Successful Berklee Alumni #76: Patrick Brusil

Patrick Brusil

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


Left Berklee in 2007 (Patrick finished his one remaining class and officially graduated in 2012.) with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  cello.


Position:  Lead Buyers Agent at Keller Williams Realty, Boston Metro office.  Patrick helps prospective buyers of residential real estate, both home-buyers and investors, find and negotiate purchases of property which meets their needs.  He also helps train and support several less-experienced buyers agents on his team.


Overview:  Patrick was in a band at Berklee.  During his last semester (spring 07), several friends said they thought he’d be good at real estate, so he got his real estate license that summer.  For the next 6 months he focused on his band and worked odd jobs while living at home, until his parents insisted he get a “real” job.  He got a job as an agent at Nextgen Realty in Alston, renting out apartments.  While it was a high-turnover job, Patrick did well, ultimately staying over 6  years, the last 2.5 of which he also managed the office.   Meanwhile, as he started doing well with apartment rentals (earning around $45,000 that first year and getting his own apartment), music became less of a priority–he’d miss band practices when he has real estate showings.  Ultimately, Patrick decided to stay in Boston when his band moved to L.A.

After 6 years at NextGen, Patrick wanted to take the next step of working with buyers. He spent a couple of years teaching himself everything he could, “I’d seek out blogs, webinars, etc.  I’d get into work at 6 AM and would spend three hours just reading and learning.  Then in the evening I’d look at the listings to see what sold for what and figure out the Boston market.”   However, he lacked experience and expertise in that area.  A friend convinced him to work at Keller Williams Realty, where starting in the summer of 2014 he received more training and, with the reputation and support of a large agency, successfully launched his career as a buyer’s agent.


You can see Patrick’s LinkedIn page here.


Choice Quotes:   “There’s no ‘secret sauce’  I just care.  I’m here to help someone and educate them to make the right decision for them. Often that decision isn’t to buy a house right away.  It’s not about the money; it’s about helping people and adding value to their lives.  If I do that, the money will come.   I don’t want to fell bad about what I did for a client.  Plus I want my former clients to be raging fans (of working with me). ”

“In the music world, and just about every industry, you have to be an entrepreneur and a marketer–arguably a marketer first.   So accept that and take on that spirit–brush up on your business skills and how to approach people.”

“Since I started in this business I’ve been very heavy on social media, and everyone knows I’m a real estate agent.  Just about all my business comes from people I know and referrals, though I also go to open houses and meet people.”

I love being my own boss, and having the freedom to work when I want.  It’s gratifying to carve out a career where I feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives.  Buying a home is a huge deal and often very emotional, and helping folks through that process is really great.


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Successful Berklee Alumni #75: Eric DeVaughn

Eric Devaughn

Listen to the interview (approx. 48 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2011 with a degree in Performance.  Principal instrument: drums.


Position:  Associate Teacher (Mathematics, grades 9 – 12) at LEAD Public Schools in Nashville, TN.  For this one year Eric teaches full-time while being mentored and taking classes, then at the end of the academic year he receives his teaching certification.  As of this interview (April 2017), he has been hired by the same school he has been working in to be a regular full-time math teacher starting in September.


Overview:  After graduation, Eric and his now-wife (also a Berklee grad) worked together as musicians on cruise ships for two years, but eventually it got old and they decided to do something else.   They fell in love with Nashville and decided to move there, Eric taking a job at guitar center to make ends meet in addition to regular gigging.  Later, he got a job processing payments, then selling small boats, as the money was a bit better than guitar center, while continuing to gig and teach some music lessons, including to disadvantaged students at the W.O. Smith School.  But after around two and a half years in Nashville Eric realizes that his heart wasn’t really in having a music career.  “The people who were doing it were making sacrifices I didn’t want to make.”

Feeling strongly about social justice, Eric looked for jobs in human services non-profits, then his wife discovered this brand new National Teacher Residency program in which he would get his certification while working.  Having enjoyed working with disadvantaged students, Eric thought that teaching would be a great career–and being able to earn rather than spend money in that first year made this program particularly attractive.   There was an extensive screening process, but the person who was starting the program was from Boston and familiar with Berklee, and figured Eric would succeed.  He actually entered the program as an English teacher, but switched over to math, as he found he had more passion for the subject (plus the better job security and lighter grading load don’t hurt either.)  Eric has been successful in his program and received the hoped-for job offer from his school just a few weeks before the interview.


