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.

Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #176: Johann Schuster

Johann Schuster

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Listen to the interview of download it.


Graduated from BoCo in 2014 with a major in Double Bass Performance.

Position: Senior Software Engineer at Motor Trend, a branch of Discovery Communications, a very large entertainment company with over 10,000 employees. Working on the devices team, Johann helps build apps to allow their program content to be broadcast worldwide. Johann similarly builds templates so that other branches of the Discovery network can do the same with minimal effort.

Side Job: Johann is part of a tech startup called “WeedUP”, an app which serves as a once-stop-shop for legal cannabis-based products in South Africa, where he is from. Johann does the tech side of the business, while his partners, located in South Africa, do everything else.


Overview: After finishing BoCo, Johann involved a career in classical music, and he went to Roosevelt University in Chicago to get his masters. However, he did not like the program, and was running out of money, so he and a friend co-founded an video business, which allowed him to scrape by, but visa issues prevented this from becoming a steady income. Johann needed to go back to school by the end of the year or his visa would expire. He enrolled in Depaul University’s program and started walking dogs to make ends meet, often walking/cycling over 20 miles per day year round! Johann became interested in entrepreneurship, and spent much of his time dog-walking listening to podcasts all about teach start-ups. Meanwhile, by late 2016 he got a job at a local orchestra, which allowed him to earn as much money has he had walking dogs. But they had to let him go because he was on a student visa. Facing a tuition bill he couldn’t pay Johann left grad school before the spring, 2017 semester, and resolved that “if anything is going to save me, it’s going to be coding.”

By the late winter of 2017 he and his girlfriend had moved in with her parents in L.A.,. and he spent the rest of the year teaching himself computer programming, first with Free Code Camp and later on his own once he’d mastered their material. In addition to gettting up at 6 am to study all day, Johann also went to local meetups and networking events. He’d built an app but through the networking events got a programming internship before it went live. After a few months, Johann continued his job search, applying to 105 companies, hearing back from 4, and getting 1 job at a company whose app project was behind schedule. The app was successful, but the company wasn’t dong well and Johann worked with a recruiter to find better opportunities. That led to Johann being hired into his current job in late 2018.
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You can see Johann’s LinkedIn profile here.
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Choice Quotes: “A job like this you have to appreciate challenges. I came to learn that in my first months of coding. I get a kick out of stretching my brain and figuring out the problem–that’s the feeling I chase when doing this. One other thing I love is you can just put on headphones and think for hours about a problem. That’s fulfilling to me–I love just being in the zone.”

“I’ve always had a side hustle. Weedup is my third. My company didn’t have to guess what I could do. They could see actual systems and sophisticated architecture which I had built.. I interview people all the time and the first thing I ask is ‘What is the project you’ve built on your own that you’re most proud of?” Many folks say they don’t have one, and to me that’s not a good sign. If they’re really passionate about something they’d have done it.”

“My experience with his business started at Roosevelt from a/v inspired me to keep doing that sort of thing–making money from nothing. So I wanted to start a business, which ultimately led me to reading about the creators.” “As musicians we’re told to make a difference, be an example, create stuff. With business I could do that and support myself well.”

“If you have a hunch, follow it and figure it out, whatever you have to do. Then really go for it. Id’ thought I’d be a musician since I was 10, I was from a musician/artist family. I was terrible at math in high school and barely graduated. It took a lot of courage to take a risk to go in the opposite direction If it worked out for me it’ll work out for anyone.”

“Never underestimate the value of an arts degree and knowledge of art and culture. That power the human spirit. Creativity is a big thing in all fields and to be able to connect dots is the most creative thing there is. As a musician, you learn to think that way. You just have to take that into offices and other venues and it’ll work out.”

“You’re not too old, and it’s not too late. Don’t get bummed out if folks younger than you are successful. Many time, many nights I’d be living with my in-laws with my bridges in Chicago burned and people around me unsure about my path and I wondered if I was too old to do a new career at 26. But it worked and I feel younger than ever!”

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See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni

Successful Berklee Alumni #175: Ross Alexander

Ross Alexander
Listen to the interview or download it.

Graduated in 2017 with a major in Film Scoring. Principal instrument: french horn.

Position: Software Developer at Datacor, a small (75-person) software firm that provides all-inclusive business/product management software used by chemical companies. One of seven developers on his team, Ross spends much of his time converting old product to newer programming languages and upgrading the graphics as well as customizing features for their customers.


