Listen to the interview (approx. 55 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2010 with a major in Film Scoring. Principal instrument: guitar.
Position: Web developer at the University of Chicago Law School. The one in-house developer, Luke gets assigned projects by the school’s IT director and is then a “one-man band,” designing, coding, and testing the websites he builds. While officially a front-end developer, he deals with back-end stuff as well, “everything but the databases.”
Overview: After graduation, Luke moved to Burlington, Vermont to “do the band thing” with guys he had been playing with since high school, while working day jobs to support himself, and got the occasional film-scoring project. As a hobby, he did websites for his band and to showcases his other work. Opportunities were limited in such a small city, so in January, 2012 he moved to Chicago, hoping to make a living doing music for commercials. He started looking for freelance work, while hoping to get a job in music. A sheet music store, Performers Music, hired him (at minimum wage) to build their website. He got a little raise, but hoping to make more money applied and got a similar web-building job for a liquor store in early 2013, then 6 months later, got a better-paying half-time job building websites for the University of Chicago’s Music School.
While Luke continued to get the occasional little music scoring project, the money there was extremely minimal. Taking advantage of having a well-paying part time job, Luke decided to actively pursue a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction at DePaul University., while continuing to work part-time for the University of Chicago. January 2017, a few months out from completing his Masters, Luke started looking for a full-time job, and got one at a website translation firm. However, he didn’t love the place and after about 9 months he was one of many who got laid off. However, he saw that the University of Chicago had just created his current position, and with his experience/references there he quickly got the job.
Luke continues to do music for fun, and his band in Chicago, Cirkut Mob, put out an album. You can see that multi-media music/story experience at their website–built by Luke of course!
You can see Luke’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “I enjoy a number of things about web development. It feels like a game to figure out how all these moving parts should fit together. It’s challenging, but there’s a million Stack Overflow posts, tutorials, websites, etc. to help me meet those challenges. It’s satisfying to know that any wall I hit there’s a way though it. All the logic, planning, and organization goes into making this neat-looking interface come to life. And hopefully it has real value to somebody somewhere.”
“If you want to be a web developer, learn all you can. Keep building new sites. I took a class where I had to build 10 stupid little websites, and that cemented a lot of knowledge. Be ambitious in what you try to do with websites–always push what you know, research the best practice for whatever it is you’re trying to do. Practice. Learn more. There’s nearly unlimited online resources. Build yourself a nice portfolio website that shows that you can code, and that goes a long way.”
“Berklee taught me to be disciplined and good at self-teaching, exploring something I’m passionate about it and learning all I could–I applied that model to web design later on. Berklee also gave me experience making creative output and getting critiques on it. That’s valuable and gave me a thick skin.”
Luke with his wife. “Meeting her helped me sort out a lot of things. I realized some things I wanted in life–to buy a house, to have a family–and random little music projects weren’t going to get me that. But I was fortunate to be really passionate about web design and development.”
Luke at work. “One thing that attracted me to this job was that I’ll be doing multiple roles. “This job lets me be a UX designer and I gather requirements and build mock-ups, then I get to build it and make sure it works correctly.
Luke playing in his metal band in Vermont shortly after graduation. “Music is this funny thing. To be successful in it, you need to be making stuff people like, be really good at it, and be good at self-promotion. If you can do all three, that’s awesome. For everybody else, hopefully there’s a lining up of what people are willing to pay you for and what you enjoy doing.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.