Successful Berklee Alumni #179: Chris Hansen

Chris Hansen

Graduated in 2010 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: guitar.

Position: Executive Recruiter at Century Group, a recruiting/staffing firm specializing in finance and accounting professionals in the Bay Area. Specializing in placing upper level employees in permanent positions, Chris works both ends in this commission-based job: developing business by cold-calling companies to see if they could use help finding people, and finding appropriate people to fill these positions.

Overview: Chris started teaching guitar at a local (San Francisco) music school while in high school and continued to do so during breaks while at Berklee. Upon graduating, Chris was offered more hours, and elected to go that route rather than tour, in part because he suffered from tendinitis. For for years he was an “entrepreneurial musician” — teaching, gigging with corporate bands, working as a sideman and even scoring music for a film. But his income wasn’t great, hours were awkward, and debt was piling up and his tendinitis was giving him trouble, so he elected to branch out. He spend an hour each day applying to part-time positions, and got one selling memberships at a spa where he could work mornings. For the next year and a half he worked around 100 hours each week (!) until he was out of debt and had built up some extra money, then he put in his notice at both jobs and looked for something new.

A random conversation with the manager of a clothing store where he was shopping lead to a job as an assistant manager in the fall of 2015, then in the spring of 2016 he got a better opportunity: a bandmate was a manager a workers comp. processing firm that needed another clerk, and Chris was hired. In early 2017 he gave a friend good advice on how to land a job she would be interviewing for at a recruiting firm. She got the job, then encouraged him to apply for a similar position. The pay was better, so he took the job. He worked there until the spring of 2019, when he was recruited into his current job.
You can see Chris’s LinkedIn profile here.

Choice Quotes: “I enjoy being able to work with people in a way that’s focused on them. Teaching guitar was incredibly gratifying when I really could help someone move to the next level in what they’re trying to accomplish. As a recruiter, I help someone reach that next level in their career — pay, commute, benefits, corporate culture. And it feels the same. It works similarly when helping out a company that’s in a hard spot. Helping them find that employee / leader they really need who can help fix some issue they’re struggling with. I also enjoy a challenge, learning new things (in this case, the world of finance & accounting, which underlies every other business). “

“Go out and work hard, but also work smart. It’s not ‘work smarter not harder’, It’s both figuring out how to work smarter, then work harder at that than anybody else.”

“I’d consider myself an introvert, but at Berklee, getting up on stage & performing, jamming/performing with others, collaborating, networking with everyone really helped develop me and my confidence, self image, and people skills. Also, Berklee was an environment where you’re excited about meeting others, you want to learn what’s being taught — that helped my desire to learn, and set me up for continued learning & growth. “

One thing that really helped me was flipping the question. Rather than parents/teachers asking what we wanted to be: what we like/enjoy/are good at. But I was asked instead “How do you want to live?” Then find avenues that will produce that for you. And if you figure out the right profession, absolutely go for it!”

“If you want to be a recruiter, do what recruiters do and recruit! Go out on social media etc. Find folks who work at recruiting firms and reach out to them, visit in person if possible. (This applies to non-recruiter job, too!) If you can be energetic and thorough in reaching out to them, that tells them you’ll be similarly energetic and thorough as a recruiter. Even if they don’t have a role, if you impress them they may keep you in mind for other opportunities.



See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #178: Stephanie Caballero

Stephanie Caballero

Gradated from BoCo in 2012 with a major in Musical Theater.

Position: Senior Community Engagement and Program Manager at the NYC branch of Reading Partners, a nationwide nonprofit that focuses on helping elementary schoolchildren who are behind on reading get caught up. Stephanie’s hybrid job has different aspects. On the community side, she goes to local events and recruits volunteers. As a program manager, she works with the volunteer tutors at every school, making sure they have the resources they need, and fills in herself as a tutor to help assess the needs of more challenging students. She also does a lot of administrative tasks including managing the data of students they work with.

Overview: Shortly after graduating from BoCo, Stephanie moved to New York and started auditioning for theater roles, while waiting tables to pay the bills. Over the next year and a half, she got some very small / unpaid work, but nothing big came her way, and she was hustling less than many of her counterparts and eventually realized that it wasn’t really what she wanted. She recalled working with children in summer camp while in high school, and thought she’s try teaching. Still waiting tables, Stephanie got a job teaching theater to middle school children in the Bronx, and some substitute teaching gigs. Wanting to go full-time into teaching, but reluctant to go into more student debt, she applied in early 2015 to be an Americorps volunteer (receiving a modest stipend). In August, 2015 she started her stint, and was connected with Reading Partners, working as a literacy volunteer in the New York schools.

Still in Americorps, Stephanie applied and was accepted into the Teach for America program, which places people nationwide in school systems that serve underprivileged students to teach. She was placed in Baltimore and spent two years there teaching fourth-grade English, while taking classes and earning her Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins University, Upon graduating and finishing, Stephanie moved back to NYC. She wanted to work in education, but ideally not as a classroom teacher. Her former supervisor at Reading Partners informed Stephanie that she was leaving and invited her to apply for that position, which she got. Soon after, her job broadened to encompass the community side of things as well.

You can see Stephanie’s LinkedIn profile here.

Choice Quotes: “I love working with children, and in a very underprivileged community. I wanted to support them and give them better opportunities. I wish my work didn’t exist and these folks were not disadvantaged, but my work to close that gap feels very meaningful.”

My BoCo training made me be very good speaking in front of crowds, thinking on my feet, and using my brain in a creative way. I incorporate movement and rhyme into the classroom as it helps kids learn better. But the biggest thing is all the stuff I learned in acting classes about motivation & communication. That helps me listen to people and understand what’s important to them, so that I know how to support them. Also, consciously change my communication style based on whom I’m speaking with to make them feel the most heard.”

“Just go out and try whatever your’e wondering about — that’s the way you can truly know if it’s for you. Music and acting will always be there. Also, even if you want to be a performer, set yourself up for success by having multiple plans. Get a day job, preferable a good one that’s important to you, so that you’re happy while auditioning.”

“I couldn’t have imagined my life as it is now, but I’m really grateful that it took this turn. It’s no easier than when I was auditioning, but it’s the place I should be in.”

See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni