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.

Successful Berklee Alumni #161: Shawn Mills

Shawn Mills

 

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

 

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

 

Position:  Systems Engineer at General Dynamics Propulsion Systems.  General Dynamics is a large military contractor which builds both military vehicles and communications equipment, with private clients as well as government contracts.  As an electrical engineer there, Shawn is expected to work on many different projects to round out his experience.   He works on a team that analyzes different designs and pieces of new communications equipment to make sure they will meet all specifications to do their assigned task.   This involves a lot of tasks, including communications, programming, and troubleshooting.

 

Overview:  Prior to Berklee Shawn completed a 4-year enlistment in the U.S. Air Force, and earned an associates degree in electronics, but he really wanted to be a musician and came to Berklee with help from the G.I. Bill, while remaining in the reserves  Afterward, still in the Boston area, Shawn tried to join the army band, but as it was a different services he was only allowed to join a reserve band, which was very part time.  For five years Shawn played in this band while supplementing his income mostly by teaching guitar and some bartending.  But he started to sense that he wasn’t on a good long-term career path.  Then he had a terrible accident with a long recovery during which he wasn’t able to teach or play guitar, and he decided that he wanted to pursue a degree in Electical Engineering (“EE”), at least so he’d have a backup plan is music didn’t work out.

He took some classes at Bunker Hill Community College, did a semester at Texas A&M but didn’t like the program, then transferred to Arizona State University, where veterans all pay (lower) in-state tuition.  While at ASU, companies recruited people for internships.  Shawn did internships at both Raytheon and General Dymanics, received job offers (contingent on receiving his Bachelors degree) from both, and he decided to stay in Arizona and work at General Dynamics.

 

You an see Shawn’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:   “My job is broad like an undergrad degree and gives you a taste of many things so you can figure out what to focus on. There’s never a shortage of jobs or possibilities for EE, and the pay is good.”

“If you can prove yourself in EE there’s always something else to learn or to do.  If you want to stay in music, you could find work designing instruments, or whatever. ”

“Better to have an EE degree and not need it because I’m a rock star than need it and not have it.”

“Stay true to yourself, but keep an open mind Don’t just isten to yourself–take advice from friends, family, and mentors.”

“Coming out of Berklee you have a famous people.. Berklee is a culture, it’s a thing. I wish it well. It’s not easy, but you have to be the change you want to see in the world and have to be happy with yourself.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #160: Kayla Moen

Kayla Moen

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 49 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated from BoCo in 2009, with a major in Musical Theater.

 

Position:  Learning and Development Manager at the 5-star St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan., part of the very large Marriott International hotel group, which has thousands of hotels under over 30 brands.  Kayla delivers trainings to the hotel employees on everything from safety to professional development to orienting new employees.  Training material is provided from the corporate headquarters, but Kayla has to familiarize herself with it and give it her personal take.  She also has developed some of her own materials.  On the slower weeks, she spends part of her time helping out the Human Resources department, especially with creating events involving the employees.

 

Overview:  Kayla moved to NYC after graduation, worked a large variety of side jobs while aggressively seeking roles in musical theater.  Sadly, she wasn’t offered any major parts, and the offers she did get paid dismally low.  She struggled financially for two years.  In 2011 Kayla got a job tending bar at a restaurant, which paid a lot better than her previous jobs, but she was still actively pursuing a musical theater opportunity.  A year later, a friend from her softball league who tended bar at a Marriott hotel, helped her get a better bartending job there.  By 2013 she was tapering off the musical theater auditions, when her boyfriend (now husband) encouraged her to think about her long-term career, and Kayla decided she wanted a career at Marriott.

At the beginning of 2015 Kayla switched from tending bar to working at the front desk, despite the awkward hours and drastic pay cut, as it was necessary experience in order to establish a career path.  After 4 months, she applied for and was hired as assistant to the manager of a different Mariott-owned hotel.  That exposed Kayla to many different career possibilities, and she decided she wanted to work in Human Resources, so when a HR person left Kayla got her boss’s permission to move laterally into that job in mid-2017.  But a year later she learned that the hotel was being re-branded, so she had to find another job if she wanted to stay within the Marriott family.  She applied to many positions and was hired into her current job.

 

You can see Kalya’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “The first time I was hired by Mariott was 7 years ago, at the Renaissance Hotels. The instructor was so energetic and awesome and I felt empowered and couldn’t wait to start my job!  Now after all these years I’ve worked my way up to this point. I love being up on stage, to present this wonderful content, be able to help people and do something good. In this role I do that, and have relationships with everyone at the hotel, from janitor to general manager.”

“Everything I’ve learned in school I use in my life and at my job. Even being physically aware of my body–the body language, the impression I give off. I do a training on body language and I’m an expert on that due to BoCo.  Senior year BoCo they train us to present ourselves given how we want to be perceived. That helps me do trainings and get people on board. It also helped with interviews–interviews are a piece of cake compared to auditions!”

“Get out and meet people. I have a girlfriend who want to BoCo who’s a musicians but she meets bandmates and gets gigs by being so social. Those connections create opportunities for success.”

“Wherever your’re working, if you want to be in a training position, get involved in it as much as you can. A lot of folks don’t want to do it, but take it on, get involved, help the trainers. The trainers will count on you. Then if a position in training opens up they’ll think of you because they know you. Once you’re doing the job, get to know every single person in the business, and treat them all as an equal — they’ll see you as someone they respect, not just someone in an office who barks orders.”

 

See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni

 

Successful Berklee Alumni #159: Tom Rockford

Tom Rockford

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 17 min.) or download it.

 

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

 

Position:  Associate Investment Banker at Barclay’s Investment Bank.  Barclay’s in a multinational financial services firm that provides banking services for both individuals and corporations, as well as wealth management and has over 80,000 employees worldwide.  Tom is working on the private side of investing, working on coverage–helping corporate clients line up financing for major deals and analyzing what assets are worth.  He’s on a  team focuses on the commercial real estate industry.  The pay and bonus are nice, but the hours are extremely long.

 

Overview:   Tom went to Berklee thinking he’d be a performer, but gradually found himself more interested in his music business classes.  After graduating from Berklee in August, 2011, Tom moved home to Long Island, New York.  He wanted to work in the music industry, and started his own (very) part time recording business, but needed to earn money.  Initially working as a cook at a golf club, when that closed for the winter he got a temporately, part-time job at Guitar Center as a greeter for the holidays.  Afterward, his persistence convinced the manager to give him a regular job there, where he made barely over minimum wage.  Meeting his now-wife was incentive for him to start doing better, and he voraciously read books on sales and self-improvement.  Soon, Tom was a top-seller and had more than doubled his pay.  Over the next couple of year he was promoted to Assistant Store Manager, then Sales Manager, then Sales Manager at their flagship store in Manhattan, then Store Manager.  By 2014, Tom was making a good pay and a future path up the corporate ladder beckoned, but he had become aware of investment banking and financial people whom Guitar Center worked with and he “wanted to be in the room.”  He started researching careers in investment banking and realized he would have to go to a top business school.

Initially not doing well enough on the GMAT, Tom redoubled his efforts and scored in the 700s, which got him into UNC, starting in the fall of 2016.  He moved down there with his wife and son, and that first semester was extremely intense, with him dividing his time between coursework and lining up/practicing for interviews in investment banking, as it was clear that if you didn’t get summer internship it would be almost impossible to break into the industry.  That winter break, he was offered a well-paying summer “internship” at Barclay’s in New York, where he worked with the real estate group.  Two weeks before that internship ended, he was offered a full-time job, starting shortly after he graduated the following year.

 

You can see Tom’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I like really being part of the pulse of the economy. . You have to follow the news, track interest rates, you have to be a part of it all. It’s an adrenaline rush. I wanted to understand the world better and see what makes the economy grow. I’m at the hub of the economic machine–our transactions really change the landscape.”

“Mostly at the junior levels in investment banking, which is where I am, you’re spending the day reading financial reports and using that information to build build financial models in Excel.  The rest of the the time is mostly spent putting together presentations, usually for the clients.”

“I have a lot of strengths because  I’ve been exposed to such a wide range of personalities and creative people at Berklee. So many people in investment banking went to cookie-cutter schools and are very similar, and they’re not ready to think outside the box. You have to think creatively and at Berklee I got that and that really did set me up for success.”

