Successful Berklee Alumni #187: Emma Fairholm

Emma Fairholm

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.

Successful Berklee Alumni #185: Dr. Sam Wood

Dr. Sam Wood

Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Production & Engineering. Principal instrument: guitar.

Position: Emergency Room Resident Physician at Reading Hospital in Pennsylvania, which has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the country. As of the interview, Dr. Sam Wood is halfway through his 3-year medical residency, “medical school 2.0” as he calls it, after which he will have his physicians license and expect to be hired, and compensated, as a full physician. He sees patients 45-50 hours per week, and also does a lot of medical lectures with the other residents at the hospital.

Overview: As he finished high school Sam got extremely sick and was all but incapacitated. Eventually doctors diagnosed him with lupus, and he recovered gradually. Feeling that life was short and he wanted to pursue his dreams, Sam transferred to Berklee and studied MP&E. However, by 2012 he started to question whether he really wanted to rely on music for money, and at the same time thought about how those doctors had made him so much better and his interest in physical fitness and how the body works, so Sam decided that he wanted to be a doctor.

The first step was doing an intense 10-month Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med Program at Goucher College, where he took all of the required science classes. After completing that, he moved back to Boston where he worked at a guy and as a resident advisor while applying to medical schools, and was accepted at the University of New England. He liked many of the medical fields, but wasn’t in love with any of them, until in his fourth year he did a rotation in an emergency room and loved how it was a bit of everything. Sam chose to apply to ten Emergency Room residencies, and match with Reading Hospital, his top choice. He received his M.D. in the spring of 2019 and stared the three-year residency a couple of months later, after a well-earned European backpacking trip.
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You can see Dr. Sam Wood’s LinkedIn profile here.
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Choice Quotes: “What I’m attracted to about being an emergency room doc is you have to be a jack of all trades but a master of none. You might go to 3 rooms in 15 minutes — one heart attack, one person who’s short of breath but doesn’t know why, and a woman having a baby. You have to quickly triage and treat them and make sure they’re stable and then figure out where they’re going to go. A surgeon is a master of their field and knows their patient well and has plenty of time to prepare for the surgery. An emergency room physician is more of a generalist. But we’re trained to handle the worst-case scenario. Another thing I love about being an ER doc is that I have a very broad set of skills that would be relevant in a random emergency.”

“One of my medical mentors, also a musician, said music is like any other modality. First you know nothing. then you learn the language (theory), then you combine that with stuttering (staring an instrument), then with experience the theory and playing meld into this unified understanding and new way to thing and apply thing. For me, science is like that — I still use medications that depend on the chemistry I had to learn years ago. Struggling with an instrument to the point I can play well has been big in assuring me that I will get a handle on science or whatever else.”

“My educational experiences after Berklee were like marathon. With no training if you had to run a marathon, that was Gaucher. At med. school the workload was much harder, but I was conditioned and trained to handle it.”

“If you are thinking about becoming a doctor, first off, know that it is possible. You’d be surprised how many people go into medicine from completely off-the-wall backgrounds. Also, find physicians who can understand your situation and give you guidance. I wouldn’t be here without those people in my life.”
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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #184: Kelli Kay

Kelli Kay
Listen to the interview or download it.

Graduated in 2012 from the Boston Conservatory with a degree in Musical Theater.

Position: Producer at Eastham Studios, an in-house production unit of Disney+. Kelli specializes in producing 30 – 60 second trailers for the station’s programs. These trailers are played both on the station and on social media and elsewhere as advertising. She spends around 40 hours on each trailer, meeting with the marketing team for what they want, giving feedback to the editors, then going through many iterations with the higher-ups until it receives final approval. In 2020, with new production shut down due to Covid-19, Kelli has been working on a Disney+ podcast and writing articles for Disney News.

Overview: Kelli was from near L.A., and decided to move home rather than go to New York. For the next two and a half year, she lived at home and worked multiple jobs to hack away at her 6-figure student debt while doing community theater and auditions. Her main job was at a small accounting firm where she did administrative and (one class later) bookkeeping work as well as producing ads for social media. In early 2015, a friend who was part of one of these ads suggested that Kelli consider working in production as he did, and let her “shadow” him for a day. She decided that production was the career she wanted to pursue, and with her debt down to a manageable level she got an apartment in L.A.

After a handful of volunteer production assistant gigs which she found on mandy.com, people started recommending her for paid work. Kelli initially worked in music videos, starting Production Assistant but later getting hired as a Production Coordinator. Over the next few years she moved from music videos to non-union commercials to union commercials, each time taking a demotion and small pay cut in order to get better opportunities, getting all gigs by word-of-mouth. In late 2017 a connection recommended Kelli for a long-term producer position at the “Disney Digital Network” (which later would become Disney+). She did that for over a year, but it was technically freelance and at Disney freelancers aren’t allowed to work more than 18 months. She found another position, then in late 2019 a full-time producer position opened up at her old Disney unit and, many grueling interviews later, she was hired into her job.

