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.

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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.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #170: Arielle Guitar

Arielle Guitar
Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 3 min.) or download it.

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


Position: Event Coordinator (Project Manager) at David Stark Design and Production, an event production company in New York City with close to 100 employees. They put of events ranging from large weddings and celebrations to nonprofit galas and corporate parties and store openings. As the event coordinator, Arielle works on a team of 6 or 7 and handles all of the team’s administrative details: finding and lining up vendors such as furniture rentals, caterers, audio-visual services, etc. Also communicating with the graphic designers to make sure they have everything they need, and maintaining the budget for every project. On actual event days, she’ll work 18+ hours, coordinating the set up and take down and making sure everything goes smoothly.


Overview: Arielle finished Berklee in 3 years and moved home to L.A., feeling burned out on music. She quickly found a job at a restaurant working as a hostess and helping with events, staying for two and a half years because was very comfortable. Finally, she was ready to work in music, and through a referral got a job at CAA (Creative Artists Agency), where she assisted an agent who booked famous musicians for private parties/events. Arielle worked there for two years, but knew it wouldn’t be her long-term career, as she didn’t want to be an agent and wanted to live in New York City. So in 2015 she left her job and got a sublet in New York.

It took her under two weeks to find a job, as someone she’s known as CAA helped her get hired at an agency that hires musical acts for events. It was a good job, except that it was located in Westchester County, with a 2-hour commute each way! After 8 months, Arielle was ready for something new. Again through someone she’d known at CAA she got a job at an event production company, but it was freelance and after the busy season things started to slow down. A colleague referred her to a private club to be an event coordinator there, putting on parties, trips, etc, which she did for over two years, until a chance meeting with a family friend led to a referral to David Stark. They met and discussed her career prospects, and Arielle took her current job as the company has a top reputation and a position involving more creativity and the potential for growth.


You can see Arielle’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: “The biggest part of my job is being very organized and staying on top of all the details until the event happens. We’re constantly revising our pitch decks, from graphic designers having to tweak things, Communicating with the venue, scheduling site visits, making sure graphics are up to date. Sorting through products and noting our inventory. It’s a lot to keep track of, and no two days are the same, but that makes it fun.” “Beyond the variety, there’s nothing better than being part of a team that plans these evenings. Start from nothing and build and exciting even for people. It’s a lot of work and hours, but it’s really rewarding to see these events come to life.”

“It’s totally OK to not have that music job or that ‘perfect’ first job. It’ll inevitably lead to other experience and learning other stuff. If yo’re willing to break away and learn new things you can do well in a new field.”

“If you’re considering this as a career, an internship is really helpful. It’ll give you that experience and also help you figure out if it’s really what you want to do, including if you can deal with the occasional extremely long day. You have to get the bug for it. I find it very fulfilling–you’ll quickly figure out if it’s for you.”

“The biggest skills in my job are being organized and detail-focused. Graduating early made me good at time management and figuring out all the details on what I needed to get done. That felt similar.”

“I rent rehearsal space and still take voice lessons. That is my time to focus on music and practicing and stay connected to that part of my life.”


See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #169: Joe Granata


Listen to the interview (approx. 56 min.) or download it

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

Position: Strategic Account Manager (officially Account Manager 2) at Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer. Joe works in the advertising operation, on the search side. So he works with large clients including Microsoft and Google to ensure that they are meeting their targets when people search for their relevant products on the Amazon website. His job consists of corresponding with his clients by email and phone, the occasional visit to deliver a presentation, keeping up with new developments at his company, and analyzing the data from his clients’ advertising activities.

Overview: While at Berklee, Joe learned how to do websites with HTML in a class, and made a bit of side money building / maintaining websites for local businesses. The year after graduation, he stayed in Boston and continued on with that, did some music, and applied without success to music industry and other professional jobs (2010 was a tough year to graduate). After a year, a friend got him a job co-managing a menswear store in New York City, and he moved. He enjoyed that job, and still did websites on the side, but after a few years grew weary of the work schedule (long hours often involving weekends and evenings) and the mediocre pay, so he searched in Indeed for new opportunities and applied. Joe’s experience doing websites and working in clothing got him hired at a subsidiary of Amazon, now called Shopbop, which did flash online sales, arranging the display of the products on the screen.

