Successful Berklee Alumni #63: Will Cady

Will Cady

Listen to the interview (approx. 51 minutes) or download it.


Graduated in 2009 with a degree in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  bass guitar.

UPDATE October, 2018:  Will was recently promoted to Head of Brand Strategy!

UPDATE February, 2019:  A newer interview of Will (done by someone else) has been featured by Berklee.

Position: Account Executive (Sales) at Reddit.  Will works in their small L.A. office, seeking business for Reddit among the entertainment industry.   “It’s advertising, but it’s also about partnerships with show runners/directors about  collaboratively develop intellectual property by using Reddit to find good people and promote events.”

Overview:  Shortly after graduation, when it was clear that his band wasn’t going to make it big, Will looked on BerkleeMusic’s job board for a position.  He applied and found at job as “product line manager” at Source Audio which makes effects pedals.  He helped with product development, marketing, and demonstrating the products, but after a couple of years he felt that opportunity was limited in this niche market.  Friends convinced him to move to LA and recommended him for a job at Spin Media, where for several more years he worked for Spin Media, receiving multiple promotions from Account Coordinator (filling in spreadsheets) to  Acct Manager (designing spreadsheets) –> Integrated Marketing Manager (getting brands to participate in their space/events) –> Acct executive (sales), but the company was doing poorly “I felt like a farmer in a drought,” and he left, planning to start his own creative business.

Before the business got underway, however, a former colleague from Spin recomended him for the job at Reddit.  Will put his own plans to the side and took the job, “I was able to take all the thinking I was going to apply for my startup and apply it to this already-huge business.”


You can see Will’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “The bulk of the work comes in establishing a relationship, which can take up to six months.  Once that relationship is in place, you work on both the deals already closed and opening up new opportunities.  It’s both inbound and outbound, and the whole machine is just humming and rolling.”

I’m very much in a flow state where my creativity is being challenged.  It’s thrilling every day to come up with the best, most articulate, creative, presentable version of myself.  I didn’t anticipate doing this at all, but it feels like a flowering of the work I did at Berklee training myself as a musician.”

“Music is just a fundamental version of pattern recognition and manipulation, and that applies to all other ideas and identities.  Few folks have training in creating new ideas and that training has made a world of difference in my career…I went from being a musician to being a creative–not just thinking about what stages  I want to be on, I’m building those stages!”

“I have about a dozen work-streams in any given moment.  How often am I working?  I’m always on!  Even when I’m socializing it’s in a grey area between play and work.”

“The most successful folks I’ve seen are the ones who care the most about cultivating good relationships with the people around them.  Friendship is a combination of passion and purpose, and when you have both folks will want to be around you and you’ll be successful.”

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Successful Berklee Alumni #62: Jonathan Schwarz

Jonathan Schwarz

Listen to the interview (approx. 33 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2011 with a major in Contemporary Writing & Production (CWP).  Principal instrument:  trombone.


Position:  Front End Web Developer at, an online retailer of discount travel and travel-related packages (airfare, hotels, etc.).  Jonathan is on a team of developers, working with the Agile-based system of two week “sprints” to build and refine their websites.


Overview:   During his last year, Jonathan figured a cool profession would be build a company that would enable distance-learning of music lessons.  To get the technical skills necessary, Jonathan went immediately from Berklee to getting a Masters in Music Technology from NYU.  Graduating in 2013, Jonathan worked full time at his dream startup, Jukubox, which he and some Berklee friends co-founded, living at home and making very little money in the hope it would grow rapidly.  Six months later, the hoped-for growth wasn’t happening, but his alma mater (NYU’s music school), knowing he had a good camera and experience with videos, hired him as a video person.  He did that while doing freelance film composition and DJ jobs on the side, making OK money and working extremely-long hours–essentially two full-time jobs!

After a year, Jonathan started to grow weary of that lifestyle.  He learned about coding “boot camps” where in only three months you could get the skills to get a well-paying job.  He went to one offered by Fullstack Academy,   Finishing in mid-2016 and looking for a job, Jonathan reached out to a Fullstack Academy grad who was working at  That person was impressed, and put in the good word, which ultimately led to Jonathan getting his current job six weeks later.


You can see Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I’ve always enjoyed being in creative projects, and puzzles.  Coding is like a puzzle that has a really creative solution.  I like building cool things and working with great epople who are supportive and help me learn more and be a better developer every day.”

You need to figure out creative strategies for getting your foot in the door wherever you want to be.  Be persistent.  Reach out to people–use your connections and make new connections.

Prior to Berklee I’d been kind of shy and was just passively following the academic path and getting good grades, but not thinking about more than that. Berklee gave me a strong entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging me to go out and get what I wanted.”

