Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 10 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2008 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: guitar.
Position: Software Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer at Ellevation Education. Ellevation Education sells software which helps teachers analyze and support the progress of students who are non-native English speakers, their typical customers being public school districts. Brandon makes sure the product works correctly before it goes to the customers, focusing on “front end” interface–in other words, he tests it as though he were an actual user.
Overview: Brandon went straight from Berklee to a 2-year Masters in Music in Sound Recording Technology at UMASS-Lowell. He taught lots of music lessons, and by the second year has applied for and got a job at a local Apple Store, working his way up from sales floor to doing tech support at their “Genius Bar.” He continued to work there the year after college, but a year after graduation he felt his career at Apple had hit a plateau and he didn’t like the erratic and evening hours, so he looked for a 9 – 5 job–ideally one involving music technology.
A friend worked for Nuance Communications, a voice recognition company, and that helped him get a job as a “Device Certification Specialist,” testing how well different microphones worked with the software. As he worked off the backlog, his boss let him learn more about software testing, and after a year and a half his title changed to QA Engineer, which came with a pay bump. Brandon worked there for another 4.5 years, until in October 2016 he got laid off. However, very soon a recruiter from Ellevation Education reached out to him, and he decided to take his current job because he liked doing new things and liked their corporate culture.
You can see Brandon’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “I enjoy two things about QA. One is the problem-solving, puzzle aspect of it. The job doesn’t stop at finding a bug–there’s a lot of troubleshooting and figuring out how it works. The bigger thing is that at the end of the day I’m a customer advocate. I think about the users–teachers and people who taught me and will eventually teach my daughter and are doing work I respect. I help make sure the product is something they can use easily and get real benefit from.”
“Teaching guitar didn’t change much year to year; I like that the tech field is always changing. Of course, it take a certain mindset, to have the personality to always be learning.”
“Part of the reason I became a QA engineer is because I never said no when new opportunities arose.”
Being in the right atmosphere and with people you like makes all the difference. I don’t care how much you love what you do. If you don’t like the people you’re working with you won’t be happy.”
Brandon as a Berklee student. “At Nuance Communications I was the only native-born American on my 8-person team. Berklee similarly had classes/ensembles like that–that diversity was so cool and was a great cultural learning experience ans preparation for my work environment.”
Brandon with his wife and their baby. “My first year of grad school I was working 80 hours/week and I was starting to fall out of love with music as teaching lessons felt like work– I reevaluated what I wanted, and my love for music is back. The other year my wife and I went to 50 concerts!”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.