Successful Berklee Alumni #44: Max Pohl

Max Pohl


Listen to the Interview (approx. 1 hr, 9 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2013 with a degree in Music Business.  Principal Instrument: (acoustic) guitar.


Position:  Product Manager (“Specialist”) at Wayfair, a large Boston-based online retailer of furniture and home goods.  Working on a team that develops and refines interally-used software and using “agile” methods of 2-week development cycles, Max meets with others in the company to assess desired improvements to the software, writes specifications, does mock-ups, analyzes data, and tests the results.

Overview:  Max spent much of his last year at Berklee looking for a music-industry job without success.  As graduation approached, a non-Berklee friend who had worked at a Business consulting and software company Eze suggested that Max apply.  Very much wanting to have a job, and also wanting to stay in Boston if possible, Max applied and got a well-paying job doing customer support and software installations.

One year later, Max searched for a new job, he liked the technology, but not the business consulting, and he sensed that his company wanted to promote him to a business consultant and move him out of Boston.  A friend at a ClearCompany, a small (at the time) software-startup, helped get him a job where he wore many hats, including sales and customer service.  Max realized that, while he had though he wanted to interact with customers, he really wanted to work more with technology.  He interviewed for several positions at Wayfair, but was told that they were all too junior-level for him and they’d get in touch if they had a more appropriate opening.  Months later, they did!  He interviewed and got his current job.


You can see Max’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “Creative types will appreciate this:  at my job I can conceptualize something, design it, go through the process of building it, and see it being used.  I never anticipated that this job would have  such a large creative aspect, but I really enjoy it.  I also like the social element, being in contact with so many accomplished people, which has helped me grow professionally.  The tech side of it also is really interesting.”

“One great thing about working at a small startup, my previous job, is you’re forced to wear a bunch of hats, which exposes you to, and makes you skilled in, many areas.”

“At Berklee you have to perform in front of others and get judged/graded on it.  That’s stressful and hard, but it helps prepare you to perform in front of others.  It taught me how important it is to prepare and try to be perfect.  This applies just as much to performances in the workplace:    a job interview, a presentation.”



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Successful Berklee Alumni #43: Alexia Layne-Lomon

Alexia Layne-Lomon


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr 15 min.) or download it.

Left Berklee in 2013 (She finished up one last class and officially graduated in 2014.) with a degree in Professional Music.  Principal Instrument:  Voice.

Position:  Grants Manager at Action for Boston Community Development (“ABCD”) a large human-services non-profit organization.  Alexia applies for outside grants to fund 76 distinct programs designed to alleviate poverty in the Boston area.  She also supervises and edits the work of two other grant writers, and oversees ABCD’s direct-mail fundraising operation.

Overview:  Alexia started Berklee in 2000, but left after two years.  Having grown up low-income and strongly believing in social justice, Alexia wanted to do community organizing professionally.  For years, she worked at various administrative jobs in the non-profit section, while going to Berklee on and off.  Though she kept wanting to do what she was doing, Alexia realized that she needed a Bachelors Degree in order to advance her career, and that the easiest way to get that was to finish at Berklee.

By 2012 Alexia was both doing the books and fund raising for Community Change, a small anti-racism organization, where she could work part time while finishing her degree.   While finishing up, she started an 18-month job search for appropriate jobs in the non-profit sector in Boston looking for a larger organization where there was more hope for advancement.  She got the job offer at ABCD in the spring of 2014 while still one class shy of her degree.  Although the positions required a Bachelors Degree, ABCD gave her the leeway to finish up that semester while she worked.


You can see Alexia’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice quotes:  “A funding relationship is like getting to know someone.  Don’t propose on the first night you meet.  Talk to them, find out what each of you wants out of life, then maybe someday it matches up to a commitment.  Getting a grant is as much about the relationship building and the credibility of the organization and you as a professional as it is about the words on the paper.”

“Many people hate fundraising, even some who do it professionally, but I like it!  If you enjoy raising money, there are lots of opportunities.”

Berklee taught me that creatives move in the world a bit differently than others who don’t have that in them.  We examine problems differently and enter into conversations differently.  Berklee helped my creative side flourish.  That changed who I am for the better.”


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Successful Berklee Alumni #42: Shawn Young-Eagle

Shawn Young-Eagle


Listen to the interview (approx. 42 min.) or download it.

Graduated in 2013 with a degree in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  guitar.

Position:  Regional Sales Director at Columbia Threadneedle Investments.  Based in their Boston headquarters, Shawn works with a field partner in Arizona & New Mexico to sell financial products to financial advisers and investment managers.  Shawn is one of fifty people doing this job at this 2500-person company that handles roughly $500 billion of assets.