Amazon encourages people to follow their preferred career path within the company. After two years Joe switched into account management advertising, helping clients put ads on Amazon. He was promoted from level 1 to level 2 in December 2017, then in early 2018 he decided that he was ready for a change of setting, so he moved to Seattle, transferring to a similar job at Amazon’s corporate headquarters.


You can see Joe’s LinkedIn profile here.


Choice Quotes: “I love working face to face with clients to help them achieve their goals. I used to help auto-industry clients, and it was fun to see cool projects. Also, Amazon is a great place to work, with brilliant people ready to help and an entrepreneurial spirit where everyone is listened to.”

I can’t emphasize enough the value of networking. Go meet a diverse set of people across many industries. That’s helped bridge the gap and got my foot in the door. These large companies get hundreds of thousands of resumes, so you need something on top of that.

If you want to work in account management, start from the basics. Get good with the Microsoft Office suite, especially Excel. Also familiarize yourself with the advertising world and be aware of the new trends.



Joe with his guitar. “I’ve kept up my chops. Seattle is such a music city. So many different styles of music happening all over the place. My goal for 2019 is to find a band to play with.”
Joe in front of Mt. Rainier ” “My experience at Berklee was extremely challenging but the first time in my life I felt like I’d really achieved sometime to graduate. Without my Berklee experience I’m not sure if I”d have developed the level of discipline needed to succeed in these other roles.”


See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #168: Andrew Silverio

Andrew Silverio

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Listen to the interview (approx. 48 min.) or download it.

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

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Position:  Compliance and Oversight Counsel (in-house corporate attorney) at The Phia Group, a medical consulting firm based in the Massachusetts which provides guidance to companies which do health insurance in-house.  Andrew’s specialty is knowing all the different regulations and thereby assessing what strategies will and will not be legal.  His time is split roughly evenly between larger projects and answering random questions sent his way each day.

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Overview.  A couple of years into Berklee, Andrew felt that a music career was precarious and had no guarantee of success even if you do everything right.  He wanted a career with a better shot at being financially comfortable.  His aunt, a lawyer, suggested he consider law school, given how he was very logical and liked to debate.  Andrew took a practice LSAT and really enjoyed it.  He took the LSAT and applied to law school while still at Berklee, getting a scholarship to attend Suffolk University Law School in Boston.  Andrew finished Berklee in May, 2010, took it easy that summer, and started that program in September of that year, figuring he’d specialize in Intellectual Property (“IP”) and be an entertainment lawyer.

Andrew did specialize in IP, but he also took some classes in health law and was on the school’s Health Journal.  He figured that health was a good prospect if IP didn’t work out.  Graduating in the spring of 2013 and taking (and passing) the Bar Exam a few months later, Andrew started job hunting in earnest, focusing on the IP and Health fields.  It was a tough job market, flooded with newly-minted lawyers.  He applied to a position in the Phia Group in late 2014, but didn’t get the job.  however, in the spring of 2014, they called him back as they had another position open.  Hired as a consultant working with their customers, Andrew gradually specialized in compliance regulations.  In late 2018 he asked the higher-ups for a new job title that reflected his specialty, and received both that and a raise.

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You can see Andrew’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes:  “What I like most about my job is “theres always something new to do, a new questino to answer. Admittedly after 5 years you see some questions over and over again. But you still get surprised sometimes, even when the rules are old, but a new combination comes up. Also, people are very resourceful in terms of saving money and want to know if it’s compliant. Sometimes it’s like ‘Congratulations. You re-invented insurance fraud.’ but sometimes it’s a really cool, workable idea!”

