Successful Berklee Alumni #15: Chelsea McKinney

Chelsea McKinney

Work at Aventura

Listen to the interview (around 40 minutes) or download it.

Graduated in 2013 with a major in Music Production and Engineering (MP&E).  Principal instrument:  Piano.

Position:  Floor manager at Aventura, a 250-seat tapas restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Overview:  Chelsea got her first restaurant job during her first year at Berklee.  She initially bused tables, then was promoted to host and then server.  She worked a combination of host and server jobs in Boston, ultimately at Uni (at the time a paired restaurant “Cleo and Uni”) before moving to Ann Arbor to be with her boyfriend a year after graduation.  One month of job-hunting later, they went out to a nice restaurant on a “date.”  Chelsea asked if they had any jobs, and offered herself as a manager.  They recommended her to interview with Aventura, their sister-restaurant.

You can see her LinkedIn Profile here.

Choice Quotes:  “I figured out that what I wanted to do was not so much a thing but a skill set:  working with people.  I found a job where I get to do what I wanted to do.”

“I asked my previous managers to look over my resume before I left Boston. They are older than me and have more experience and know things I don’t.  One of them said, ‘Don’t put ‘host’.  Just put ‘functional floor manager.”  That was a key thing that led to me getting this job.”

“Producing prepared me for restaurant management.  I had to be in charge:.  I learned how to figure out logistics, work with people, communicate our visions to each other, get it all right, deal with unexpected ugly surprises, and get emotional artists to put their issues aside and focus on their work.”


Blackbird Studios NashvilleChelsea as a Berklee student at a famous studio in Nashville.  “I really liked the Production side of MP&E.”







Aventura Team

Chelsea (third from left) with her team at Aventura.  She had never before worked as a manager.  “I had to go into the job interview knowing what my strengths were, and knowing I could do the job.”
Pastry Chef for a day






Chelsea doesn’t normally work in the kitchen, but she did this time.  “I appreciate a chef’s dedication.  Every dish is edible art.”






The Big House Michigan



Chelsea with her boyfriend, a medical resident (doctor).  She moved to Ann Arbor to be with him when he was posted there.  Chelsea herself recently got into business school and will be taking classes starting in May, 2016 while continuing to work full-time.


“Even if you don’t have a clear idea what you want to do, take it one day at a time.  Just don’t stand still–keep going!”






See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.