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A lifelong singer, Cinnamon Denise is at ease in front of an audience, confident and in her element. But in front of her computer screen, with her resume facing her, she’s struggled to present herself.
“I’m not comfortable on a piece of paper,” said Denise '15, who recently graduated from Berklee’s Music Production, Technology, and Innovation master's degree program in Valencia, Spain. The problem for Denise this spring was that her application to the Montreux Jazz Festival Voice Competition depended not only on her vocal talents but on how well she performed on that piece of paper.
Denise turned to Stine Glismand, the career planning senior coordinator at the Valencia campus’s International Career Center (ICC). The two met several times over the course of a few days to rewrite and polish Denise’s resume.
“I really appreciated Stine because there’s a bit of shame in making it to grad school and not being able to really make a resume that I was proud of. I was very anxious about it, and uncomfortable doing it, and she made me feel like, ‘hey, I do have something to present,” Denise said.
She ended up being a semifinalist at the Montreux competition, a coup she credits in large part to Glismand, who shook her head and said, “No, it’s you as an artist.”
“But,” Denise countered, “if I don’t know how to present myself as an artist then I would never be able to even have a presentable application.”
One-on-one consulting with Glismand and Max Wright, the center’s senior coordinator of professional development, is one of the many ICC services that Denise has taken advantage of during her year in Valencia. As part of the center’s mission to provide expert guidance, cutting-edge resources, and professional development experiences to students, it hosts weekly lunches with visiting artists and guest speakers, sends out emails with job and gig opportunities, holds networking events, and offers workshops on topics such as handling social media, time management, and using campus studios.
Michael Deacon, a graduate student in the Global Entertainment and Music Business program, said he found the lunches particularly interesting because they gave him a chance to interact with visiting artists in a more conversational way. For example, he said, while a visiting artist might talk about the music industry in broad terms during a seminar, over lunch that person might offer specific tips on how a particular student can get into the business.
“There’s just something about sitting at a table eating with someone that makes everyone ask the questions differently and that makes the guest artists respond differently,” said Denise, a regular at the lunches. “Food makes the vibe a little bit lighter. It feels less formal because they’re not up on a stage talking at you, you’re sitting at the table, you’re on the same level as them.”
Both Denise and Deacon started their year in Valencia with ICC events. Deacon attended a speed-dating type of mixer in which students spend a few minutes talking to each other and learning about each other’s projects, and Denise attended the ICC’s Plan Your Career event, in which she wrote down specific goals and got an accountability partner who would hold her to them.
One of those goals was to get an internship in Europe after graduation and to tour, if possible. Denise prepared to land the internship by attending an ICC workshop on interview skills. It paid off: this summer she's interning at a mixing and mastering studio in Ibiza, Spain. Meanwhile, she is working on touring Europe.
"We'll see what happens," Denise said. In the meantime, a summer in Ibiza doesn't sound too bad.