Successful Berklee Alumni #137: Mike Day

Mike Day


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


Graduated in 2010 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  bass.


Position:  Account Executive (sales) at NetApp, a large data-storage company that provides online data-storage “the Cloud” services to large businesses, as well as hospitals and governments.  “Everyone carries in their pocket the data services we provided by NetApp.”  Around 25% of his time is spent on finding new clients, while the other 75% is spent on existing clients–making sure that NetApp is meeting their data storage needs and offering opportunities to upgrade their services.


Overview:  Graduating at the end of the summer, Mike was feeling a bit burned-out on music and wanted a break.  He moved home to Chicago, worked as a camp counselor and at a day care, plus gigged and taught music a bit on the side.  A friend’s parent had a wine distribution company which needed a merchandise person, and Mike took the job, but after a few months realized that wine wasn’t a passion and started looking for something else.  His uncle, who ironically was working at NetApp at the time, suggested he apply for a sales job at CDW, a large re-seller of technology.  That job was really tough, with lots of cold-calling and fairly low pay, but Mike worked extremely hard and stayed extra long and after 2 years was promoted to a outside sales job in Madison, Wisconsin.

After a successful year, his boss and boss’s boss moved to Dallas and took him with them, but his job started to feel more like inside sales, so Mike looked for a new opportunity and found one selling software for EMC.  Two years later a hiring manager at NetApp reached out to Mike directly and convinced him to work for NetApp.


You can see Mike’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:   “I dove into music age 14-22.  I see sales as another avenue to be the best I can be. There’s also a lot of autonomy–I can create my own schedule, work from home if I want.”

“Be proud of your Berklee degree–it’s one of the hardest degrees to get in America! Wear it and create a narrative around why the Berklee degree is valuable in this other industry.”

“To have a successful sales career, control the controllables. My first couple years I worked 70-100 hour weeks. That got me a reputation that allowed me to progress my career. Also sometimes you have to move out to move up. Get in early, stay late, make great friends with your boss & network. If you’re a successful musician you’ve already learned how to do this

Music is a microcosm to life. “Practice doesn’t make perfect–PERFECT practice makes perfect!   Music also teaches us to listen first–listening, it isn’t about soloing all the time. It’s learning how to support. In sales, we should be listening for 55 minutes and talking for 5.”

“I’ve never looked for a job without having one currently–you lose all leverage if you don’t have a job.”

“I plays music nearly every day for my baby son.  I hand’t realized how much of my ego & identify were tied to music. With my son my ego & identity have nothing to do with it and it’s just about fun and trying to make him smile. It’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with music.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #136: Pamela Hrncir

Pamela Hrncir


Listen to the interview (approx. 32 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2016 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  voice.


Position:  Senior Account Executive (account management) at Hazmat Media, a modest size (10-15 employee) distribution warehouse which specializes in packaging and sending out product to influential people as part of marketing campaigns, including movies makers seeking Academy Awards.  Pamela’s job is to be in touch with the customers, overseeing everything related to the order being placed, send to their warehourse, then packaged and shipped properly and followed-up on.  During the slow season she’ll also call customers to see if they need any more work done, and during the busy season she’ll sometimes help with the actual packaging.  “We all have no qualms about staying late to meet client deadlines. Nobody including the president is above stuffing envelopes.”


Overview:  Pamela grew up overseas, with her father in the military and stationed at U.S.  embassies.  From age 16 through college she would do administrative work at embassies–mostly helping U.S. citizens with passport issues–and found she enjoyed it.  Pamela and her boyfriend graduated Berklee at the same time and moved to L.A.    Needing to make money right away, and given her experience she figured it would be easier to quickly find an administrative job than a music one.

She signed up with a temp agency, which placed her at Hazmat, in a more junior role.  Within a few months, she was hired as a regular employee.  About 6 months after that the senior person left the company.  She started doing their job and, one successful busy season later, was officially promoted to her position and given a good raise.


You can see Pamela’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “”I really enjoy the client relations. I enjoy doing my job well and making the client happy and making sure everything runs smoothly. I like being part of the machine that makes these product launches and award-winning films possible.”

“I still look at Berklee fondly and learned a lot while there. You don’t have to do something in music. If you have other qualifications, your Berklee background shouldn’t hold you back. Follow what you think is right and don’t be afraid to try new things.”

“The course load was a lot larger at Berklee than most schools, and that got me good at multitasking in a high-intensity environment–including the busy season at my job when there are a million expectations.”

“Temp agencies are your friend. They’re the middleman between what you already know how to do . I’ve known many people who have had success using temp agencies, esp. if you don’t have any direct connections.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #135: Ally Duncan

Ally Duncan


Listen to the interview or download it.


Graduated in 2011 from the Boston Conservatory with a major in Musical Theater.


Position:  Account Executive (sales & account management) at CoxReps, part of the Cox Media Group.  Coxreps is the “middle-man” between TV stations which sell space for commercials and the buyers (generally ad agencies working for clients) who seek to place these ads on TV.  As an account executive paid a combination of base salary and commission, Ally negotiates the package of what gets aired when and for what price, but roughly half of her job is making sure that everything happens as planned for devising mutually-acceptable work-arounds when things don’t (for example, if breaking news preempts a scheduled ad).


Overview:  After she graduted in May of 2011, Ally wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, except that she didn’t want to live in New York.  Her parents, who were in Atlanta, encouraged to move there, and her father, who had been working in media sales for many years, put in the word with a business associate which led to her getting a job with her current employer as sales assistant–mostly data entry, which she did while doing the occasional theater contract (“8-10 week gig”) on the side, seeing the job as a temporary way to make money.  She did that for roughly 2.5 years until, felling a bit burned out and with the opportunity to doing a prestigious contract happening during the day, she quite her job and “Did the starving artist thing” for a year and a half.  It started well, but the contract became more sporadic and lower-paying than the initial ones, and she was running out of money.

Finally, deciding that she’d rather be financially comfortable, Ally called Coxreps and asked for her old job back, but made it clear that to her this was no longer a temporary way to make money but the first step in her career path.  She got the job back and after 8 months an Account Executive position opened up.  Ally applied and had to compete vs. internal and external candidates, but she put a lot of effort into her application/presentation and got her current position in July, 2016.


You can see Ally’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:   “I’ve always been interested in sales. I’m pretty extroverted. Sales lends itself well to people people–people who like to talk on the phone, take people out to lunch, entertain. That’s a fun part of my job to me.”

“Any person who goes into sales will find a theater degree incredibly useful experience–a lot of your job is acting. When entertaining people (dinners or on the phone) you have to adapt & change and be a different person with everyone.”

“In the perfect wold everything would go smoothly and we’d be done. Unfortunately, often there’s breaking news coverage or an overtime sports game that preempts our programming. When that happens, we have to facilitate make-up spots. Other times a show gets cancelled or a special is airing and we have to figure out how to make our buy still work. Half my job is negotiating the buys, the other half is facilitating them and keeping everyone happy.”


Ally in costume, from a musical production of Sweeney Todd.  “The great thing about having a full-time job and having a livable salary is I can pick and choose the passion projects I want to work on instead of having to just take every contract because I need the money.”



Ally with coworkers.  “I love the company I work for, which is really good to its employees, and really like the team I’m on so even on the bad days I have really strong support.”






Ally with friends.  “Be true to yourself. I had all these ideas about who I thought I was supposed to be based on my degree and the expectations that go with that, but my 1.5 years as a starving artist made me want to be true to who I was and go have a career. Don’t be ashamed to be who you are; and know & own what you want.




See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni

Successful Berklee Alumni #134: Chris Carlson

Chris Carlson


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 2 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2009 with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  drums.


Position:  Contract Web Developer at Microsoft  (Official title:  Software Engineer 2).  Officially he is an employee of Robert Half Technology, a tech staffing agency that places developers where needed, but for over a year he has been working at the same position at Microsoft, helping with the website related to their Azure product — Microsoft’s cloud platform.  His position used the Kanban Model, meaning he and the other developers on his team work on many small items.


