Successful Berklee Alumni #187: Emma Fairholm

Emma Fairholm
Listen to the interview or download it.

Graduated in 2017 with a major in Music Business. Principal instrument: flute.

Position: (In-house) Counsel at Key Capture Energy, a firm that develops, builds, and operates utility-scale storage systems (typically battery based) for clean energy projects. She is one of two lawyers at this company, which has a bit over 40 employees. Emma attends meetings, proofreads documents, approves which documents can be shared internally, and also makes sure finance-related documents are in order.

Overview: Her interest piqued by law-related classes in the Music Business program, Emma started considering a career in entertainment early in her Berklee career, and got more serious by her third year. She did a marketing internship at a law firm, took the LSATs and applied to law schools in her 4th year, getting into the University of New Hampshire’s Law School, which she liked because it was small and had a highly-rated intellectual property program. She graduated from Berklee in the spring of 2017, and started law school that fall. At law school, she did some good internships, including for the Smithsonian Institution, dealing with performances and art acquisition — by the time she was halfway through law school Emma was less focused on music than working with creatives in general.

Her final semester, spring 2020, Emma got a legal internship at a small personal-injury law firm, and she found she enjoyed that very much too. She was in a special program that let her pass the bar before graduation, and her internship became a full-time job, but between the pandemic and the company being reorganized Emma was let go in June. She reached out to a faculty whom she knew, hoping for any job leads. The faculty had recently heard from Emma’s now-boss at Key Capture Energy, who wanted an intern, and encouraged Emma to apply. Emma interviewed and really liked it. Initially hired as a contractor six-months, Emma worked really hard and was offered a full-time position and a pay increase in October, 2020.
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You can see Emma’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: “Being an in-house corporate attorney is less stressful than being at a big law firm. You’re managing projects, not juggling clients who each have a different set of expectations and are in crisis. At my company, everything is interesting. I learn something new every day. The people here are great and always willing help me. The company started in 2016 and they’re trying to run like a startup and keep a community feeling. When I started, people made time just to talk and say hi.”

“Law school is a lot, it’s not what you think it’s going to be. That scene in Legally Blonde where you’re being called on day 1 of class and are expected to have done the reading and be able to explain it, that’s how they teach. Very Socratic method. You really need to study and be ready for that.”

“My first two years of law school I had to stand up and argue a case in front of a judge. If I hadn’t performed at Berklee I never would’ve been able to do it, but thanks to Berklee I was able to switch into my performance-mindset and make it through.”


“Follow your gut. I questioned myself every step of the way, and still do. But if it’s what you want to do, go for it. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out and you find something else to do.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #186: Gustavo Beaujardin

Gustavo Beaujardin

Graduated in 2017 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: Percussion. Note; Gustavo received his diploma from Berklee in 2001.

Position: Retail Store Manager at Conn’s Homeplus, which sells furniture, appliances, and electronics with almost 200 locations across the United States. Gustavo manages roughly 15 employees at his store location.

Overview: When Gustavo first went to Berklee, he chose to do music courses exclusively in order to start his music career as soon as possible. After graduation, he gigged around for years in different locations and ended up in L.A. doing many corporate and jazz gigs. But he battled a drug addition, having been in bands with people who used drugs, and in 2008 he “hit bottom” He spent the next few years focusing on himself and recovery, moved back home to Florida and worked a variety of non-music jobs, eventually ending up at a music retail store working his way up into a leadership position. Gustavo really enjoyed sales, and wanted to go into a retail managerial position, but that meant getting an MBA, which in turn meant finishing his bachelors degree.

Gustavo kept working at this store, while in 2013 he started Berklee’s Degree Completion Program part-time, taking classes through Berklee Online as well as remote one-on-one lessons. He applied to business schools as he was finishing up, and went straight from finishing Berklee into a 2.5-year part-time MBA program at Florida International University., which he finished in March, 2020. He had discovered Conn’s and had been interviewing for a while, so went straight from finishing business school into a job as an assistant store manager. After six months, Gustavo indicated that he wanted a promotion, and was wiling to “go anywhere.” He was promoted into his current job.
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You can see Gustavo’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: “It’s quite a fun job that’s mostly face-to-face interactions with employees and customers. Running operations, managing people, managing the inventory that comes in and out.”

“A lot of my success is because before I get to the store I’m[ already checking emails, making sure things are running properly, so that when I get to the store I’m already caught up and am not bombarded or blindsided, so I’m not distracted from making it a great day.”

“At Berklee you’re surrounded by creative people 24/7. I try to use that creativity in my current role. It makes me a different kind of leader and thinker.”

“Whatever you decide to do, persistence and determination and focus are paramount. Failures will turn into opportunities — the mistakes that I made redirected my career. The bottom line is you’re going to make mistakes and may not end up where you thought. You’ve got to keep an open mind. Be humble, and be flexible.”

“If you want to be a retail store manager, know that at the end of the day it’s people leadership, so a strong focus on interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, people development — study these things! Take some public speaking courses to get the communication skills you’ll need to communicate your vision to your team properly. Also, it’s a demanding job where the work/life balance isn’t the best. Don’t put too much on your plate.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.