“If you want to be a lawyer, I’d really recommend a LSAT prep course.  Also, first year law school is very intense — it’s a TON of reading. If you can’t just sit down and read for 6 hours straight, don’t do it.  That said, I was diagnosed with ADD as a kid, but the real issue was lack of interest. Once I’m interested in something, I can study for hours on end.””

“To be successful as a lawyer, you want to make sure you’re the type of person that can consistently value being really thorough. Look under every rock even if you think the first rock gave you the answer.  It’s not just answering a question, it’s about ruling out every other possible answer.  If that sound bothersome or tedious, then maybe this career is not for you.”

“Keep an open mind about your options — don’t fixate on one thing. When you come to a fork in the road, think about the next fork in the road. Will door A only give you one path, while door B allows you to make different choices? Go for the one that will give you more flexiblity in the future. “

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Andrew at Berklee.  “One of the great things about music is you can do it anywhere, anytime, with anybody. …I play in a band these days called ‘Titans of Industry’.  It’s an important hobby to me that I get a lot of joy from.”

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Andrew hiking with his dog.  “Psychologically my Berklee experience helped me a lot. I was much more laid back and easy-going about it all than most of my law school peers. I took my work seriously, but didn’t take myself to seriously.   Anyone doing music understands that you need to put in the work before you get good.  That helped me not spiral into a ball of stress..”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #167: Zacharias “ZJ” Olivarez III

ZJ Olivarez

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 4 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2011 with  a major in Composition.  Principal instrument:  guitar.

 

Position:  Engineer 2 – Product Technologist (technical support engineer) at Dell / EMC Technologies, a large, multinational tech firm based in Austin, Texas.  ZJ is on a team  of six that support the sales staff and helping get their enterprise (large business) customers’ systems properly configured.  ZJ answers many questions from sales / marketing people as well as helps clients.  When not answering questions, ZJ is in meetings, or is either giving or getting technical trainings.

 

Overview:  ZJ wanted try his luck in New York, so after a brief stint at home in Austin delivering pizzas and saving money, he moved to NYC, working for the better part of the year at Barnes and Noble, but the money was tight and he was homesick, so he moved back to Austin and lived at home while working as a line cook in a restaurant, as he was always interested in cooking.  But the pay was low and the hours were late and long, so after a year he followed his father’s career and got a job selling cars.  The money was good but highly variable, and the hours were long and exhausting, and there was always the stress of being let go if he didn’t meet his quota.  After about two  years, friends who worked at Dell encouraged him to get a job there, as both the pay and the work-live balance were better.  One of them recommending him for a technical sales job.

Although ZJ did not get that job, he reapplied about 6 months later and did get a technical sales position.  He did well, and after a year his boss offered him a choice:  continue to work in sales with a better territory, or switch into technical support.  ZJ was in the process of purchasing a home, and the reliability of a salaried position had a lot of appeal, so in late 2017 he switched to tech support as an Engineer-1.  He was promoted to engineer-2 in October, 2018.  (Ranks go 1, 2, senior, principal).

 

You can see ZJ’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes: “I like being that go-to person. If anyone has a question I either know it off the top of my head, or if not I’m an answer seeker doing my best to figure it out. It’s nice to be able to help the sales organization meet their numbers and close their deals.”

“I learn a lot from my peers. Del is very good about retaining employees, so many have huge seniority. I can go to them with a question, or for info about an old ‘legacy’ system. Each of us 6 on the team has our specialty. Mine is what they call hyper-conversion infrastructure and visualization. When we get a project, we figure out the exact needs. If multiple specialties are requred we’ll team together.”

“Berklee helped get me to where I am now. Being a musician, you learn about delayed gratification — you have to put in the work and time and dedication to become a musician. Same thing with composition — it’s a language of its own. Music made me a lot more detail-oriented”

“Tech is a vast industry. There are so many avenues you can take within it. In a big corporation, they nurture their internal talent, and you can follow your interests to that sector of the company.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #166: Henry Leitzinger

Henry Leitzinger

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 6 min.) or download it.

