Successful Berklee Alumni #98: Michelle Pugliese

Michelle Pugliese

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


Graduated in 2008 with a major in Performance.  Principal instrument:  flute.


Position:  Educational Administrator/Manager (finance &  marketing) in the Languages Division of Temple University’s College of Liberal Arts.  (Temple is a large university with many different colleges.)  She handles accounts payable, purchases, website updates, a monthly newsletters, video productions and special events (including around 200 lectures per year!).  Michelle also works closely with department chairs, and she directly supervises four full-time staff.


Overview:  After graduating Berklee, Michelle gigged around the Boston area in a wedding band and a jazz trio and had several students, but her income wasn’t enough to support herself and after a year she moved home to Philadelphia and sought employment.  Wanting to stay within music, Michelle looked at Temple’s website–their music college had an opening for a part-time music marketing position, which she applied for an got.  Within 2 years student enrollment in the music college had doubled, which meant more work for her, and her position became full time.  Michelle also took advantage of working at a Temple University by taking classes to get a masters degree, earning her M.Ed. in Higher Ed. Leadership and Administration in 2014.

In early 2013, Michelle her boss at the music college left, and she hoped to get their position.  She applied for multiple positions at the university in order to buff up her interviewing chops.  Sadly, she did not get her boss’s position at the music college, but her “practice” interview at the College of Liberal Arts ultimately turned into a job offer for her current position.


You can see Michelle’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “Foreign languages attracted me because I think of music as a foreign language. Also, at Berklee it was amazing how you would sit with so many folks who may not speak English but you could start playing music together and figure it out. We can take classes here for free. When I have time to take a lunch break you usually can find me in a Spanish or Italian class to keep my brain sharp.”

“Berklee always stressed the importance of marketing our skills and having an online presence & press kit, and I promote myself professionally similar to how I did musically.”\

“I took my position because it would round out my resume–web design, finance, supervision. It’s a stepping stone to my next position in education.  One day I’d love to be a dean of a music or art school.”

“Take a side job until you’re financially on your feet. You’re not giving up on music, but that extra financial padding helps you enjoy life and do music on the side.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #97: Anthony Barden

Anthony Barden


Listen to the interview (approx. 55 min.) or download it.


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


Position:  Heath IT  Business Analyst (software administrator) at Michigan Medicine, a large hospital affiliated with the University of Michigan.  Specializing in the use and configuration of the software EPIC, which is used in the medical field, Anthony works with doctors and nurses to make sure the software does what they need.  His time is divided roughly evenly between fixing software problems and designing/implementing upgrades.


Overview:  After graduation, Anthony wanted to do film scoring, but chose to move to Michigan to be with his girlfriend (now wife).  Unable to find much work (or network) where he was, Anthony took a day job with a property-management company.  His now-father-in-law offered Anthony a position in his business as a mortgage broker, and Anthony spent a year getting the credentials.  However, the housing market was terrible and he got very little work in this commission-based job. Moreover, he found the work dull.  Anthony recalled that he enjoyed working with technology at Berklee and decide that he would make a good career path.  In 2011 he started his Masters in Computer Information Systems from Eastern Michigan University, graduating in 2013.

While in grad school, Anthony decided that Medical IT would be a good career path.  He applied and got a job at a technology-help desk in a hospital, where he worked while finishing his program.  Sadly, the hospital had a hiring freeze.  Upon graduation, Anthony took a low-paid summer internship at Michigan Medicine where he learned to use EPIC, and as the internship ended he was offered his current job.


You can see Anthony’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I was in grad school studying information systems. I stumbled across healthcare IT and it was interesting, mainly because the while health care industry was so far behind–until recently it was all on paper.  I figured there would be many great career opportunities in that field.”

“What I like most about my job is helping people–helping the system work better so that providers can take better care of patients. I’ts rewarding when I help a group with a system improvement–you can tell they’re grateful for it, and sometimes you can see direct results, which is pretty cool–such as alerts if medications are conflicting, and reminders to take medication.”

“The internship I did after grad school–the right move at the right time. I met all the people who could get my career to the next level. I got to shadow people with all this knowledge. I got a sense of what folks were struggling with. I got full Epic training–EPIC is in high demand, but you’re only allowed to learn it if you’re using it–I learned how the hospital’s systems worked.

