Successful Berklee Alumni #167: Zacharias “ZJ” Olivarez III

ZJ Olivarez


Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 4 min.) or download it.


Graduated in 2011 with  a major in Composition.  Principal instrument:  guitar.


Position:  Engineer 2 – Product Technologist (technical support engineer) at Dell / EMC Technologies, a large, multinational tech firm based in Austin, Texas.  ZJ is on a team  of six that support the sales staff and helping get their enterprise (large business) customers’ systems properly configured.  ZJ answers many questions from sales / marketing people as well as helps clients.  When not answering questions, ZJ is in meetings, or is either giving or getting technical trainings.


Overview:  ZJ wanted try his luck in New York, so after a brief stint at home in Austin delivering pizzas and saving money, he moved to NYC, working for the better part of the year at Barnes and Noble, but the money was tight and he was homesick, so he moved back to Austin and lived at home while working as a line cook in a restaurant, as he was always interested in cooking.  But the pay was low and the hours were late and long, so after a year he followed his father’s career and got a job selling cars.  The money was good but highly variable, and the hours were long and exhausting, and there was always the stress of being let go if he didn’t meet his quota.  After about two  years, friends who worked at Dell encouraged him to get a job there, as both the pay and the work-live balance were better.  One of them recommending him for a technical sales job.

Although ZJ did not get that job, he reapplied about 6 months later and did get a technical sales position.  He did well, and after a year his boss offered him a choice:  continue to work in sales with a better territory, or switch into technical support.  ZJ was in the process of purchasing a home, and the reliability of a salaried position had a lot of appeal, so in late 2017 he switched to tech support as an Engineer-1.  He was promoted to engineer-2 in October, 2018.  (Ranks go 1, 2, senior, principal).


You can see ZJ’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes: “I like being that go-to person. If anyone has a question I either know it off the top of my head, or if not I’m an answer seeker doing my best to figure it out. It’s nice to be able to help the sales organization meet their numbers and close their deals.”

“I learn a lot from my peers. Del is very good about retaining employees, so many have huge seniority. I can go to them with a question, or for info about an old ‘legacy’ system. Each of us 6 on the team has our specialty. Mine is what they call hyper-conversion infrastructure and visualization. When we get a project, we figure out the exact needs. If multiple specialties are requred we’ll team together.”

“Berklee helped get me to where I am now. Being a musician, you learn about delayed gratification — you have to put in the work and time and dedication to become a musician. Same thing with composition — it’s a language of its own. Music made me a lot more detail-oriented”

“Tech is a vast industry. There are so many avenues you can take within it. In a big corporation, they nurture their internal talent, and you can follow your interests to that sector of the company.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.