“Berklee’s Music Business program was great!  You learn about record contracts and MB stuff, but you also get a solid business foundation.  You know economics, accounting, communications, etc.   You get a good understanding for how you should think as a businessperson.”

“There’s a cookie-cutter process to get into investment banking. They expect a few things on your resume: an MBA from a top-20 (maybe top-30) school, and experience working in a world a bit in business, getting promoted a few times.  Show you’re well-rounded too — I helped raise money for my friend’s non-profit which build schools in Africa. You don’t have a be a MB major, but you should take some financial accounting classes to show you’re interested. Make sure you do really well on the GMAT. Then be able to tell a really, really good story about yourself.  The first interview question is ‘Tell me about yourself.” and you need to be able to inspire someone and have them think you’re a go-getter and someone they want to work with.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #158: Lauren Nedelman

Lauren Nedelman

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 57 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated from BoCo in 2010 with a major in Musical Theater.

 

Position:  Entrepreneur/CEO of Super Marketers, a company which does live demos of organic food and beverage products in the New York City area.  Mostly in supermarkets, particularly Whole Foods, but they also do food shows.  Lauren mostly does administrative and sales work — finding new business, scheduling product demonstrations and partner locations and staffing them with her “brand ambassadors” (the people doing the demonstrations / passing out samples), etc.  But she also trains new brand ambassadors, and is prepared to step forward and work a shift if someone can’t make it.  Her brand ambassadors are all contractors, but several work almost-full time, and many others world part time as fits their schedule.

 

Overview:  Upon graduating, Lauren toured with a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” for a full year.  While on tour, she sent out headshots/resumes to line up an agent, or more work, but didn’t have any luck.  She moved to NYC when the tour ended, and did a variety of jobs to keep afloat financially:  taskrabbit, temping for a non-profit, working in a doctor’s office.  But she didn’t particularly like any of these.  Then one day in 2013 she was in Whole Foods and a woman was giving out samples for a (now-defunt) food company, Oatworks.  Lauren started chatting with her, and commented that that job looked like great fun and she’d love to do something like that.  It turned out that the woman was the hiring manager, and they had an opening!  Lauren got the (contract, part-time) job.  She worked there most of the year, then the owner moved out of the country and the company closed.

Deciding to pursue the profession more and make a career out of it, Lauren made business cards and went to a food trade show in the role of an independent contractor looking for brands to promote.  She connected with several companies, including one called “Back to the Roots” and worked as a “brand ambassador.”  By mid-2016 she set up her own independent LLC.  Later that year, Back to the Roots was having a problem with a company that had hired to do additional promotions of their product, so Lauren offered for her new company to take on that role, which meant hiring people and scheduling.  Her company got the job in November, 2016.  By February, 2017 she had a second client and half a dozen employees, and it has been up from there.

 

You can see Lauren’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I love how I get to use what I learned in school. In musical theater what I did best is acting–in acting you learn what the objective is and the tactics you use to get it. I get to use that in demos. I’m going to talk to a woman with lulu lemon pants and 3 kids differently from a man in a business suit on his lunch break. I feel like I’m living this improvizational, on-my-toes lifestyle that I studied at school.”

“I like to hire artists because they have the training on what they need to do to sell product. We’re trained on what at the tactics, what we need, what’s our objective, how we’re going to get the audience   Also, I like that I’m giving back to the artist community.  Being a brand ambassador is a good-paying, flexible job where the person doing this is understanding of the employees’ needs.  I’m OK with people leaving for a while to do a show.”

“I’m definitely on LinkedIn posting articles about my industry, or a photo of one of my Brand Ambassadors doing a demo, which is a way of saying ‘Hey, I’m around.’  I also do trade shows a few times/year to connect with brands and follow up. But as long as there’s enough work for me and my team I’m not going crazy to pull in more work. Less is more, in that I want to give my brands undivided attention, so would rather stay boutique sized.”

“If you find something you enjoy, don’t let the fact that you didn’t study it in college scare you away. Maybe we’re meant to do many things.”

“If you want to get into t, even if just as your side hustle, you want to get known in the demo industry. There are Facebook groups. . If you see someone sampling, feel free to talk to them and see who they work for and are they hiring and are they treating their employees OK?   You can send me your headshot too–I’m always filling my roster and never know when new brands are coming on board and I need to hire more.”