“If you’re interested in working in healthcare IT, get any exposure to healthcare and health IT that you can! Even if you’re just being a clerk. So many workflows are unique to health care, so the more you get exposure to how it work and the language used the better a position you’ll be in. Also, I did well by working at service desks. You get trained on the system, you learn to troubleshoot, about customer service, and you see patterns in what people struggle with. Another thought is to go work for EPIC, or for a medical IT consulting firm, as those are other ways you can get an EPIC certification.  If you can get that certification you’ll get so many opportunities!”


Anthony with his family.  “Recruiters reach out to me with job offers 3-5 times per week offering me jobs across the country. So many health systems are trying to catch up, but not enough people have EPIC certifications.  I could make more money as a consultant, constantly traveling.  But I like the flexibility of my job and my work/life balance. It’s nice to be able to come in late or take a day off if my kids are sick.”




Anthony still plays guitar sometimes writes music, but mainly for his own enjoyment.  “Music is my way to unwind, relax, be creative. I hope that someday my girls will be into it–family jam time!”

“I wish everyone the best of luck in pursuing your musical dream. Some of you may find that it can’t be 100% of your income, but that’s OK.  For me, music is a small portion of my day and 0% of my income. That said, music is still very important to me. I learned some great lessons at Berklee and wouldn’t change what I did.”






See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #96: Morgan Mallory

Morgan Mallory

Listen to the interview (approx. 55 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  voice.


Position:  Sales Excecutive (Business to Business sales) at The Office Connection.   Working in the metro-Chicago area, Morgan sells her company’s office equipment and supplies as well as services such as cleaning and paper stredding to mostly-local businesses.  Roughly one third of her time is spent managing current accounts (she earns money with every order they place.), and the rest of finding new business.


Overview:  For two years after graduation, Morgan tried to make it as a singer in the Boston area, working with a wedding band and gigging, but earned a very modest income.  She moved to L.A. and needed a day job.  Her father, who sold coffee to offices, put in the good word to Alta Food Craft, which got Morgan a similar job.  For a year, Morgan sold coffee during the day and gigged in the evening, until she was laid off.  However, Morgan’s experience meant that, one application later, she was Quill, a subsidiary of Staples, which sold equipment directly to businesses.  Sadly, the pay there was pretty modest, and after a while she decided that a prosperous music career wasn’t going to happen.  In mid-2016 she moved home to Chicago and stopped pursuing a music career.

Between Morgan’s father knowing someone and Morgan’s very relevant work experience, soon after moving home Morgan got her current job in mid-2016.  Morgan has done very well in this mostly commission-based job, which has been a major financial step up from anything she had done before.  Morgan continues to work there, while planning to go back to school sometimes soon to get an executive MBA “because I belong on the C-level.”


You can see Morgan’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I join organizations and build relationships. I’m in multiples Chambers of Commerce and go to their events. Then when selling, rather than go, ‘Hi, this is Morgan.  Are you responsible for ordering supplies?’ it’s much more effective to go “Hi, this is Morgan. I met Karen at such-and-such event. I’m a member of your Tenley Park Chamber of Commerce.  Karen told me that you’re the person responsible for ordering supplies.”

“I’m proud to say I’m getting myself out of debt. Paying off my student loans and I’m currently looking for a home to purchase.”

“I’m juggling so much at this job! I’m up-selling current accounts. Trying to build relationships locally and nationally. Joining organizations, and going to events all the time. Those accounts I’ve build relationships with, getting them going. ”

“My Music Business classes, such as Economics and Accounting, helped me understand how the industry works and the complexities of market competition. For example, currently Staples is under financial pressure–I can tell the end user what’s happening in the market and why The Office Connection is a better bet.”

“Live your life, life your dreams, but don’t let your heart go where your brain can’t follow. If you’re not making money, that’s not a job–that’s a hobby.”


Morgan singing in the evening.   “I was a professional vocalist for 10 years, mostly Boston but also L.A. for 2 years and even Dubai for 4 months. Sales is similar– like performance, you have to make a connection with people. I want my customers to say ‘I don’t just buy from the Office Connection, I buy from Morgan!'”






See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #95: Ernie McMillan

Ernie McMillan

Listen to the interview (approx. 45 min.) or download it.

Graduated in 2013 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal Instrument:  drums.