 

Left Berklee in 2012 (officially graduated in 2014) with a major in Professional Music.  Principal instrument:  piano.

Position:  Managing Director of Homebrella, a home insurance company in France selling renters insurance, focusing on younger people and non-natives, part of the Admiral Insurance Group.  Henry was hired to start this sub-corporation, which launched in early 2019.  He came up with the strategic plan and hired the necessary people (starting with around 12, up to 30 less than 6 months later).  He focuses on the strategic direction of the company, personnel issues, and making sure work with corporate partners is going well.  Henry has the support of the Admiral Group, but he functions much like an entrepreneur.

Overview:  After leaving Berklee in May 2012, Henry moved home to L.A., where he hung out a lot and gigged a bit, but he was feeling under-challenged and worried he’d stagnate.  He realized he could finish his Liberal Arts courses for a semester at The Sorbonne University in Paris (for 400 Euros!), where he could learn a new language and hopefully do well in the music scene, so he moved to Paris at the end of August.  He enjoyed Paris, and was doing well in the music scene, so he stayed.  For the next two years, he cobbled together a living gigging, playing in a wedding band, teaching music classes and private lessons.  But by late 2014 Henry was starting to feel burned out — it was becoming less fun, and the income was unpredictable, so he started to explore other options.  He found an ad for a job in online marketing, wanting someone bilingual, and contacted the company, asking for an internship for 6 months (with a possible job after that if everything looked good).

That 6 month internship led to a job, Over the next 3 years, Henry was promoted twice, to where he was handling the social media accounts for huge corporations.  However, Henry had risen as far as he could at this small firm, and since he liked business and strategy, he decided to get an MBA.  He applied to top schools and was accepted at INSEAD, near Paris, which had a highly-rated 1-year program.  Halfway through the program the CEO of the Admiral Insurance Group came to Henry’s Corporate Entrepreneur class as a guest-speaker.  The CEO would routinely peruse the resumes of the students, and invited Henry to have a conversation.  A number of conversations later, Henry was offered his current job, starting right after graduation in July 2018.

 

You can see Henry’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “The key pillar that attracts me to this job is the creative aspect. I wanted to create things that didn’t exist before and develop them. Instead of choosing the members of the band and writing the music, I now choose the members of the company and write out the strategy. At the end of the day, we get to look back at all that we achieved and created. That’s what gets me up in the morning.”

“Just hang in there. Don’t let the situation make you feel like giving up. It may sound like my path was an easy progression which just happened, but when I was in it I had no idea it would turn out anything good. At one point I was a 25-year old intern where everyone else had business degrees.  Once you get an opportunity, give it your all, and it will lead to great success.””

“When I was 18 I had had a big passion for music. If I hadn’t gone to Berklee I’d have always had some aspect of regret for not giving music a shot. I’m glad I did it. Even if today I’m not in a music-related career, I saw it through until my departure from it.”

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #165: Ricky Gonzalez

Ricky Gonzalez

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 8 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2011 with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  guitar.

 

Position:  Vice President of Content at Flyquest, an e-sports team that competes in the League of Legends (fantasy video game) professional league.  Effectively, Ricky is the executive producer of all content related to the game, such as videos showcasing the players, and team shirt designs.  “It’s like an intense movie set, except that it never ends.”  He ensures good communication between his video players and the players they showcase.  Video content can all be seen on the team’s YouTube channel.

 

Overview:  While at Berklee, Ricky did a summer internship for someone who got contracted to make a video for OK GO, which has millions of views.   He toured with the band and was showcased as their “video guy” (despite minimal experience) and found other bands reaching out to him to do videos.  He figured that doing videos was his ticket to success and started a company while at Berklee.  Shortly after graduation in August 2011, a studio in California invited him to move out there and work directly for them doing videos for all their bands.  He did so, but the studio folded in mid-2012.  Ricky applied and took a job with a newspaper that was starting a video channel, and at some point new management liked his ideas and promoted him during a re-org, but ultimately the station was closed and everyone laid off in the spring of 2014.