Overview: Ross’s father, a computer programmer, tried to get Ross into it, but Ross resisted. At Berklee, Ross focused in scoring music for video games. Many of his class projects involved making or finding a simple video game to write music for. Ross found the video game creation process really interesting and, by the end, was spending more time developing the games than he did writing the music. Ross’s father, who works at Datacor, offered Ross a decent-paying internship after gradution. Aware that it was hard to break into the video game scoring industry, and enjoying software, Ross took the internship. Several months later, as was common, Ross was hired full-time into his role.
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You can see Ross’s LinkedIn profile here.
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Choice Quotes: “I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. Music has that a little bit, especially writing, but that’s the main focus of coding. At least in front end (which I do) it’s a simple problem to deal with and you know what you want, but you have to develop a complicated answer on how to get it to work. I’ve always enjoyed having my mind engaged that way.”

“I don’t think I’d be where I am had I not gone to Berklee. No other school offers such and comprehensive video game scoring program, and I got into programming because of that little push. Then that got me into games. I definitely learned a lot about technology.”

“If music is what you enjoy most and you don’t mind it as a career, that’s fine. But if you don’t see yourself doing that, don’t force yourself to do it. You don’t have to figure it out immediately–it can take a while–but eventually you’ll find it and you can get there. It’s OK to do something different.”

“There are way more places to work in software than Amazon and Google. Every company needs at least a few software developers, for a website/app if nothing else. Getting to work at one of these other places is not that hard if you have the skill for it. I don’t have a Computer Science degree, and one of the two others hired at the same time as me also didn’t. It’s easy to get into at least if you have the skill for it.”
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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #174: Jacy Anderson

Jacy Anderson

Listen to the interview (approx. 50 min.) or download it.

Graduated in 2016 with a majors in Songwriting and Professional Music. Principal instrument: guitar.

Position: Senior software engineer (web developer) at Transamerica, a very large investment firm, part of an even larger global investment firm. They do investing, particularly for retirement, working with both individuals and corporations. Jacy is one of two software developers on the ten-person visual design team. His team makes sure that all company websites have similar styles, functionality, etc, while at the same time making sure they comply with regulations and function as designed.

Overview: For 9 months after graduating, Jacy touted with a minor Americana artist as her lead guitarist, and when not on tour he stayed with her and her husband, working in a warehouse and teaching lessons for extra money. But he was barely scraping by and feeling bad about his situation, and decided he wanted a change in direction and to move to Colorado. Investigating the job market in Denver, Jacy observed that there was a high demand for people in technology. He dabbled a bit with Codecademy.com , teaching himself the basics, then enrolled in General Assembly‘s 3-month “boot camp” to learn web development.

While still doing the boot camp, Jacy got an unpaid internship, then soon after finishing he got an internship that paid, albeit modestly. That turned into a job which paid better, but still on the lower end of what web developers were paid, and with no obvious way forward, so after close to a year there Jacy started looking for other positions. Friends from the boot camp, who worked in design and done projects with Jacy, were working at Transamerica and recommended him for a position. He was hired as a contractor. The project he was hired for was delayed, so he was transfered to the design team. After 4 months as a contractor, he was converted to a regular employee with his current job title.
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You can see Jacy’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: “I’m a songwriter. When you work on a song to make the lyrics hit when it gets to a certain point, it’s a type of problem solving. In a sense, software engineering is the same thing. You try to problem solve to figure something out. It take a lot of creativity, and thinking outside the box to get to the solution.

“We’ll receive design files with explanations, but our job is to make sure we have the same information that developers from other teams need, so we can incorporate all that into what we’re developing. I’m in constant communication with other teams — it’s a communication-focused job for sure, and Berklee helped make me good at communication!”

“Taking on more student debt on top of my Berklee debt and going to that intense program at General Assembly was nerve-wracking. But in a sense it was a motivator. I didn’t have the flexibility to not succeed in the program and find a job . And General Assembly provided us with a lot of professional development and how to get hired.”

“I’ve seen people who got a college degree in Computer Science and still had to do boot camp to learn how to code. As a Berklee grad, I got to the same career and though a much more fun way.”

“There’s so much pressure on college grads to stick the landing. People are too hard on themselves. Failure is part of the game. At the end of the day, your mental health is important. Get to a place where you’re content. You’ll be kinder to yourself and will invest more in yourself and passions. It’s totally normal and OK to not work in music. And sometimes you have to go follow your gut and take a leap of faith.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #173: Jordan Lenhoff

Jordan Lenhoff

Listen to the interview (approx. 45 min.) or download it.

Graduated in 2009 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: drums.

Position: Financial Assistant (staff accountant) at ACAS (Atlantic Coast Aircraft Services), a small company which operates three aircraft designed for custom flights to out-of-the-way destinations that often don’t have regular airports. Relatively new to the company, Jordan spends much of his time observing and learning, as well as preparing for the CPA exams. He also helps clean up the books and with payroll.

