Successful Berklee Alumni #141: Conrad Hollomon

Conrad Hollomon

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 33 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2008 with a major in Film Scoring.  Principal instrument:  viola.

 

Position:  Program Director (Corporate Trainer/Consultant) at Techstars, an “accelerator” which takes early-stage technology start-ups invests in them, and puts them through a 3-month training program on how to grow and be financially successful.  Conrad is on a 2-person team specializing in hardware.  He finds clients, builds the curriculum, works one-on-one with the founders and helps them network.

Overview:    After graduation Conrad got a job with Harmonix, which makes music software, as a QA (Quality Assurance) tester.  He also had done ROTC while at Berklee and went into the U.S. Army Reserves.  While doing QA he was interested in engineering, and began hanging out with the engnieers at work.  He worked at Harmonix for 6 years, though one of those was spent in Afghanistan with his army unit.  While he was doing coding informally at his job, and was promoted to senior QA tester, but he wanted to be a “real engineer” so in 2015 he started looking for jobs.    Mid-2014 a former boss at Harmonix had moved on to GSN (TV & Games) and convinced Conrad to follow along, again in a QA role but after doing so found he didn’t like the large corporate atmosphere and soon started looking for other opportunities.

Meanwhile, Conrad volunteered with Operation Code, a non-profit which helps veterans learn coding to build their civilian  careers.  He went through an accelerator as part of that, and got connected wtih the tech/startup scene in Boston, which in turn connected him to Techstars.  Conrad’s experiences working with military hardware, training people, and working in high-tech made him a great fit for an open position, and he was hired int his current job in October, 2017.  In addition to his full-time job and continued volunteering with Operation Code, Conrad is working toward getting his MBA.

 

You can see Conrad’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I love being in a role where I can help others be successful. It’s endlessly creative. You see all these creative technologies. All these creative & innovative people who are trying to make it to the next level while creating something really special. Knowing I can help turn those dreams into reality is the best part of my job.”

“What the tech industry needs most in organizations are folks with empathy, who know how to communicate, who understand how to work on small teams. Everyone at Berklee does that.”

“Be flexible and iterative in your career.  Once you’ve learned what you can from something, don’t hesitate to try something else. Too many folks waste 10-20 years doing something they don’t like while what they like is a side thing–I don’t want to live that way.”

“Working with music hardware, complex software platforms, has a lot of applications that people don’t always think about.  Music is that alignment between empathy and understanding others, but there’s also an element of rigor and discipline. You’re looking at how all these pieces of music work together. That’s what good product design is about.  Improvization is important as well.  I would not be where I am at all without my Berklee degree–that was the exact degree needed for my career.”

Startups are a great place to be. You’ll be taking risks and eating ramen for a bit, but the highs and the lows are awesome.  To get into the field, look at the experiences you’ve had and figure out what your ‘superpower’ is–what people know you for. ”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #140: Victor Bracht

Victor Bracht

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 44 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2009 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  French horn.

 

Position:  (Internal) Help Desk Specialist at Facebook.   Victor does many small tasks each week, one of 9 people supporting roughly 3,000 other Facebook employees on various technical issues.  Tasks range from setting people up with new machines to troubleshooting when apps don’t open or email isn’t working right to a bit of system administration.

 

Overview:  While a Berklee student, Victor did computer support–not all that dissimilar to his current job.  Graduating during a terrible economic recession, he moved home to Western Massachusetts, though aware that the music industry there was pretty minimal.  First Victor doing some music-related, seasonal work at Six Flags amusement park, then he found a job doing a combination of IT support, photo-editing and framing at a small photography studio.  But the pay wasn’t great and by late 2011 he was ready for a change.  A friend suggested he join him in Austin and he and his then-girlfriend drove down there “with $1000 to our names and no jobs lined up.”  Applying widely to jobs, he received 3 job offers, and took a full-time tech support from a company IT Freedom which provided computer support for local businesses.

Victor worked there for 2.5 years, then got laid off in early 2014.  Fortunately, he knew someone at a company that provided customer support for other companies, and was hired as a SME (Subject Matter Expert).  Eventually, he started to feel a bit stuck, as there wasn’t the prospect of career growth there, so Victor started applying to jobs–including a couple of positions at Facebook–while continuing to work.  One very long interview process later, he was hired into his current job in November, 2017.

 

You can see Victor’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I enjoy interacting with a bunch of different people on a daily basis. My peers are wonderful. The work environment is great.  Facebook is looking to tackle big issues, and we feel we’re part of a big mission. It’s never a dull day, with something always going on.”

“A lot of smaller IT companies are contracted to do support.  A position at one of those is a great way to get into this industry. Many jobs are entry-level.  If you can troubleshoot computers give it a shot. A lot are willing to train people on the job if there’s a good cultural fit.”

