Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 15 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2011 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: alto saxophone.
Position: Software Engineer at IQVIA, a large, Fortune 500 medical data firm. AJ works on a 6-person team (4 designers, 2 engineers) that builds demos and prototypes for internal use. He also has a side job with a start up that uses blockchain technology to build “smart contracts.”
Overview: AJ spent his first three years after graduation in California (a years in Chico, followed by two in Oakland) working in various food-related jobs. On a farm, selling juice, working at Whole Foods, managing a cafe. But by 2012 he was getting interested in technology via interactions with customers and others. “”If you live in the Bay Area, software is just part of your world.” He started to teach himself coding in his off-time, but put that aside as his music opportunities multiplied and he did several tours. With those done in 2014 and feeling burned out on the small-business food world, AJ was attracted to the opportunities and higher pay in high technology. He spent over a year getting up to speed, between self-study and attending a coding “boot camp.”
It took 4 months and 100 applications to get his first job, which was in Las Vegas. He moved out there, but got laid off 5 months later. He moved to Seattle and spent over 3 months in the next job search, keeping himself busy by building websites from scratch. Finally, in July of 2017 he was hired into his current job.
You can see AJ’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “I love what I do. I wake up every day and want to win at this. I’m totally dedicated to this. For the last month I worked so much–and rather than complain it’s because I wanted to do that! I see this progress, and it’s real.”
“What I care about is solving problems. That’s the name of the game when it comes to tech. . I’m trying to work with more decentralized tech, which the general public will be able to take advantage of and empower themselves with it. As a musician, there are technical solutions which will help musicians, and I’m not just talking about streaming.”
“There’s so much pressure to just do music (or just live in a certain city)–I got that pressure a lot. But listen to yourself, and follow your gut, period. None of those other folks are going to pay your bills and rent or live your life. However you’re trying to put it together, stay with that vision and don’t let things break your focus. If you’re trying to get into a non-music career, just do it!”
AJ as a Berklee student, playing his sax. “Coding is not easy; it is not for dabblers if you want to do it for a living. If you want to be good for the long haul, you have to take it as seriously as you took your instrument–you need to work VERY hard.”
AJ feeling good in Seattle.”I sometimes can’t believe I have this career that I have. Music and software are everything to me. I have so much to offer to the world.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.