UPDATE August 2019:  In the spring of 2019 Shawn got a job with Ameriprise Financial Services as a personal financial adviser.

Overview:  Graduating shortly after the Boston Marathon terror-bombing, Shawn thought hard about what he wanted to do with his life, and realized that he wanted to go into finance rather than music.  He declined a job offer from a music firm he’d interned at, and started an aggressive job search.  Two months later he got a job at Fidelity, where he would work while passing his Series 7 and other financial exams.  Shawn started in customer service, then after 5 months was promoted into to financial product sales to individual investors.  After a bit over a year, Shawn wanted to do business-to-business (“B to B”) sales, as that is higher status and pay, but Fidelity didn’t do that in Boston, so Shawn contacted a former coworker who worked at Columbia Threadneedle who put in the good word and after several interviews Shawn got his current job.  He’s recently was put in their “top-gun” program, where he’s training to be in the field.

You can see Shawn’s LinkedIn profile here.  Shawn encourages Berklee students and alumni interested in working in finance to connect with him.

Choice quotes:  “My job is a marriage of personality skills and analytical skills…Every day is an opportunity to learn something new…I love that my work is fast paced, you talk to people, and you get paid for what you do.  It also helps to have good, fun colleagues; most are around my age (mid 20s).”

“I love music, but I didn’t envision anyone paying huge money to see me play.  The business community would give me more opportunity to be a leader, and I like business–it’s in my blood.  .”

“When I graduated, it was a full-time job looking for a job.  Six to eight hours each day game planning, polishing the resume & cover letters for different roles, getting myself out there.  It took about 2 months to get that call from Fidelity.”

What Berklee did the most for my future was surround me with all that creativity and back-and-forth with critical feedback.  I learned to “take it on the chin,” and built that into my professional style.  I seek out feedback on ways I can improve.  It always helps to get different perspectives and I learn a lot.”

“Music is still my lynch pin and my fire.  I play at least an hour per day, jam with friends, keep my eye on the music industry, and discover new songs.  My trained ears will always be with me.”

“Berklee folks figuring out what you want to do, don’t be afraid to fail.  Use the Berklee Alumni Network! Read read read about the industry you’re curious about.  Learn as much as you can before you start interviewing.  Whatever you want to do, HUSTLE!”

See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Successful Berklee Alumni #41: Christmas Eger

Christmas Eger


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


Graduated in 2007 with a degree in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  flute.

Position:  Midwest Regional Employee Relations Generalist (Human Resources) at H&M.  Christmas’s region covers 130 stores and thousands of employees.  She processes unemployment claims, terminations, benefits questions, and gathers information for litigations.  She also tried to mediate disputes and takes calls from employees who are in crisis.  Additionally, Christmas travels the region to teach workshops to H&M store managers.


Overview:  Christmas started working part-time at H&M as a retail clerk while a Berklee student.  After graduation, she moved to New Jersey and was able to transfer to another store.  She had opportunities for jobs in other cities and to manage tours, but felt that those were too uncertain and she liked the steady income, so she went full-time and H&M.  6 months later, she was promoted to dept. managers, which doubled her pay.

Christmas spent 6 years as a dept. manager, moving several times, H&M letting her transfer to a new store each time.  After ending up in Chicago, she got to fill in temporarily as a recruiter, which she enjoyed.  Soon after, a permanent recruiter positions opened up, which she took.  After close to a year, the person doing her current job, who was aware of her extensive volunteer work with Hope for the Day, encouraged her to apply for that job which he would be leaving.  One highly competitive process and seven interviews (!) later, Christmas got the job!


You can see Christmas’s LinkedIn Profile here.  She also invites anyone eager to discuss jobs in HR, or at H&M, to contact her directly at christmas [dot] eger [at] gmail [dot] com


Choice Quotes:  “When an employee needs to vent and feels that something is unfair, I let them talk.  If they’re in crisis I encourage them to seek out resources and get help.  People don’t call me about happy things; I’m their last resort before they leave or are fired, and I’m their last shot at them being happy with their job here.”

“I got my current job thanks to my volunteer work with Hope for the Day which works with at-risk youth & self-harmers.  I can keep a calm demeanor and coach pepole through a crisis.  It also helped me because I am aware of the enormous impact, for good or bad, that a single conversation can have one someone’s life.

“I’m one of four regional human relations generalists working for H&M in the United States.  All four of us started lower down in the company and worked our way up.”

“If you want to work in HR, be sure to find a company you care about.  I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t believe in my company and what it stands for.”



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