“I got to have these really cool experiences in music that I got to cherish and relive and tell my grandkids about one day. I love the shows I played, the parties I DJ’d, the film music I composed. I also love what I do now, but I’m glad I got to pursue my music passion for a while.  No regrets.”



See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Presentation #2: Music Business Grads: What Berklee Did Well & Advice

In February 2017 I gave a presentation, primarily to Music Business students, about what Berklee is doing well to prepare folks for careers outside of music, as well as advice which these folks have for current students.  It features many direct quotes from folks interviewed, as well as differences between MB grads and non-MB grads.  It’s also pretty self-guided, so you’ll definitely get 90+% of the information through the slides alone

Download the Presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – Jan. 2017 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 63, except for #7.

Presentation #1: What Berklee Is Doing Well to Prepare Folks for Non-Music Careers…and Where Berklee Came Up Short.

In January 2017 I gave a presentation, primarily to fellow faculty, about what Berklee is and is not doing well to prepare folks for careers outside of music.  It features many direct quotes from folks interviewed.  It’s also pretty self-guided, so you’ll definitely get 90+% of the information through the slides alone.

Download the Presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – 2016 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 58, except for #7.



Successful Berklee Alumni #61: Tom Boates

Tom Boates


Listen to the interview (approx 1 hr, 17 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2006 with a degree in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  trombone.


Position:  Product Design Consultant.  Thomas works independently designing “anything involving a screen” from websites, to apps to displays on sports equipment.  This includes limited coding, as well as working with others, and his own customer-research app Brilliant.

Overview:  While at Berklee, a person from Nimbit spoke at one of of Tom’s classes.  Tom enquired about opportunities, which led to a part-time graphic design internship after graduation, which in turn led to a full-time job offer.  A bit over a year later there were layoffs and Tom resigned, hoping to start his own company, but didn’t feel ready, so took an offer from a former boss to had moved on to another  company, first as a contractor, then a salaried employee, but the company closed when the economy tanked in late 2008.  1-2 months later, Tom was contacted by the CEO of Runkeeper, then a small start-up, as the CEO had heard good things about Tom’s work from several different people in a week.

Tom was with Runkeeper for almost six years, The Runkeeper job started part-time, and Tom worked elsewhere too, but as the company grew the job became full time as lead designer, then later as manager of the design department.   Eventually he felt as though he wasn’t doing what he wanted to do, so he resigned, and days later a contact offered him a contract position.  Tom figured he’d hate working as a independent consultant/contractor and that it was just a temporary way to make money, but discovered that he loved it, and has been happily and prosperously doing this for the past two years-and-counting.


You can see Tom’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “Product design is a science, not an art.  It’s not a personal extension of your inner vision:  if the person you are working for doesn’t like it, you create something else.”

“Contracting isn’t for everybody.  You’re basically just there to do the work, and it’s always the other person’s call.  It’s hard to emotionally invest when you don’t have a say.  And of course the work comes in waves, there’s the occasional dry month (Plan on only spending half your income!), and nobody pays you to go on vacation. But if you’re OK with that then the money is great.”

I never really had to apply for a job.  The lesson for me was do good work, work your butt off, show integrity, be a good person, and the rest will follow.”


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Successful Berklee Alumni #60: Debra Gail White

Debra Gail White


Listen to the interview (approx. 54 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2007 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  piano.


Position:  Technical Principal Consultant.  Self-employed, Debra works as the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at high-tech start-ups.  Helping them build their team, clarify their product, and raise investment money.  She’s paid in a combination of money and equity (but more money than regular employees at start ups).

Overview:  Graduating Berklee already with some music industry experience under her belt (She’d spent a year working before finishing her last classes), and possessing both technical skills and business ambitions, Debra spent a couple of years working at advertising agencies, handling the music end of their websites and projects.  Getting more and more into tech, by late 2008 she was moving away from music into tech, being the “new media girl” at place that made online videos, then working as a technical contractor.  By 2010 she had moved to New York, then her positive experiences at Burning Man made her move to San Francisco “to where the people who put on that great party are.”

Quickly she found tech jobs.  When her job with Viggle, managing their back-end system, and worked there until it relocated to New York in 2013..  Tired of corporate culture and wanting more freedom, Debra elected to be an independent consultant in 2013, which she has been enjoying since.


You can see Debra’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I like the control of being a consultant and have transparency and say/do what I want and that being of value to the company. No politics or bureaucracy–if you don’t like my work you can get rid of me the next day  no problem.  So we focus on getting things done efficiently and it lets me be more myself.”

“As an independent consultant, I do get equity, but I get paid a lot more than a regular employee.”  “I learned that at Berklee:  money now or money later?  Money now!”

It’s a lot of work and nothing is harder than finals week!  “You can’t cram for a recital.”  Berklee was excellent training for self-discipline.


See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.


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