done well with that session, because early the following week the studio owner called him into the office and offered him a full-time job at the studio! He walked out, went to Pizza Hut where he worked, and promptly resigned.

Today, thanks to his on-the-job training with Recording Connection, Sebastian is extremely busy doing what he loves, and continues to work with big-name artists that come into the studio, including Latin legend Ricky Martin and more recently, rising star Shawn Mendes, whose debut album hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in its first week! But with his successes, Sebastian still knows what got him where he is: determination, boldness, hard work and the ability to make connections. Even working with celebrities, it’s not all fun and games. He has this advice to others thinking to get into the industry.

“Get ready for long hours and a lot of days,” he says. “I’m here at least six days a week, sometimes seven, and it’s never less than 10-11 hours. But if you’re going to get into this industry, it’s because you love it.”

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