Ricky co-founded a video production company, shooting commercials as well as music and everything else.  The company was doing OK, but he was starting to get into e-sports, being a big fan/player of League of Legends, and he realized that teams were starting to do videos, but those were of low quality.   At the end of 2015 Ricky posted on a Reddit that he’s like to do better videos, and heard back right away from a team owner, which hired him on a retainer, until the team dissolved a few months later.  He reached out to the CEO of another team, The Immortals, and was hired…on the condition that he move up to Santa Monica and live in the team’s mansion.  Ricky worked there, ultimately giving up his old company until the company decided to focus on other video games.  Wanting to stay with League of Legends, Ricky reached out to Flyquest, where he was hired into his current job–pleasantly surprised to be offered the title of vice president!

 

You can see Ricky’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “Most of my job is managing people — the biggest par is making sure the players and my production staff have good communication and are all on the same page as to what we need to do, so when we got o make the video it’s done thoughtfully without wasting the players’ time. The players often are young and not very trained, so my job is make them comfortable being in front of the camera.”

“Music people make the best video production people. We have music in our blood–a better sense of timing and rhythm when we edit. Out knowledge of music, and what will work well, also affects how we plan the shoot.”

“There’s no way I’d have made it here in my career without Berklee.  I learned how to collaborate with people, dealing with personalities and talent.  If you’re not in a team sprot of a band, you don’t really get that.  Also I started off doing music videos, and being able to speak the music side is why I got as much video work as I did.”

“Think of the things you love about doing music–is it the creation? The audience response? Take what you like, and make THAT the priority. Often you can find that in other fields. For example, I liked the camaraderie, and found that in e-sports. Think hard about what makes you the most happy in music and if the music thing isn’t working out, start there. I pinch myself every day thinking how lucky I am, doing what I love doing and happy to go to work.”

“If you’re interested in working in e-sports, move to Santa Monica CA — that’s where the teams all are. Also, get involved with anyone you can in the field.  E-sports are growing really quickly. I’ve not stopped hiring people since 2016. Every position is open now!  Also, Twitch.tv is worth studying and learning about.”

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #164: Valerie Blaemire

Valerie Blaemire

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 2 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2013 with a major in Film Scoring.  Principal instrument:  piano.

 

Position:  Marketing and Development Associate at the Edlavich Jewish Community Center of Washington DC.  The majority of Valerie’s job involves development work:  processing donations, organizing fundraising events, helping write grant proposals and solicitations to donors, but she also does administrative work, including helping promote their programs and writing their weekly electronic newsletter.

 

Overview:  Valerie finished Berklee skeptical that the standard move-to-L.A. path for film scoring majors was for her, so she moved home to Maryland, and spent a couple of years working some part-time jobs (mostly teaching music and waiting tables) while researching what she wanted to do.  During this time, she got involved with  Valerie decided she wanted to be in the performing arts world, but on the administrative end, so in mid-2015 she enrolled in the Roosevelt University’s Masters in Performing Arts Administration program.  A very busy year involving classes, work, and two internships later, she had her Masters degree.

Initially unable to find a job, she reached out a former professor, who advised her to keep busy with another internship while she looked.  She got a (minimally) paid internship with a small theater in Baltimore and applied to many positions, including “Theater J”, which was affiliated with her current employer.  She didn’t get that position, but they passed her resume along and she was hired into her current job , and she was hired in October of 2016.  In January 2019 Valerie received a raise and a new title (“Associate” rather than “Assistant”).

 

You can see Valerie’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “This Jewish Community Center (JCC) has lots of arts programming: music, theater, film, as well as a communiity service program and other forms of Jewish engagement.   I really enjoy still getting to be involved in the arts. The arts are really important to me; I feel like I’m directly contributing to arts and culture. I’m doing something that matters to me.”