Position:  Assistent V.P; Salesforce Support Analyst (Product Manager) at City National Bank, a national level bank, headquartered in L.A., which specializes in loans to the entertainment industry.  Ernie is one of ten people on the Salesforce team, supporting that Customer Relationship Management software,. but the one person doing his exact role:  assisting with data migration, training, and making sure the software used to its best, improving the platform to meet the bank’s needs.  “I communicate with business-side users to find what they need and then translate that in technical terms to the development team, which builds it.”


Overview:  Ernie grew up in the San Francisco area and always liked technology, though he was a history major before transferring to Berklee.  His last semester at Berklee he did an internship at Echonest (now part of Spotify), which combined music and technology.  After graduating, he ultimately wanted to move to L.A. and pursue a music career, but decided first to move home to work and save up money in order to “fund the dream.”  He applied for a contractor job at Yelp, which he got in part because of his tech-based internship.  He started by reviewing user “flagged” user content, but quickly moved up and took responsibility for building pages, which involved interacting with Yelp’s Salesforce team.  Ernie worked at Yelp for a full year, the last 6 months remotely after he moved to L.A.

Ernie was gigging, but when his contract ended, he again needed more income, so he applied and got a job at a start up, PTTOW, which needed someone with Salesforce experience to run their database.  He worked there for close to two years until he heard that City National Bank was going to be putting together a Salesforce team, which would be a great opportunity to move up.  He applied for his current job, didn’t hear back for a few months, then they responded and he got it in May, 2017.


You can see Ernie’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “In my role, every day has a new challenge that keeps me on my toes, thinking, expanding my horizon.”

“A cool thing with Salesforce is there’s a number of ways you can solve a given problem. It’s fun to have to try to figure out the best possible solution.”

“When I have a passion toward something I can pick it up quickly.  I was self-taught on drums coming into Berklee; it was similarly easy for me to pick up Salesforce. ”

“Music has taught me not only how to focus on a task at hand, but also how to work on a team. As a drummer I’m a solid foundation that carries a group.”

“There’s pressure to come out of Berklee and think you’re going to have a great music career. But it helps to look at Berklee as a great college experience. Learn about yourself, your strengths, how to learn. Be open to other opportunities and career paths. Understand your skill set–see what works for you, keeping you happy and keeping the bills paid. But keep that passion for music, which you still can do on the side.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Presentation #3a: Berklee Grads: What Berklee Did Well & Advice

This presentation, similar to #3a, was given in September, 2017 to multiple sections of the Career Development Seminar (LHUM-400).  It features many direct quotes 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.  The presentation also summarizes data about careers and career paths.

Download the presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – Aug. 2017 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 98, except for #7.

Successful Berklee Alumni #94: Andrea D’Agostino

Andrea D’Agostino

Listen to the interview (approx. 35 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2007 with majors in Music Business and Songwriting.  Principal instrument:  voice.


Position:  Digital Content Marketing Manager at Subway.  (The restaurant chain, she works at their corporate headquarters.)  Andrea oversees the (domestic) general market and Hispanic market for social media marketing.  She works with agencies that do creative work, and checks that content is being created correctly and is both legal and right for Subway’s brand.


Overview:  Living in New York after finishing Berklee, Andrea tended bar, gigged, and book gigs.  She had two other day jobs:  working at a small company that put on events until it folded two years later, and working as a nanny for two more years until the family moved away.  A friend suggested that Andrea join her working at the Victoria’s Secret corporate headquarters as a full-time production coordinator; Andrea interviewed and took the job, despite some discomfort about leaving music.

The first year was tough, but Andrea connected well as she carved out her own, much more creative, niche.  She worked there for 4 more years, but in the last year her husband took a job in Connecticut and they moved out there.  She found the very long commute unpleasant, so she started applying to jobs in Connecticut, hearing back from Subway, which was looking to hire their first social media marketing people, and wrote her back after several months.  Andrea got her job there in the spring of 2016.


You can see Andrea’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “I really love working with creative. There are are a lot of similarities with music. I love throwing idea out and seeing them come to live–there was nothing and now there’s something.”

“A former boss there told me to ‘find a hole in the company and fill it. That’s how you get recognized and move up.’ Get your foot in the door, once it’s in you’ll have the chance to make a name for yourself.”


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