(Eric does not have a LinkedIn profile.)


Choice Quotes:  “The program I’m in is a response to the old path of people who want to teach taking lots of classes but not getting  much classroom experience which leads to a rough year for everyone.  Since I’ll be working at the same school next year I’ve already built relationships with the students, which is really helpful.”

“It’s a lot of work.  Between classes I teach, outside-the-classroom duties, and the classes I’m taking, it’s not uncommon for me to pull 60-70 hour weeks  But it’s turning out well.”

“For a long time I was intimidated by the thought of not being a musician.  I’d been a performance major!  As I got older, I realized there was more to life than that.  I asked if music was a vehicle to what I wanted in life.”  Don’t be afraid to ask those questions and answer honestly.


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Successful Berklee Alumni #74: Bob DeVaughn

Bob Devaughn

Listen to the interview (approx. 40 min.) or download it.


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


Position:  Full Stack Software Developer at Legendary Entertainment.  Bob works for a “business within a business” working for a branch of the major move studio that does data storage and implements data analysis tools for businesses, movie studios, sports, etc.  Bob takes on the role of system administrator, configuring their systems property, but he also writes computer code and supports the analysts.


Overview:  Prior to Berklee, Bob went to a magnet high school for computer science, and briefly studied computer science at the University of Maryland before transferring to Berklee.  Bob’s required internship was with Sonicbids, and they wanted him to help with the technical side.  As his internship ended and he graduated Sonicbids offered him a job doing software QA (Quality Assurance), where he worked for two years before moving back to Maryland to get married.  In Maryland, he co-founded a company to build websites for businesses, though he found the work a bit repetitive, so after a year he took a job with another startup as a product manager, then in mid-2013 as a project manager at a mid-size marketing agency after that startup failed.

In early 2014, Bob’s former boss from Sonicbids, now at Legendary Entertainment, reached out to him–he was building a team and wanted Bob on it…as a programmer!  Bob moved up to Boston and spent a lot of time figuring out computer code.  He has been successful and at that job ever since.


You can see Bob’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “Software engineering is so logical.  There’s an abundance of resources that put it all out for you, and if you spend the time to find them you’ll get the answer.”

“I work with most of the smartest people I’ve ever known.   I’m lucky to be on the team!”

“Keep an open mind.  Don’t feel that because your background is in music, you can’t learn something else.  You have time to master many things in your life.”

“Someone can explain harmony to you and tell you how  to play an instrument, but to acquire the ability you have to practice yourself and undertake that learning practice yourself.  It forces you to learn how to learn, and to discipline yourself to practice and go further.  Berklee is where I learned how to learn for myself.



See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Successful Berklee Alumni #73: Nick Potvin

Nick Potvin


Listen to the interview (approx. 58 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2009, with a major in Film Scoring.  Principal instrument:  piano.


Position:  Ad Technology Manager for the PGA Tour, the institution that coordinates various professional golfing tournaments.  A combination of management, coordination and technical skills (coding, etc.), Nick implements third-party ads on the PGA’s website and mobile apps, as well as verifies that interactive ads comply with legal privacy standards.  His job involves coding, supervision, and planning.


Overview:  Gradating into the tough job market of 2009, Nick moved to Atlanta, hearing that there was a thriving music scene there and less competition.  Work on a documentary film while still a student ultimately connected him with the producer of BET’s Soul Train Awards, where Nick started working on a freelance basis–composing a bit, helping with productions, coordinating the data during a production, and building websites and online marketing for bands at a time that they couldn’t just put videos on YOUTube.  He wasn’t making much money, but very much appreciated the power and opportunities of digital marketing.