“I’m not part of the Jewish Community myself, so working at a JCC was a bit of culture shock and a huge learning curve for me. We go home early on Fridays because of ‘Shabbat’ and at first I had no idea what ‘Shabbat’ was.  But it has been an awesome experience, though. I realy like learning about other cultures and have learned so much. Plus me being non-Jewish has been valuable, as I’m able to suggest broader outreach to folks who may not know about of our organizations resources, which are open to everyone.”

 

 

Valerie at the Philadelphia Marathon.  “After college I got into running, and got involved with Team In Training, where runners raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.  That was my first experience fundraising., which became a large part of my career.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valerie as a Berklee student.  ” Just because your degree is in music means you have to do exactly what your degree is in. Be aware there are lots of options, including ones to be involved in music, albeit in a lesser capacity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valerie with her dog.  She’s in a good place, but it took time.  For those who are interested in a carer in the nonprofit arts world she says, “It’s hard to get your foot in the door, so get LOTS of experience. You’re going to have to volunteer you time a lot, and not get paid for a while (and the starting pay will be low). I did 3 internships and got a masters before my first position. Start now, and start volunteering. Any organization would love to have you.”

 

 

 

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #163: Adam Williamson

Adam Williamson

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 16 min) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2009, with a major in Music Business.  Principal instrument:  bass guitar.

 

Position:  Senior Data Scientist at Gartner, Inc., a large, multinational technology-focused research company whose clients are very large businesses.  Adam is on a team that services the rest of the company, answering tough questions others can not, and building tools to make others’ tasks more efficient.  Adam uses data to produce models, and builds both descriptive and predictive analytics.  Roughly 2/3 of his time is spent on tasks he has to do, while the last third he is able to work on anything he wants.

Overview:  After graduation, Adam did an internship in Austin, but had already decided that a career as a musician was not for him.  He had applied to be a Peace Corps volunteer and was accepted!   Thus, after a 3-month training, in February, 2010, he was on a plane to Zambia, where he lived in an village without electricity and helped administer rural education programs (“I was grossly under-qualified.”).  He also helped with a chicken vaccinatino program and, on his own initiative, helped st up a program to educate boys about gender equality.  Adam’s Peace Corps stint ended in the spring of 2012, and after a few months in Johannesburg, South Africa, returned to his home city of Houston, where an old family friend gave him a job as marketing director for a music school for children.  He worked there for 2.5 years, and during that time he grew progressively more interested in data analysis, which was a small component of his job.  In his spare time, Adam started using Kaggle to self-educate about data science.

Adam was making decent money, but it was clear that he’d have to go elsewhere for career growth.  A marketing consulting firm which this music school had worked with recruited him to be on their digital marketing team.  While a step up, Adam didn’t really enjoy having to do so much direct  client interaction, and he soon started working on his Masters in Data Analytics at Texas A&M University, as he felt that he was reaching the limits on what his self-education could do.  He decided to move to Austin and was hired by Gartner in October 2016, initially in marketing, but they promised that once he completed his masters he could transfer to data science.  These happened in the spring of 2018.

 

You can see Adam’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “One thing about the data world is it’s a meritocracy. You might have a middle school education, but if you can program a neural net in Python, you ‘ll have a job.. There’s folks on my team without a masters, others have a Ph.D.  But if you are self-educating, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who is doing it professionally and ask where to start.”

“Everyone thinks the data on the internet all talks to other data, but often it’s not clean at all and takes a lot of time to make it work. I spend a lot of time on Stack Overflow (“reddit” for programmers, and has minimal toxicity) The world of programming / data is so wide, so you’re researching ways to connect data sources, or find new statistical modeling techniques. You have to stay up to date,aware of what’s possible.”

“The Peace Corps was fantastic experience, and more folks should consider it.  A lot of Peace Corps volunteers are similar to Berklee kids: broad minded, liberal. And you get exposed to really cool music. And it takes off the pressure of having to start your career right away. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t had those years to think.”

