Graduated in 2011 with a major in Electronic Production & Design. Principal instrument: piano.
Position: Banking advisor at the Royal Bank of Canada, a very large Canadian bank with branches overseas and roughly 80,000 employees. Thompson helps customers with opening accounts, refinancing mortgages, and other loans. Ultimately he’d like to get into commercial real estate lending.
Overview: After finishing Berklee in December of 2011, Thompson spent most of a year in Greece. It was fun, but the economy was terrible, so he moved back home to Toronto and got a place with friends. For the next 5 years, he supported himself playing piano, doing many restaurant and hotel gigs as well as some teaching. He also served as a volunteer on the board of a human services nonprofit which had helped him as a kid. However, at some point he started to feel like he wasn’t an artist, as he was just doing cover songs, and felt like if he wasn’t being creative with music then he may as well do anything for money. He scraped together some money and recorded and original album, and also started to explore other career avenues. In late 2016 someone he knew on the nonprofit board helped him get a job with a very small commercial real estate firm. He worked there for two years, but wasn’t mentored very well, and toward the end the company was acquired by a large multinational firm and he felt lost in the shuffle.
Gigging more and exploring career options, another member of the nonprofit board suggested that he look into banking and connected him with someone at the Royal Bank of Canada. Thompson not only appreciated the work-life balance (which would allow for evening gigs), but also that he’d learn about finance and be well-positioned for a number of good careers. He was hired into his current position in August, 2019.
You can see Thompson’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “People thought I wanted to work at a bank because I didn’t want to do music anymore, but no, it is to round myself out. I understand finance better and that will help me as a musician because now I can be more strategic about my music. “
“At the bank I have enjoyed the work itself. I enjoy a lot of the learning. I deal with clients and explain credit and how it works and wish I’d known this years ago.”
“At a bank, a promotion often means you’re doing the same thing, only the dollar amounts are larger.”
At Berklee you see so much variety and diversity of music that you lean not to pidgeonhole thing but to really explore all of the possibilities. That way of thinking has really helped in my job.
Take that next step in your career sooner rather than later. You can’t be creative on an empty stomach. Try out different things and see if they work out. If not that’s OK you still learned something. I’d been feeling like music was playing too many roles in my life. Removing the pressure on music to pay my rent helped me focus on what parts of music work better for me.
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