Overview:   After graduation Chris moved home to Seattle, and started teaching drums at a drumming school for money while gigging a lot with many different bands and genres, and continued to do this until 2015 (with two years in the middle spent in Nashville working at Guitar Center and gigging).  By 2015, Chris started to question whether he truly wanted to keep doing the same thing “I didn’t want to be playing $150 gigs when I was 50.” and saw a musician friend of his go to a coding “boot camp” and get a good job, so he figured he’d explore coding.  While still teaching drums and gigging, his his spare time Chris taught himself to code, started with free tutorials at Codecademy and soon started taking more advanced tutorials as the still-cheap Code School (a.k.a. Pluralsight).  After a few months of this, Chris felt ready to do the boot camp.  He stopped teaching, almost stopped gigging, and did the intensive 12-week web development program at General Assembly.

Graduating at the end of 2015, it took Chris 5 months to find a job–not unusual for someone with no technical background, but eventually a recruiter hooked him up with a job at a small web development firm, where he worked for about 8 months before getting laid off.  However, “Now that I had experience, the second job search was so much easier!” Within two months he had two job offers, and took his current position.


You can see Chris’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “”I really enjoy coding. There are a lot of similarities to playing an instrument. It’s very challenging and technical, but also very creative and there are people who make beautiful works of art with their code.”

“I’m lucky to have a good work-life balance and I still gig once or twice a week. I have some really good relationships with local musicians, some of whom I’ve played with since 2010.”

“You also have to prepare yourself for technical interviews because they’ll ask you how to solve these coding problems on a white board. I memorized certain coding algorithms which are popular, and bought a little whiteboard to practice on my own.”

“At Berklee you’re with people from all over the world and different cultures and you learn to work together in a positive way with such different people.  Coding is exactly like that — you get that team mentality that we’re in this together and everyone’s trying to give their best.”

I had a very set mindset on what my life would look like and never thought I’d end up as a developer at Microsoft! But what helped me along the way was being open to new possibilities.  I didn’t worry that something would get in the way of my drumming. I just initially thought I liked coding and I’d go with it and see what happens.



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Presentation #4c: Berklee Grads: What Berklee Did Well + Advice

This presentation, similar to #4a, is being given in the summer of 2018 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.

It features two minor additions relative to #4a:  a page showcasing where people are living how, and a conclusion page.

Download the Presentation.

Data from everyone class of 2005 or later interviewed in 2015 – Dec. 2017 was tabulated and used; interviews #1 – 110, except for #7.

Successful Berklee Alumni #133: Dany Orozco

Dany Orozco


Listen to the interview (approx. 38  min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2013 with a major in Music Therapy.  Principal instrument:  drums.


Position:  Freelance Technical Recruiter working for Technetalent, a small staffing agency based in New York City which finds software developers and engineers for open roles.  Dany works remotely from her home in Guadalajara, Mexico, going through LinkedIn profiles to find people whose experience and skills meet the requirements for the open jobs.  She then sends out contact inquiries and sends on to her boss any who indicate interest.


Overview:  After completing her internship and graduating, Dany moved back to Mexico, intending to start her own Music Therapy practice.  Music therapy was pretty much nonexistent there, and finding clients was a lot of work.  She supplemented this work with teaching.  In 2015, she studied music prouction in L.A., then upon returning realized that she wanted to pursue a career in a band, touring and gigging, “When I’m 40 or 50 I can go back to music therapy, but if I don’t do a band now it’s never going to happen.”  Dany spent much of 2016 writing songs, and joined the band Lunaem later that year.

A music therapy practice has very rigid hours, and Dany needed more flexibility, so he let that taper off.  In May, 2017, she signed up with as a freelance worker, and did many different little jobs;  helping plan a wedding, finding songs for a dance app, doing administrative work for a start-up, etc.  After a few months, she started working for Technetalent, and that relationship has continued to this day.


You can see Dany’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:  “It’s very interesting. You’re looking at people’s lives and it’s interesting to see how people describe their own work. Sometimes they write about stuff beyond just their work too. I’m very happy with all the flexibility–both when I work and how many hours– and my boss is really cool.”

My own expectations when I graduated was I had to work full-time in music or would be a failure. I taught music lessons to kids, event though I didn’t enjoy it much. There’s a moment you have to make a compromise of either doing something music-related that’s unenjoyable or doing something non-music related that allows you to have the life–and do the music!–that you like. For me it’s better to have a non-music job that allows me to pursue my musical passion.”