“Berklee really pushes you–you develop a self-discipline that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. You’re focusing on this one thing (your instrument) so much that you develop a regimented way of figuring out any problem–you break down an issue piece by piece and figure out how to solve it and that’s a skill that can be applied to any profession.”

“Things worked out, but if otherberkleealumni.com had existed back when I graduated in 2009 I certainly would’ve been a lot less worried.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #139: Stanislas Barrault

Stanislas Barrault

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 13 min.) or download it.

 

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

 

Position:  Data Analyst/Consultant at Ekimetrics, a consulting firm that uses very sophisticated modeling and artificial intelligence to predict future sales for large businesses.   Stanislas, working with two more senior people, develops these statistical models, checking in with the client, then puts together a large presentation.  A typical project takes about 6 months and he’ll be working on 3-6 projects at any given moment.

 

Overview:  Stanislas planned to do business, and initially came to Berklee thinking he’d study music for one year before studying business, but determined that Berklee’s Music Business program would provide adequate business education for him to be prepared for pursuing a graduate degree into a top business school.  After graduating, Stanislas did a 5-month internship in New York at MGM, then returned home in early 2014 to Paris, France and spent several months studying extremely hard for the GMAT.  Doing well, he was accepted into the Masters of Science in Managment program at ESSEC, considered the #2 business school in France.  This 3 year program involved two 6-month internships, and is a bit more robust than a standard MBA.

After graduating, Stanislas was eager to improve his hard/technical skills, and had heard great things about Ekimetrics from family and friends.  He spent several months taking MOOC courses to learn more statistics, then his brother, who worked at an affiliated company, passed in his resume while friends who worked them prepared him for interviews.  He got the job in January, 2018, despite being one of extremely few people there with a business, rather than an engineering, degree.

 

You can see Stanislas’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:   “Every day I’m out of my comfort zone and learning. I have problems to solve and find ways to solve them. It can be frustrating, but when I’m done solving it it’s very enjoyable. I’m working in a very cool environment where people are relaxed but ultra-smart. ”

“ESSEC is a highly ranked school, so when you have this on your CV you can get nearly any interview you want, though once you’re at the interview you get the same hard questions as everybody else.”

“At Berklee I was doing every day what I loved the most. It was amazing, opened me to a lot of subjects. And that focused practice on music helped me be rigorous, disciplined and able to work autonomously–all of which I have had to be both at grad school and in my job.”

“Our models have r-squared values over 99%, and p-value less than 0.01. That’s why it takes so much time to do–our models have around 100 variables and we’re checking every single variable, making sure we’re unbiased, and so forth.”

“You have to be very proactive about your future and very objective about your situation and what the job market is expecting from you.  Pay attention to the real world, and the different industries where you might work. Find your strengths, understand that often it’s not enough and you need to specialize further and differentiate yourself. Ask yourself what you’er going to do after graduation starting in your very first year at Berklee.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #138: Elizabeth Ricci

Elizabeth Ricci

Listen to the interview (approx. 44 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2011 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  voice.

 

Position:  Project Manager at Capitol One, a national full-service bank that also does credit cards and car loans and has roughly 50,000 employees.  Elizabeth works on the Associate Experience Team, which supporting the 9 “cafes” (where customers do their banking online) in Boston, plus a number out of state.  She helps ensure that people are happy and have what they need to do their jobs well, collecting feedback and sending that to partner teams to seek improvements where appropriate.

Overview:   Elizabeth worked at Starbucks while at Berklee.  After graduation, she wanted to stay in Boston, but felt that a music career would be nearly impossible while here, so she decided to pursue a career at Starbucks.  Through hard work and good customer service she was promoted to shift manager, then shift supervisor, then, in early 2014 store manager.  However, after some time it was clear that open positions the next level up, district manager, were extremely few and far between and she would have to look elsewhere for career growth.

In mid-2015, a friend who worked at Capital One suggested that she apply for their Cafe Ambassador position.  Elizabeth did and not the job, which involved helping customers with their online banking, as well as a substantial increase in pay.   Her second year she won their Associate of the Year award, but she was most interested in project management.  She applied internally to one position and didn’t get it, but they soon created her current team and suggested she apply for her current position, which she got in early 2018.

You can see Elizabeth’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “It’s all about providing people with a solution they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I’m an escalation point. People have gone through all other options, and then they come to me, and I’m a ‘get stuff done-er.”

“I love when I can get something done quickly that people had been trying to do for months. I’m also fortunate to be able to work from home, travel. Capital One gives great benefits and I love my company and believe in the mission.”

“My position is new within the company.  With no predecessor; me and my two peers across the country are setting the precedent for what this job entails.”

“If you have any inkling of what you want to do for the rest of your life, just follow your passion–whether or not it’s music. You can accomplish anything if you put in the work and work hard.”

“When was a Berklee student I struggled hard trying to find if I was going to have a successful career if I wasn’t going to be in music. I’m glad this project exists.”

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.