Successful Berklee Alumni #18: Jesse Reese

Jesse Reese

Jesse Reese 1

Listen to the interview (in two parts.  Total 55 minutes) or download part 1 and download part 2.

Graduated in 2008 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  guitar.

Position:  Senior Software Engineer at TVGla.  Jesse is a “full stack” developer, handling both “front end” (what the customer sees) and “back end” (the engine underneath) web programming.

Overview:  After graduation, Jesse did an unpaid internship with a label in Nashville where he tweaked and built websites.  He started picking up freelance jobs building websites, for fairly little money but he learned a lot.  He decided that he wanted to pursue a career in programmers.  Starting at the bottom (“Geek Squad”) computer repair, Jesse read many books to teach himself how to program.  Finally in 2012 he moved to L.A. for more opportunities and over the course of one year and a few jobs his annual salary went from the low 30s to the mid 90s!  Jesse career has continued to progress, with him not staying at any one place very long.  “With software engineering, 2 years is pretty much the max you’re in one place.  After that, stuff is built and you’re just spinning your wheels–there’s nothing else to learn.  If you don’t learn new stuff constantly, you get left behind.”

You can see Jesse’s LinkedIn Profile here.

Choice Quotes:  “It blew my mind how much software engineers are needed, and how easy it is to get a job, once you hit a certain level of experience.  There are a lot of opportunities, and recruiters contact you.  It’s like they’re a car salesperson and you’re the car.”

“Don’t get complacent–stay hungry and keep pushing!…I became senior-level through knowledge, not years.”

“Whatever it is you want to do–set your ego aside and go learn it and do it!  I decided that I’d do nothing that didn’t get me toward my ultimate career goal (being a software engineer)–I didn’t go work retail or whatever. ”


Jesse Reese 2

Most days Jesse still plays his guitar.  “Music is a passion of mine.  It’s therapeutic and fun, but I don’t have that drive to get a record deal.  That’s just not what I want.”


Jesse has zero regrets about his Berklee experience.  “Berklee’s music background taught me how to learn new things and think in abstract ways.  By doing music you learn more about how your mind works and get good at adapting to new situations and learning how to figure stuff out.   I was able to pick things up faster, which meant my career progression happened very quickly.  Had I studied computer science instead of music my career would be nowhere near where it is today.”












See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.