Successful Berklee Alumni #33: Andy Zhang

Andy Zhang


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr 19 min) or download it.

Graduated in 2006 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  bass.

Position:  Research Engineer for Linekong, a company that builds gaming apps.  Andy is a “full stack” programmer, dealing with all aspects of the software, and specializing on the chatbot function.  He also does math and algorithms, and on his own time meets weekly with others to explore deep learning by machines and artificial intelligence.


Overview:  Andy’s plan was to become an entertainment lawyer.  He finished Berklee in two years, spent two years travelling and temping, then went to law school.  Midway through law school he realized that he disliked the rigid culture and lack of creativity that being a lawyer entailed, nor did “prestige professions,” such as management consultant, have any appeal.  Andy finished his law degree, but decided to move home and figure out what sort of career really would make him happy.  Andy started going to meetups of people in tech startups, while using google to teach himself computer programming and building a dating app and volunteering with an angel investor.  He ended up going to Cincinnati to work at a high-tech “incubator” for his own company that was building a new dating app, but failed to attract additional investment and ran out of money.  Using the last bit of the money to move to San Francisco, Andy started a frenetic job search.  Six weeks later, he had a job “at the bottom of the totem pole” doing customer support, but his boss let him do his own programming projects as well.  After being there for half a year, Andy had learned all he had to know, and with minimal effort got his first job as a software engineer.  He has switched jobs since then, following his boss to different companies.


You can see Andy’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes: “I love the work-style and lifestyle of being in high tech.  The workplace is very informal, relaxed, and we have lots of freedom.  The lifestyle features decent hours, and I don’t take the stresses of work home unless I want to.   I also like that there’s as much intellectual challenge as I seek–there are always new things to learn and apply!”

“I always liked the ‘structured creativity’ of music.  Professional services such as being in law lose that, as they consider any deviation bad.  But high tech has it–deviation could be bad, but it also could be brilliant!”

“Interviews are tougher if you don’t have a Computer Science degree or a lot of experience–I was grilled hard.  So I spent a ton of time preparing for each interview.”

“While I could be anti-social, Berklee’s ensembles and group projects taught me how to get along and work with people of all different backgrounds and skill levels.  Not working well with people is a common impediment for engineers, but thanks to Berklee it’s not one I suffer from.”



See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.


IMG_0807Andy hiking in the Bay Area.  “Explore!  Be willing to do things you might not expect to like.  Some of my path was based on necessity (such as running out of money)  and I’d say not to be afraid of that.  You learn very little from just doing the same old grind.”




Andy says to those whose music careers may not be what they wish them to be, “Avoid the sunk cost fallacy. Detach and look at what you want to do with your life and forget about what you’ve done before!  If it makes sense to do music now, do it, but if not it’s totally fine–don’t feel obligated to stay in music.   I went to law school, only to discover that being a lawyer felt to me like rubber-stamping with a fancy degree–nothing intellectual or creative–so I turned away from it and learned to do something I would enjoy.”