 

 

Lauren with cast mates from the Fiddler on the Roof tour.  “When I went into musical theater, my family was a devil’s advocate and asked what I’d do with a theater degree. I proved them wrong by booking a tour, but I proved them even more wrong by starting my own company!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni

 

Successful Berklee Alumni #157: Remy Felsch

Remy Felsch

 

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

 

Graduated in 2016 with a major in Songwriting.  Principal instrument:  drums.

 

Position:  Graphic Designer at Reside Real Estate, a tech-based real estate startup which provides marketing and support services to experience real estate agents looking to go independent of conventional agencies and establish their own brands.  Remy is on a small creative team.  “We’re working with each agent to create everything visual that represents the agent’s brand–digital, email, flyers, brochures, logos. Anything visual that represents that agents brand we come up with it.”  Remy manages two contractors who work remotely, and also does specialty design projects that lack templates.

 

Overview:  Remy learned Photoshop at age 10, and made a bit of money at Berklee designing album artwork and posters.  He also got a work-study job with the Songwriting department, much of which involved laying out flyers.  After finishing Berklee in August, he moved to Nashville, thinking about being a professional songwriting, but didn’t find success and felt he would do better as a professional drummer.  He gigged a bit while working food delivery and other side jobs, but didn’t like the grind and moved home to San Francisco that December, pondering his next career move.

Remy decided to go into graphic design, since he liked it and had years of experience, and aggressively applied to jobs.  He got a highly-paying internship with a similar but smaller real estate firm, which turned into a contract job.  He was offered a real job there, but didn’t like the way the company was run so left in August, 2017 for a 6-month temp-to-permanent graphic design job in Raleigh, North Carolina, but got laid off after 4 months.  Unable to find even side jobs there, Remy moved back to San Francisco at the end of the year, and again searched for a full-time job.  Within a few weeks he was hired into his current position.

 

 

You can see Remy’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “The creatively of designing a brand is super-fun to do. It’s cool coming up with a new business name and designing a logo. The most rewarding part is seeing the agent so satisfied with what we’ve come up with — people testifying that the brand helped bring them new clientele / team members.”

“That’s the thing with start ups. They just give you stuff even if you don’t think you have the qualifications. I’d never managed people, but they gave me two remote people to manage right away. It turned out to be fun and rewarding; I like the people I work with a lot.”

“Berklee is a wonderful institution to learn about music, but you can apply a lot of that to other industries.  You know you love music and it’s your passion. What else do you love?  Always have that plan B–that’s the best you can do for yourself. A small percentage of us really make it in music..”

“I’ve seen a lot of Berklee students who just do the graphic design for their band and are really good at it. If you’re doing it for fun and are that good at it, consider it as a career. It pays pretty well. You could do it for a music label if you want to be in the music industry.”

“In a way I’m living my dream. Not the music career dream, but I’m making a good living, working at a cool company in Silicon Valley, and am still doing music on the side. That’s what I wanted–stability, but to be able to do music on the side as well.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #156: Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee

 

Listen to the interview (approx. 1 hr, 28 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2013 with a major in Electronic Production & Design.  Principal instrument:  voice.

 

Position:  Associate Product Manager at NBC Digital.  Andrew manages the NBC app for OTT (Over the Top) devices, such as Roku and Playstation video games, which can be used to stream NBC television content.  Andrew works with designers, engineers, and somtimes the marketing team to make sure the new versions of the app come out with the desired features.  He’ll write product specifications, manage the agile-development “scrum” meetings in which features will be planned, triage reported bugs to determine which need to be fixed right away, and helps Quality Assurance make sure the product is working correctly.

Andrew also is starting a side business as a career coach.

 

Overview:  Andrew moved home to San Jose, California, after graduation, but planned to make it in LA.  He went down to L.A. and stayed for most of a year, doing a couple of media-based internships and some side jobs, but struggled to make money and moved back home.  In August, 2014 he got a contract job in L.A.  as a mobile Quality Assurance tester at Disney Interactive, which was excellent experience but very low pay.  A friend got him a better-paying job with the Far East Broadcasting Company, a small Christian media firm, where Andrew ultimately ended up producing their video and audio podcasts.  However, he grew disenchanted with the work, and in the spring of 2015 left voluntarily in order to search for a job he would enjoy more.  He moved back to San Jose, and soon a recruiter reached out to him for a contract media/data position at Apple, curating metadata for Siri.