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You can see Kelli’s LinkedIn profile here.
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Choice Quotes: “I love that I use both sides of my brain in this job — the perfect blend of creativity and logistics. Also, like in theater, I get to work with a team toward a common goad — to tell a story.”

“What I got out of BoCo that helps me the most currently is the feedback process. In many classes we gave/received feedback on scenes to/from classmates. You learn to give sensitive notes, and also not to take things too personally.”

“There are so many opportunities out there. Don’t limit your idea of yourself to what you studied in college. Throw yourself into new experiences! To make it through BoCo or Berklee you had to be a self-starter and work hard and that’ll take you many places. It’s up to you where you want to go.”

“If you want to work in production, get on a set! People say you have to know someone to get into the industry, but you can go out there and make those connections. Do a really good job on set. Keep your ears open and be open-minded. There are so many things to do on a set; you’ll start to see the opportunities. Find someone and make them your friend. The more you’re on set in front of people and willing to do that hard work, the better!”

“People don’t talk about it much. But with the student loans, there’s an end in sight. There are good resources out there–personal finance blogs, etc. If you’re deep in debt, know that every dollar counts and celebrate the little victories and stay creative. Even if you divert careers, make sure that stays part of your life as that’s important too.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #183: Thompson Egbo-Egbo

Thompson Egbo-Egbo
Listen to the interview or download it.

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.

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You can see Thompson’s LinkedIn profile here.

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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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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #182: Caitlin Clifford

Successful Berklee Alumni #182: Caitlin Clifford

Caitlin Clifford

Listen to the interview or download it.

Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Business. Principal Instrument: voice.

Position: (Housing) Starts Coordinator at Toll Brothers, a large residential housing developer with thousands of employees nationwide. In this administrative role at their Houston branch office, Caitlin’s responsibility is to assemble all of the needed paperwork before construction — of individual houses or entire communities — can begin: blueprints, permits, foundation prints, energy reports, etc. She also assists her boss, the division manager, with anything he requires.

Overview: After finishing her internship in the spring of 2012, Caitlin moved back home to Houston, cognizant of her student debt and the high cost of living elsewhere. She took the summer off, then quickly applied and got a job at Music & Arts a division of Guitar Center that focuses on marching bands and orchestras, working on the sales floor. Early 2014 she was promoted to store manager. The next two years went well overall, though the transition to managing her former colleagues was a bit awkward. By 2016, however, Caitlin was looking to get out. She was tiring of the long hours and stress of retail, as well as the lack of potential for further career growth. Still working, she started applying widely for a new job, looking for “anything but retail”.

Caitlin had kept in touch with former employee, who had left to work for Toll Brothers. This woman noticed the opening for the administrative assistant job, assisting a manager, and recommended Kaitlin for it. Caitlin interviewed and was hired in September 2016. Sine then, her boss, whom she continues to assist, has been promoted, and her job has gradually come to specialize in housing starts, earning herself very good raises.

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You can see Caitlin’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: “I like being a part of so many different teams. Each community has its own people, and I get to be a part of all of them. I love being part of the new community startups, as I get to see everything and where it’s going. It’s exciting.”

“Much of my day is hounding my field managers for missing pieces of paperwork. Hurry up and wait. During that downtime I might have to reteach myself a publishing program to revamp a booklet, or whatever Then I get the paperwork and I just go.”

At Berklee I worked in the Student Employment Office and really liked it. It gave me great job skills, which I use even today — filling out W9s and knowing what an exemption is — stuff no one teaches you. Dealing with international students helps me deal with foreign buyers today — it’s something we train people for at my company.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It doesn’t help. Right after college I worried a lot about what I was going to do. There are so many jobs out there, in and out of music, more than you’re leaning about at school. It’s scary but OK if you don’t believe that music will be your main source of income, and it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do.–nobody does. Take your time to explore what’s out there, and fake it until you make it.


“I have a lot of fond memories from Berklee. I met lots of cool people, made great friends, and have lots of experiences that friends from high school never had. Take in as much as you can while you’re there. It’s not just music. It’s people, experiences, the city. Take advantage of it all!”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #181: Dan Berges

Dan Berges
Listen to the interview of download it.

Graduated in 2010 with a major in Performance. Principal instrument: guitar.

Position: Founder and Managing Director of the Berges Institute, a Spanish language school for adults who want to learn to speak Spanish, with branches in New York City and Chicago. Classes go for ten weeks, 90 minutes in class and a few hours of homework per week, and cost under $300. Students are taught to approach the language very logically and methodically. While Dan developed the materials and initially taught classes, he now focuses exclusively on the business end, where he does special projects and upgrades while his business partner focuses on the day-to-day operations.

Overview: From Madrid, Spain, Dan was allowed to work in the United States for one year after graduation. He taught music and gigged around Boston for a year, then moved to NYC where he did a 2-year Masters of Arts in Teaching Music from the Lehman School, part of the CUNY, finishing in the spring of 2013 While there, he made money as an independent Spanish tutor, and developed a lot of his own materials. Graduating, he senses that there was more demand for Spanish instruction than music instruction, and he would be able to stay in the United States on an investor visa if he started a Spanish language school that employed other people. He and his partner wrote up a business plan and, helped by a family loan, rented a space in midtown Manhattan. His visa was approved, and their first class started in August, 2013.

