Listen to the interview (approx. 42 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2018 (left Berklee in 2017), with a major in Music Business. Principal instrument: Percussion.
Position: Payroll Operations Specialist at Whole Foods, the large grocery chain, working at its corporate headquarters in Austin, Texas. Part of a six-person team that covers the entire country, Omar’s job involves lots of troubleshooting and making sure everything is running smoothly for the local “Payroll Benefits Specialists.” Omar deals with issues that come up–missing paychecks, incorrect amounts, pay for terminated employees and the like. Omar also audits payroll information, verifying accuracy and looking for errors to correct.
Overview: Omar applied to Berklee while in high school and was accepted, but he ended up staying in Texas and worked, mostly in temp jobs, for about 5 years, getting married during that time. He did some work in a payroll department. The birth of his daughter made him want to get his degree, so he went to the University of Texas at Austin initially, then transferred to Berklee as that had been his dream. By late 2017 he was near graduation and he and his family moved back to Austin, and while he looked for a position in the music industry he signed up with a temp agency to get some work right away. They placed him at Whole Foods, in a different administrative position.
After several months of working there and being impressed by the positive work envirnoment–and no luck finding a good job in music–Omar decided that a career at Whole Foods was a good option. His boss, meanwhile, wanted to hire him as a regular employee. They gave Omar a 4-month leave of absence to finish his degree (online); once that was complete in the spring of 2018 he gave them a call and in less than a week he was working at his current job.
You can see Omar’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “I love working with numbers–I’m a numbers guy. It’s natural to get lost in doing the work and have the day just fly by. . I like knowing that you can depend on me that you’ll get your money on time to pay your bills, feed your family or whatever you need. It’s a great family to know I’m part of that.”
“When I get to work in the morning, it’s always a ‘surprise’ to find about 200 emails with questions from paychecks to upcoming checks to people going on vacation and making sure it’s in the system. I spend those first one or two hours answer emails and putting out fires. ”
“I was a major introvert pre-Berklee. Berklee got me out of my shell. It helped me with public speaking, with collaborating with others. To work on projects on other people, learn to work together as a group. It did wonders.”
“Don’t be afraid to go and look beyond what you’re comfortable with. Don’t settle just because something is what think you should be doing. Think about what toher ways you can contribute. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket–there are so many possibilities as to what you can do!”
“Going to Berklee was a dream come true to me. Even though I’m not in the music industry, it helped build relationships I’ll cherish the rest of my life. It prepared me to go out there and deliver and make sure I give a top product and not just go through the motions. I’m grateful to have gone through that.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.