“If you’re interested in technical recruiting, it will help to learn a little about the different technologies you’ll be recruiting for.  You’ll more easily figure out which jobs people are better suited for. ”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #132: Henry Moyerman

Henry Moyerman


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 27 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2011 with majors in Music Production & Engineering and Electronic Production & Design.  Principal instrument:  vibrophone.


Position:  Product Manager (officially Avionics Engineer) at Boeing, a 150,000-person aerospace company operating mostly in the defense industry.  Henry works on the EA18G Growler, an Electronic Warfare fighter.  New, embedded software products are developed and  put into the jet.  Henry supervise that process from beginning to end, from the initial estimates, to working with aircrew to specify the feature, interface, and functionality to writing up the requirements, then a supervising process dealing with any problems that come up while engineers are building and testing it.

Overview:  At Berklee, Henry most enjoyed post-production and sound design, so after graduation at the end of 2011 he moved to L.A. and within a couple of months got a full-time job as an assistant engineer at a post-production company with roughly 30 people.  In barely over half a year Henry was promoted to engineer and received a large hourly raise.  However, the hours were sporadic and variable based on the needs of the shows they were working on, so his income stayed the same.  By 2014 he was starting to feel disenchanted with the work, disliking the emphasis on speed over quality and the feast-or-famine schedule where you might not work one week and then have to work overnight or holidays the next.  He started to think about careers and was inspired by the video Humans Need Not Apply and the encouragement his mentor to seriously consider switching careers to computer science.

While visiting St. Louis, a professor at Washington University encouraged Henry to get his masters, and gave him some work to do on his own.  Henry spent the fall learning more math and computer science via websites and courses, then moved to St. Louis in the spring to do the last prerequisite for the program while continuing to work remotely for the audio post-production studio.  Henry officially entered the program in the fall of 2015 and by August 2016 had his Masters in Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis.  During the spring semester, many recruiters came to campus to interview candidates, which led to a job at Boeing all lined up for after he graduated.  Henry was interested in product management, but was initially hired as a developer, but after a few months indicated his interest in product management and was allowed to switch after a year.

You can see Henry’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes:   “I’ve always felt between two worlds. I have this technical/engineering instinct but at the same time I’m a creative person who loves arts and working with people.  Sometimes I work with very technical people and have to translate that to speak with pilots and others who may not be non-technical. It’s very hard to find folks like me who are technical but also have those strong interpersonal/ communication skills. If you’re good at that, there’s a lot of career potential.”

“Getting the job at Boeing was night & day different from being in post-production.  When I left that post-production job they put a post online and got 450 resumes in 24 hours!  Then at Wash U there were job fairs–companies weer coming to me trying to hire me! I loved it!”

“In L.A. I survived; in St. Louis I thrive. I have a work-life balance, I enjoy my work and like my colleagues (more). I have time and $ for hobbies and trips and a fulfilling life that I wanted. Now my job is just one of many things I do that fulfills me–I also am a triathlete and rock climber, plus still do some music.”

“I started as a software engineer, but do no coding whatsoever. You really need an engineering background, but beyond that it doesn’t really matter. You have to understand the process.”

“In my job you have to learn to work in teams with other people–working in a music studio at Berklee was very similar. You get a sense of how to get everyone on the same page–and quickly as you only have the studio for so long–or have to meet a hard deadline in a studio.  Preparing for a recording session is a lot like preparing for an important meeting.”

“If you decide to do a different job from what you studied, that doesn’t make it wrong, and it doesn’t make you a failure. You have no idea what these jobs are going to be like until you’re actually doing them. If you’re learning that the actual job doesn’t fit your skill set or make you happy for any number of reasons there is nothing wrong with trying to do something else–I know tons of people who are doing something other than what they studied.”

“I still do some paid post-production work on the side–my website is  The projects I work on now bring me so much more happiness than when that was my full-time thing and sole source of income. Now I have the luxury of saying yes or no to projects, and it’s not about the income, it’s about the pleasure of what I’m doing–this is much like how I fell in love with post-production back when I was going to Berklee.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.