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The new year started strong at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, with the first annual Career Seminar, a three-day boot camp focused on professional development. Although activities focused on this topic are organized every year before the spring semester starts, Stine Glismand, manager of the International Career Center, says that “this is the first time we have created this three-day-long seminar concentrating on career growth and preparation.” The boot camp took place between January 11 and 13, just after the holidays. It’s “a good time for students to strategically define and prepare their next steps,” adds Glismand.
“The timing was ideal, the panel discussions were informative, the workshops were directly applicable, and the networking opportunities with special guests were priceless. I absolutely loved it,” says Brandon Jarrett, a student in the Master of Arts in global entertainment and music business program.
Panels, workshops, and mentoring sessions showcasing a mix of staff, faculty, and industry professionals put the focus on the paths available after graduation as well as provided insight on the music industry. Glismand gave one of the two introductory talks that introduced the seminar. She told students that this was an opportunity for them “to reflect, refine, and structure your career planning so you can be as ready as possible for your graduation in July.”
Special Guests, Workshops and Mentoring Sessions Encourage Students
All activities were divided among panels, keynote speakers, workshops, and mentorship sessions. Patrice Rushen, American composer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, music director, and vocalist, gave the first talk. “Her words of encouragement were incredible,” says Jarrett.
“We focus on showcasing the heterogeneity of careers that are within the scope of music, and the panelists are an example of that,” says Glismand. The DJs, producers, live performers, composers, entrepreneurs, and promoters who attended the boot camp and shared their expertise with the students are proof of this. One of the most interesting and informative panels was formed by alumni, who talked about their experiences after graduation. Other discussion points included how to get hired in the music industry and how to develop a successful freelance career.
DJ Jimpster was a guest for this last panel. He talked about the industry’s gravitation to social networking and proactivity. “As a DJ and producer, it can often seem like the image you portray on social media and the amount of followers you have is becoming more important than your musical output or how you perform on your gigs,” he reflects.
The workshops, defined by Glismand as “very hands on,” included topics like professional performance, thinking as an entrepreneur, and job application strategy. Jarrett attended the latter and found that all participants had the chance to have their individual questions answered by guest speakers Eva Fernández, HR manager at SONY Music Iberia; Jocelyn Afful, senior recruiting specialist at Native Instruments; and Glismand. They discussed how to prepare, complete, and follow up on applications. “I even got selected for a live peer-editing session during Jocelyn’s LinkedIn discussion, which helped improve my profile immensely,” Jarrett says.
The mentoring sessions were the icing on the cake as students had the opportunity to enjoy an individual conversation with a mentor. Jarrett says that for him, this was “a perfect storm scenario” as he was paired with Fernández. “We spent the time discussing an application to SONY Music’s A&R Academy. The best tip I received was how entrepreneurs applying for jobs should approach applications in general,” he shares.
DJ Jimpster also took part in the mentorship session where four students had the opportunity to ask him questions and share some of their projects. “They were interested to hear my opinion on certain ideas they had for particular projects, so it was also a listening session for me to critique some production work. I also offered my advice on potential labels who might be interested and discussed DIY methods for releasing music,” he says.
For Jarrett, who started an independent artist management company called Brand | Jarrett Management, “the seminar solidified that idea and presented new opportunities within it.” Overall, this first annual Career Seminar proved to be a successful tool to help students shape their futures after their graduation.