Successful Berklee Alumni #171: William Wetzel

William Wetzel
Listen to the interview (approx. 55 min or download it.

Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Production & Engineering (MP&E). Principal instrument: voice.

Position: Data Scientist (software engineer) at Spreetail, an e-commerce company with around 750 employees that purchases goods from manufacturers and then sells them to consumers online on Amazon and other online platforms. Williams is on a 2-person (plus sometimes an intern) Machine Learning team. He builds online tools used internally to model sales, such as how many of an item they expect to sell at a given price.

Overview: After graduation, William moved to L.A. looking to work in music studios. He got a job at the well-known studio The Village, first as a runner, promoted to assistant engineer 1.5 years later. Over the next year he worked with big-name acts, but one day he heard the studio owner say that “If it ever stops being cool to work in music with famous people, then this job is not for you.” and he realized that that’s how he felt. He put in notice and left, initially planning to work part-time and work in music as a freelancer. William searched for part-time work, and got a part-time job with Star Education, teaching computer classes to children after school, while also doing some freelance music gigs. After 3 months, William was offered, and accepted, a full-time position at Star Education: developing, administering, and teaching coding & robotics classes.

That went well, but by 2016 William realized he really wanted a well-paying career where he had in-demand skills, and that meant going back to school. Being from Nebraska, he got to pay in-state tuition there, so in the fall of 2016 he entered the program for a Masters in Management Information Systems at the University of Nebraska, graduating in the spring of 2018. While there he did a couple of well-paying internships, the second of which turned into a full-time job after graduation at this tech consulting firm. After most of a year, Will felt that he wanted to work at a corporation rather than a consulting firm so that he could focus on projects longer term, so he looked for more opportunities. He found and was hired into his current position in February, 2019.

You can see William’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes: “I like solving problems in code, getting to write code, and see what I’ve conceptualized come to life and add value to a business. It’s like creating little soldiers who once you create them just go off on their own and work producing value, like magic.”

“I do about 50 hour/week in the office, but I’m also dedicated to being in software & data science. I spend every Saturday and Sunday in the library learning. I’m currently doing a machine learning Coursera course. I’m a big learner, and with machine learning, but it feels like there’s an enormous number of things still to learn. ”

At Berklee I learned how to package a deliverable in a way that’s pleasing to people. With music you’re making a product for people to enjoy, and have to keep that in mind, and similarly I try to make the product I’m making now enjoyable to use.”

If your’e 21 and haven’t had a full-time job you just got to go out and figure stuff out by trying different things. In music I saw people around me where it was clear they loved it and were in the right place, and they were better than me. I realized that I wasn’t in the right place, so I tried something else. “

“If you want to work in software, what you need most is the experience of working at a company. The real world problems you face are so different than in the educational setting. Whatever you can do to get a couple years of experience is worth it. Also, just like in music, having a robust portfolio helps. There will be a couple years of just grinding and not being sure what you’re doing and you just have to get through that.”



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.