Four Key Lessons from the Spring Career Seminar
Berklee's campus in Valencia graduate students attend one of the panels formed by industry professionals at the Spring Career Seminar 2018. Photo by Tato Baeza.
The second annual Spring Career Seminar, a three-day boot camp organized by the International Career Center that focuses on professional development through panels, workshops, and concerts, took place January 16–18. Seminar guests included Frank Klaffs, CEO of Piranha Arts; Joe Belliotti, global entertainment marketing director at Coca-Cola; Tanya Laird, CEO of Digital Jam; Chiara Hellquist, product manager for festivals and brands at Universal Music Spain; and alumni Fernando Furones and Anže Rozman.
The seminar aimed to provide students with career guidance, perhaps summarized best by sound engineer Susan Rogers during her presentation: “Success is when preparation meets opportunity.” Accordingly, several graduate students from the master’s programs offered at Berklee’s campus in Valencia, Spain, reflect on lessons they have learned to boost skills and achieve professional goals.
1. Think as a Professional
For Sergio Martín, the best advice he received was to avoid the rush artists feel to record an EP. “I’m going to continue focusing on practicing to boost my guitar skills while I study production to start projects in the future, and focus on learning and mastering the concepts to have a fruitful career as the artist, producer, and educator that I am,” said the student in Berklee Valencia’s Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) program. “The talk that I had with Joe Belliotti was eye-opening for me. I must stop thinking as a student who gets frustrated seeing that a year is not enough to launch a solid career and start thinking as a professional who understands that big projects take time to develop,” he said.
2. Understand Where You Are, and Where You Plan to Go
“The discussions which took place at the career seminar influenced me to prepare for interviews, research the companies I want to work for, and to use the network I have at Berklee to learn and make connections within the industry,” said Hillary Storm, student of the Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program. As a consequence of the three-day boot camp, she plans to help artists she works with create more meaningful connections with their fans.
Sojin Ryu, enrolled in the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program, says she lacked confidence before joining Berklee Valencia. After the seminar, she said she has learned to live in the present. “I have set my mind to really prepare for my future. I have to rewrite my résumé, gather my works together to create a portfolio, create a website that presents who I am, and connect with as many people as I can. If I achieve them all, I should be ready to move forward to … open up my career path,” she said.
For Serena Aboudaher, focusing on one thing at a time is the way to grow as an artist. “Becoming great at one thing before attempting something else allows me to dig deeper and deeper. These are the next steps that I’ll be taking before graduating, because they will definitely help me move towards my chosen career path, which is being an artist and musician,” said the student of the Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program.
3. Research Your Field and Develop Your Brand
Conducting thorough research to understand the value of a prospective employer was a great piece of advice for Justin Rivera, a student in the Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program. “Knowing what skills and ambitions you can add to that company, and to motivate yourself to bring something new is also important,” he said. “Through this experience I learned a lot about the importance of building your brand, and the different tools available to market yourself.”
4. Prepare Career-Related Materials
Kuan Pou Pun said diversifying income has become his top priority. “I am planning to develop new music businesses in Taiwan and invest in different companies to create passive incomes, as well as starting a YouTube channel to release music as well as fashion and lifestyle-related videos so I can keep developing my artistic work with a better foundation,” said the student of the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program.
“This session definitely inspired me to be more active in the digital world. Our means of media consumption today are more accessible, and our attention span is so short that artists really must cater to an audience and pack as much into one little snippet as possible,” said Davis West, enrolled in the Master of Music in Contemporary Performance (Production Concentration) program. The seminar encouraged West him to create a Facebook page and link it to his Instagram account to build a larger following on social media.
Nancy Macmillan, studying in the same program as West, said she is designing her website as part of her culminating experience. “In order to have a sure and authentic sense of my artistic identity, I have to be careful with the projects which I choose to have my name—my brand—attached,” she said. “These bits of information will help me direct my decisions over the course of this next semester, for example, which recording sessions to say yes to.”
“I learned a lot about making spreadsheets to budget my tours and gigs, and how to ultimately decide whether it’s worth it to take a gig,” said Daniel Dresner. As a student in the Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program who is pursuing a career as a touring DJ, he said he found this acquired knowledge to be “extremely helpful.”
Liliana Gagnon, also enrolled in the same program, says that she has already started to research internship opportunities in New York City. “I have scheduled a meeting with the ICC to start the application process,” she says. The importance of a business plan before releasing a product was also “eye opening” for her, and has encouraged Gagnon to collaborate with a business student and incorporate a business plan for the release of her EP and corresponding videos. “Poor planning in the promotion end has been my downfall and I feel that if I am organized and have a solid plan I can be so much more successful in the future,” Gagnon says.