“Be open minded to what you can do, and what you might enjoy. There’s a lot of negativity around the corporate world, but a lot of corporations provide a fantastic quality of life. I can work up to 4 weeks/year from anywhere, get 6 weeks vacation, can work from home if I need to do laundry.  Also, don’t think things are unattainable because you have a degree in music. My music degree helped me get into my Masters–the program was full of oil/gas people and they loved that i brought in diversity of background. ”

“I’d never discourage someone interested in music from going to Berklee, but Berklee students should be encouraged to explore other options. You never know where you career can do. I have a friend who is a regional directors for RedBull events, others who are gigging every night at a jazz club. It’s not a monolith. The world is better off getting more Berklee kids in there.”

“In Austin, everyone has a beat machine or a guitar.  I love that if folks decide to just bust out their instruments I can be part of that.  My dream in life, since I realized I wasn’t going to work in music, is one day to be the old hippie with a guitar. I couldn’t be happier. ”

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #162: Adam Rosenwach

Adam Rosenwach

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 12 min) or download it.

 

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

 

Position:  Vice President of Business Operations / Partner at Coridea, a business incubator specializing in producing new medical devices.  They come up with new ideas, or partner with those who have ideas but lack the business skills, build a prototype, and seek investors to create spin-off companies.  The core business is only 8 people, but when you include their 8 spin-off companies, where they maintain partial ownership / control, it’s around 100.

“Everything that’s the business part of what we do, I take care off. The design/engineering stuff, the other 3 partners take care of.”   Adam handles meeting with investors and answering their question, legal issues and investment details when closing a deal, Human Resources, and setting up offices and managing budgets for the spin-of companies.

 

Overview:  Adam moved to New York City after graduation, and an old friend from Jewish camp connected him with a part-time job teaching music after school in the public schools.  In early 2011 he was “discovered” by a music manager and lived in his place in L.A. to do an album, but the manager didn’t like the result, so Adam returned to New York.  Another old friend from the same camp invited Adam to produce her album.  For the next few years Adam (barely) cobbled together as a producer and music teacher.

Meanwhile, Adam wanted to travel the world, and he started studying how certain credit cards gave points to be used for travel. He researched this intensively and “hacked the system”, figuring out how to take many overseas trips, even flying first class and staying in 5-star hotels, effectively for free!  By late 2013, Adam had started a blog, and he’d make money when people signed up for a credit card.  In late 2013, Adam decided to start a consulting business, helping companies save on travel expenses by using the right credit cards.  His first customer, the then-boyfriend of an old friend from the same camp, was a founder of Coridea.  The founder was so impressed with Adam’s work and presentation that he offered Adam a full-time job, which Adam refused, then offered Adam a well-paying part-time job with flexible hours handling the administrative end of their work.  Adam accepted, which ironically meant the end of his consulting business.

Adam worked part-time, continuing to teach and produce music, for roughly a year until 6 months later Coridea made it clear that they needed him–or someone else–full-time as an office manager, at considerably higher pay.  He took the job.  Since then, he has been constantly learning more and more aspects of the business, which lead to greater responsibilities and promotions, ultimately to full partner in 2018.

 

You can see Adam’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I am a producer. I work with creatives with a vision and make it happen. I did this after Berklee as a music producer — working with creative people who don’t like to dive into the details to make things actually happen.  I’m still the get-stuff-done person, basically doing the same thing.  New lingo, but helping creatives do amazing things is what I think I’m supposed to do on this planet.”

“At the end of the day, each business deal has its own unique set of challenges. That makes it fun, but also gives me an advantage–when things are new, me being a creative problem-solver means I don’t get scared when confronted with a new challenge. There are a million things like that which can be possible solutions.”

“It’s tough for me to give advice, as I’m such an outlier.. I got lucky, fell into something, and worked really hard. Look for those opportunities. But the easiest path to a career like mine is more school.”

“At Berklee I wasn’t a top player, couldn’t get into elite ensembles, and didn’t get the music opportunities I really wanted.  That experience at Berklee trained me that when an opportunity does come you give it your all and maximize it!”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.