Overview: Prior to coming to Berklee, Jordan did four years in the Army. He finished Berklee in three years, and spent the next four touring with a band living with and helping take care of his grandparents when not touring. By the fourth year the band was slowing down, and Jordan needed to make more money, so after a long job search he took a job as a nursing assistant at the hospital where his mother worked. Jordan like the work and considered going back to school to be a Registered Nurse, but he hurt his back and, unable to lift patients, realized he needed a different career. By 2014 he was exploring other options and the more he learned about accounting, the more interesting it sounded. He was accepted into the Liberty University Online program for a Masters in Accounting and, after almost three years, completed his degree in the summer of 2017.

In 2015 Jordan got his first accounting-related job, working in the music industry for a company Rockit Cargo that handles freight for touring musicians and mostly doing accounts payable/receivable. It was a good job, but with no room for career growths, so by 2019 he was looking online for new opportunities. He applied to the position at ACAS, and his military experience plus experience in logistics made him a very attractive candidate, and he was hired into his current job in April, 2019.

You can see Jordan’s LinkedIn profile here.

Choice Quotes: “I enjoy business. I enjoy learning the ins and outs of how businesses work. Accounting was something every business depends on — providing a service they all rely on. There’s a demand for it, and it’s a way to provide a stable career, and it makes a valuable contribution and keeps a business accountable and honest.”

“If you’re not 100% ready to do whatever you need to do for a music career, find another career to make a living while you’re doing music. I’ve seen people do music only and be successful, which is great, but many others don’t get that opportunity. Figure out early on, ideally in college, if music really is for you. And if not, figure out what your career can be.”

“At the end of the day I can confidently know that I don’t regret going to Berklee. I loved being there. I’m a better person for it. It was such a great experience. Life is a journey. Things can turn out very differently from what you planned for.”
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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #172: Jon Reicher

Jon Reicher
Listen to the interview or download it.

Graduated in 2013 with a major in Professional Music. Principal instrument: guitar.

Position: Project Manager at Wvelabs, a mobile app development firm that mostly builds apps for other companies under contract. John is the liaison between the American side, which focuses on sales and management, and the development team located in India, which he officially manages. Also, unlike many project managers, Jon is in direct communication with the clients, making sure they are happy and that the product that Wavelabs is building meets all of their requirements.

Overview: Jon graduated hoping his band would be successful enough to support himself. One of the members had another year left at Berklee, so he stuck around Boston. He busked and found a job working retail at a clothing store. While the pay wasn’t great, he enjoyed the flexibility and being around other young people trying to find their way. In September, 2014, he had his bandmate moved to L.A. to join a third member of the band. For the next two years he worked in other clothing retail jobs for income, then the store he was at was bought out and he tried selling real estate. However, that proved unsuccessful — the pay is commission-only, and without a great network or knowledge of the neighborhood Jon sold very few properties. Jon looked for a new opportunity.

A friend, former manager of his band, and roommate from a Berklee summer program in high school, mentioned that he had been made vice president of a company that built websites and was looking to build a team. Jon overcame his skepticism and persuaded him to give Jon an interview. That went well, and he was hired into a sales role. After a year he transitioned to an account management position (similar money, but more free time and flexibility to play out with his band). Jon did well, but after 9 months or so it was clear that there was no way to move up at this small company, so he started looking for new opptunities elsewhere. A search on Indeed put him in contact with his current company, and he was hired into his current job in March, 2019. Jon also plans to go to law school part-time in the near future while continuing his current job.
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You can see Jon’s LinkedIn profile here.

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Choice Quotes: Every day is different, but it’s predominantly dealing with spreadsheets, internal meetings, and communicating with clients. I meet with clients, since if it goes forward I’m the one they’re working with.”

“I really like interacting with clients, and when they pose challenges. I get to explain how it works, or if it’s a real problem I take it to my team. It’s nice to be in control, believes strongly in the team– we have a good company culture. They believe in me too. Doing a position I’m fond of is more than I could ask for. The pay is great too.”

“I realized very quickly that my primary income was never going to come from music, and I’m OK with that. I wanted to know what my options were to have a life and still have financial stability. In the tech sector, I have a good time, have colleagues who support my band Covality’s shows, and earn enough not to worry about bills.”

“At Berklee you get an fantastic music education. Though much of that is on the internet. For me the biggest value was the network I made and still have. Plus I got my job through networking. My network has been really good for me professionally, and all that focus on it in college made me better at building my network.”

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See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

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.