By 2012, the freelance work was starting to dry up, and Nick decided to get move back to the Boston area and get his Masters of Professional Studies in Digital Media Management at Northeastern University.   He spend over 3 years getting the “two year” degree, as he was working full time during that time–first for a political blog in Rhode Island, then for a tech start-up, then for a marketing agency.  Some months after graduation, CVS recruited him, at a substantial pay bump, to be their digital planning and operations manager.  By the spring of 2016 Nick deciding he preferred the looser, more creative atmosphere of a smaller organization (and a milder winter), and recalling his love for golf, he reached out to the PGA to see about employment prospects.  They hit it off, and, while they didn’t have an opening right away, everyone kept in constant touch until they had creating his current position for him, which he started in the fall of 2016.


You can see Nick’s LinkedIn profile here.  Nick encourages anyone interested to reach out to him.


Choice Quotes:  “”My coworkers are a fun group of young, vibrant, smart people who are fun to be around.  I really enjoy how much the industry changes–I get bored quickly, but this space is booming and there are endless opportunities.  There’s also good job security relative to when I was in the music industry.”

At the end of the day, there’s not much difference between a brand that has a message looking for creative ways to get in front of an audience is just like an artist coming up with a new chord progression or catchy lyric to get that song to click with an audience. Once you see the parallels, it’s cool to work in advertising.”

“If I knew what I know now, I’d still have gone to Berklee.  I don’t think I’d be able to do what I do today if it weren’t for Berklee.”  Berklee is a very competitive, with sink-or-swim mentality, which gave me a lot of confidence.  Also networking–people need to build bands, need session players, etc.–there’s this constant understanding and respect for each other that’s monumentally important in the work world!”

“Go where the opportunities are, and don’t spend too much time questioning it.  If back when I was a Berklee student someone had told me I’d be interested in data regulations I’d have said they were out of their mind!  But because I was had conversations with people and was open to figuring it out I found a really fulfilling career path.”


See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.

Successful Berklee Alumni #72: Sarah Inoue Virk

Sarah Inoue Virk

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 8 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2015 with a major in Music Business.  Principal Instrument:  violin.


Position:  Assistant Media Planner at MediaHub (part of the MullenLowe Group), a large, multi-national marketing agency.  Sarah specializes in getting marketing content in appropriate places on the internet and maximizing click-throughs and other actions by consumers.  Her job involves lots of data-sorting, reporting, talking with people, and working with technology partners.


Overview:   Sarah moved to L.A. in January of 2015, to do the music-industry internship required for her degree.  She enjoyed the field, but disliked the specific work atmosphere, so after getting her degree she sought new opportunities, ultimately working as a part-time contractor for a high-tech staffing group and helping a new start-up with business development.  However, around December the work dried up, as did her income.  Sarah then co-founded a marketing/consulting business with a friend, targeting small businesses as well as musicians.  The business struggled along, gradually doing better, as the bulk of their business was managing businesses’ Instagram pages.  .  They got office space and hired an employee.  Then after about 8 months her partner went to work for a client while refusing to relinquish ownership of their company.  Sarah decided, under those circumstances, to look for a job.

For a while, her job search was unfocused and yielded nothing, until a friend pointed out that her background made her well-suited for the role of media planner.  Sarah’s boyfriend’s job was to edit commercials, and that also interested her in the power of marketing.  With a new focus to her job search, Sarah quickly landed her current job (via a job posting) in January, 2017.


You can see Sarah’s LinkedIn profile here.  Sarah wishes she had more opportunities to reach out to alumni as a student, and wants folks to be especially encouraged to reach out to her.


Choice Quotes:  “My job is to find partners & vendors on behalf of our clients. We set things up and monitor it all, but the tech does most of the work.”

“At Berklee, we musicians constantly were told to know our audience.  Marketing is the same thing as that.  Just substitute ‘target demographic’ for ‘audience.'”

“I now realize that there’s a chance for companies that invest heavily in programmatic media to see a transparent ROI (Return On Investment).  I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to show my clients exactly what a campaign did. ”

At Berklee everyone is super-passionate about music, and it’s easy to get caught up in that but it’s OK to work outside of music.  The Berklee experience offers such a robust, unique perspective that will help you succeed in many fields.”

“If you want to start a career in marketing, working at a big agency is cool.  It’s a good way to get experience and learn a lot before you work for a brand.  Just like as music, expect to put in huge hours and it’ll take a while to be established, and always be eager to learn and do better.”



See the full index of Successful Berklee Grads.