Successful Berklee Alumni #128: Marcel Hamel

Marcel Hamel


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


Graduated in 2009 with a major in Performance.  Principal instrument:  bass guitar.


Position:  Implementation Engineer at Sailthru, a company specializing in marketing automation, for example, automatically sending follow-up emails when someone has browsed a product.  Marcel is one of two implementation engineers out of 200 employeees.  “Every time a new client comes on board, one of us is dedicated to wiring them up with our system and making sure everything is functioning properly.” He also does hands-on coding projects for his own company, often projects to improve the customer’s interface.


Overview:  Marcel toured with a theatrical show both before and after graduation.  But by 2010, tired of being on the road, he moved to New York to pursue his musical career.  He taught music, did some off-Broadway theater runs, and gigged, then did a 3-year tour with the Mama Mia! musical.  But he tried of being on the road, missing his family and hardly ever seeing his fiancee–also a performer.  Moving back to New York, he tried to re-connect with the local scene, but found his network had atrophied in his absence. “It was unpleasant. You leave and life goes on without you.”  However, he noticed that a lot of friends had done coding “boot camps” and getting good jobs that they liked.

Still gigging some, Marcel studied computers on his own for close to half a year, then did a 12-week boot camp at General Assembly.   Once the program was done, he did a bit of freelance programming work while looking for a full-time job.  It took him about 4 months of applying to get his current position, which had posted the opening on one of General Assembly’s job boards.


You can see Marcel’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “There’s a good amount of practical problem-solving in software development in general, and specifically what we do here.  Out software is, for better or worse, a living, breathing thing that’s updated all the time and changes features to suit each user.  It’s more than sitting down in front of a screen running tests over and over–it’s a very human, practical thing.”

“Migrating customers’ data into our system sounds simpler than it is–there are a million quirks that can show up–different system may handle data differently, have different parameters, etc.”

“Go out into the world and fail at a lot of things to figure out what you actually want to do. Embrace your position which is that you can accept a lot of risk without consequence.”

“Meeting so many musicians at Berklee and being forced to create something with them is very analogous to dealing with clients in my current job. It really puts you in a position to facilitate thing happening while working with people with all sorts of backgrounds and viewpoints.”

“It’s thankfully easy in 2018 to figure out if you have an aptitude for code. There are so many free resources which will teach you the basics. You can go to FreeCodeCamp or CodeAcademy. Go through a self-guided course. If that’s fun to you, you can go down that road and be in a really good place to start your journey into tech.”


See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.