Andrew networked and applied for many jobs at Apple, hoping to turn this contract position into a career..  He also started learning to code, but wasn’t feeling it.  While he was unsuccessful in finding a position at Apple, a manager for a position he applied for offered to meet and talk, and he told Andrew that based on Andrew’s experience and interests he should consider going into product management.  Andrew researched what that career entailed “For the first time, I had a clear vision as to where I wanted my career to go. I vowed to become a product manager by the end of the year.”  He did an 8 week “boot camp” Product Manager program at Product School in L.A., then applied to many jobs over the next two months.    Right as he was about to move back home, he got two job offers is rapid succession, the later one for his current position.

 

You can see Andrew’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “It’s a myth that product managers in tech have to be technical.  Knowing to be tech-savvy helps, as does understanding foundational concepts. But the product manager’s main role is communication, so you have to be able to speak the languages of the engineers, the marketing people, everyone on the team.”

“Product managers have to understand where people are coming from. People see the product from their own role as a developer, etc. I’m the person with the most 360-view of the product, and have to make decisions and prioritize features accordingly. Individuals may disagree, but I have to bring all perspectives and be able to explain better.”

“I like that every day is different there are things I do every day, but mostly it’s a very dynamic, intellectually stimulating role. I knew I wanted to be in tech, but didn’t know the role. I wanted to be able to be both creative and logical and where every day could be different. I’m grateful to be in this role.”

“There’s a difference between passion and desire.  Growing up, I was good at music and was told that, which led to me going to Berklee. Berklee is so prestigious, that was a sort of affirmation.  But desire is fleeting and it you face a real challenge you withdraw or run away, which is how I felt with both music and later coding.   But passion is something that when you’re challenged you have the perseverance to tackle that challenge, as I did with product management.  It’s important to know the difference.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.

Successful Berklee Alumni #155: Kenny Rosenberg

Kenny Rosenberg

Listen to the interview (approx 40 min.) or download it.

 

Graduated in 2012 with a major in Electronic Production & Design.  Principal instrument:  piano.

 

Position:  Software Engineer (officially “Consultant”) at Macedon Technologies, a software firm that helps companies build internal tools to manage customer interactions and store data.  Most of the 100+ employees are in Kenny’s role, where they not only build the software, but plan and test it, and interact directly with clients to make sure they are getting what they want.

Overview:  Kenny’s father worked in IT, and got Kenny into coding as a kid.  Kenny came to Berklee, but got heavily into the technology end of the EPD major.  He moved to L.A. after graduation, hoping to be a sound designer in Hollywood.   To pay bills, got a job at a company that rented out audio/visual equipment to reality TV shows.  But the job was underchallenging,  and Kenny discovered that it would be a multi-decade process to get established as a sound designer.

Meanwhile, Kenny’s mother had started a job at the University of Delaware, which meant he would be able to attend school for free.  After about a year and a half in L.A. he moved home and entered the University of Delaware’s Computer Science program, which he felt had better career prospects.  It took him 3 years to get this second Bachelors degree.  Toward the end of the program, a school friend was hired by Macedon Technologies, and recommended Kenny for a similar job, so he had his current job lined up for when he graduated in the summer of 2017.

 

You can see Kenny’s LinkedIn profile here.

 

Choice Quotes:  “I really enjoy the problem solving parts of my job.  My company has a great work-life balance, and since folks are young and socially-oriented engineers, people have a lot of common interests. Many of my colleagues have become friends.”

“My last project 80% of my time was spent in meetings; this project is about 90% writing code. It’s nice to get that variation.”

It’s OK to work that placeholder job as long as it doesn’t keep you from what you ultimately want. That said, if it’s hard to take the time to actively search for what you really want because you’re working so much, you should work less, dedicate time, etc, to make sure you push for what you really want.    But there’s also no shame in taking a turn and doing something else if that’s right for you.”

“I’m currently on a 9-person team at work.  Being on a team in tech is like being in a band–you’re picking up on social cues from clients and coworkers. Berklee enhanced my ability to do that.”

 

 

See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.