Successful Berklee Alumni #182: Caitlin Clifford
Listen to the interview or download it.
Graduated in 2012 with a major in Music Business. Principal Instrument: voice.
Position: (Housing) Starts Coordinator at Toll Brothers, a large residential housing developer with thousands of employees nationwide. In this administrative role at their Houston branch office, Caitlin’s responsibility is to assemble all of the needed paperwork before construction — of individual houses or entire communities — can begin: blueprints, permits, foundation prints, energy reports, etc. She also assists her boss, the division manager, with anything he requires.
Overview: After finishing her internship in the spring of 2012, Caitlin moved back home to Houston, cognizant of her student debt and the high cost of living elsewhere. She took the summer off, then quickly applied and got a job at Music & Arts a division of Guitar Center that focuses on marching bands and orchestras, working on the sales floor. Early 2014 she was promoted to store manager. The next two years went well overall, though the transition to managing her former colleagues was a bit awkward. By 2016, however, Caitlin was looking to get out. She was tiring of the long hours and stress of retail, as well as the lack of potential for further career growth. Still working, she started applying widely for a new job, looking for “anything but retail”.
Caitlin had kept in touch with former employee, who had left to work for Toll Brothers. This woman noticed the opening for the administrative assistant job, assisting a manager, and recommended Kaitlin for it. Caitlin interviewed and was hired in September 2016. Sine then, her boss, whom she continues to assist, has been promoted, and her job has gradually come to specialize in housing starts, earning herself very good raises.
You can see Caitlin’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “I like being a part of so many different teams. Each community has its own people, and I get to be a part of all of them. I love being part of the new community startups, as I get to see everything and where it’s going. It’s exciting.”
“Much of my day is hounding my field managers for missing pieces of paperwork. Hurry up and wait. During that downtime I might have to reteach myself a publishing program to revamp a booklet, or whatever Then I get the paperwork and I just go.”
At Berklee I worked in the Student Employment Office and really liked it. It gave me great job skills, which I use even today — filling out W9s and knowing what an exemption is — stuff no one teaches you. Dealing with international students helps me deal with foreign buyers today — it’s something we train people for at my company.
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It doesn’t help. Right after college I worried a lot about what I was going to do. There are so many jobs out there, in and out of music, more than you’re leaning about at school. It’s scary but OK if you don’t believe that music will be your main source of income, and it’s OK if you don’t know what you want to do.–nobody does. Take your time to explore what’s out there, and fake it until you make it.
“I have a lot of fond memories from Berklee. I met lots of cool people, made great friends, and have lots of experiences that friends from high school never had. Take in as much as you can while you’re there. It’s not just music. It’s people, experiences, the city. Take advantage of it all!”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.