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