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.