The first two years were stressful, and they were losing money. But they were constantly working to improve the business on all fronts. In 2015, everything turned around. Retention and referrals went up, and they were ranked higher by google. The business became profitable. Because so many of the practices were clearly laid out, in 2017 they opened a Chicago location. They currently have 24 employees, mostly instructors, but some administrative people.
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You can see Dan’s LinkedIn profile here.
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Choice Quotes: “I probably enjoyed teaching the most, and did a lot of it when we started. I liked all the interaction with people. Since it’s language learning you talk to people a lot and learn a lot about them. Right now, I enjoy the logical thinking and creativity that all this business optimization requires, as well as the variety.”

“From the beginning we tried to run the business in a franchise-like way: every process is super-documented and everything that can be automated is. This way, our classes resemble each other and people know what they’re getting. Once we had it all built, the NYC school didn’t need us to watch it all the time, so we figured we could ‘copy-paste’ the plan to open up in Chicago.”

“I work on different projects with some touch point with the customer, some training or recruiting process. A project might last for a few weeks or for months. At the beginning producing our textbooks were a big project. Now I’m designing one-day workshops. I’m also designing our whole database management system–that one i huge!”

“We give a lot of very personalized training to our instructors. The most important characteristic for an instructor is how personable you can be. It’s of course important that they can teach the grammar and can explain it well.”

“As a performance major I’d have to practice many hours, which requires self-discipline. That self-discipline helps with how I approach projects today.”

“Try to be realistic regarding what the markets are. For example, the performance market just isn’t a very lucrative industry. Be honest and don’t try to rationalize certain decisions by making up how the industry is when that’s not real. Really understand it in terms of numbers and plan your career accordingly.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

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.
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You can see Chris’s LinkedIn profile here.
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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.
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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

Successful Berklee Alumni #177: Scott Vojik

Scott Vojik

Listen to the interview of download it.

Graduated in 2016 with a major in Music Business. Principal instrument: drums.

Position: Software engineer at TRED, a tech startup that facilitates the sale of used cars between individuals, bypassing dealerships — and thus getting the seller a better price — while eliminating the risk and hassle involved in the transaction. The most junior employee on the 8-person team, Scott focuses on internally-used features. Though at his small company, engineers are expected to handle every aspect of the development process, including design and quality assurance.

Overview: After finishing Berklee in August, 2016, Scott moved to Nashville and rented a house with his bandmates, also recent Berklee grads. He worked as a valet during the day for money and the band gave it a go, but after several months the band broke up. A new housemate worked for ASCAP, and Scott wanted to put his Music Business degree to use, so through that connection he got a job as a licensing associate — effectively a sales job. After several months, he was able to work from home. Scott missed Seattle, where he was from, so after one year in Nashville Scott moved to Seattle, still working remotely for ASCAP. Scott found his job not very challenging, and wanted to work at a fast-moving startup. He looked at job listings, and after a few months in Seattle found a listing for a sales job at TRED. Always passionate about cars, he found the job very attractive, applied, and was hired. After several months, he received a minor promotion from sales to transaction management — essentially facilitating the last stage of the sale.

In the transaction management role, Scott would correspond with the developers regarding how to improve the software and what features would help, and he decided he might want to move into a tech role. During the spring of 2018 he’d get up at 5:30 am and spend 60-90 minutes coding, taking advantage of Free Code Camp and Codecademy., determining what this was what he wanted to do. Unable to go to U-Washington because he already had a Bachelors degree, Scott left his job at TRED in July, 2018 to do an intense, remote, 9-month program at Lambda School, attracted to their guarantee that you didn’t pay a cent of tuition until you got a well-paying job. While in this 9-months program, Scott kept in touch with TRED. Most of the way through his program, they gave him a tech internship. As his program was nearly done and he was interviewing with other employers, Scott made it clear that he needed to earn a salary and TRED hired him into his current job.
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You can see Scott’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: “Software engineering is as as creative as playing an instrument. I like having the power at my fingertips to build what I want. I also like the lifestyle that comes with being a software engineer — no dress code. Also, I’m introverted. I did fine in sales, but that job took a lot out of me — this role suits me better.”

“Berklee prepared me better for my career than a traditional school. One of the biggest things Berklee taught me was work ethic and determination. Seeing people grind in the practice rooms for 10 hours/day inspired me a lot. I took that dedication to heart in all aspects of life.”

“If you’re thinking about a software engineering career, try it out and see if you like it. It sounds almost too good to be true to get a good job after only 9 months of school, but it’s a ton of work — more intense than Berklee! Also, to succeed in it, you’ve got to like it. Start with the free stuff. I chose Lambda for the structure, but it’s out there for free. You can learn it, but it’s like learning instruments, though. you have to go at it hard every day, not just noodle around once or twice a week.”
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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.