One question that the Academic Advising team frequently receives from Berklee Online graduate students is: “I’m not finding any paid opportunities/jobs yet. What can I do to find work after graduation?” Career conversations are vital, especially for students preparing to graduate. Below are some insights by the Berklee Online Academic Advising team on how to put skills, knowledge, and degree experience into paid practice:
1. Visualize what it is that you see yourself doing in the next few months, year, or even five years.
Who are you collaborating with? What skills do you have now that you can put to practice? What skills are you still learning? Getting your imagination going, and then visualizing your success can help you put an action plan into place for seeking opportunities and making new connections. Writing can be a powerful tool for visualization—take note of what goals/ideas come to mind, or create a map. The Berklee Online Careers in Music page is a helpful place to start mapping out potential pathways.
2. Affirm how far you’ve already gotten, and the skills you’ve worked hard to develop.
Make a list of what you’ve done, or update and review your résumé. Be prepared to discuss these various skills when making new connections or searching for/applying to new opportunities.
3. Identify both your existing and ideal connections.
What connections already exist in your network that could lead you to opportunities in your area of interest? What connections do you want to make? Are there students or instructors in your courses you could reach out to, or former colleagues? Attend virtual networking events or reach out to anyone core in their network that could lead to opportunity. Check out faculty bios! Use instructors for advice on networking. Also, don’t forget to network with fellow students. Many of the students we advise have assembled Facebook groups of people from their graduating class. Through steady interaction they have become close and they are consistently networking with each other.
4. Leverage social media as a way to make new connections and show who you are.
Revamp your LinkedIn. Make sure that your social media channels reflect where you are in your career and life, in the case that potential employers or connections stumble across your page. TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter are also other ways to stay connected, and feature creative opportunities to put yourself out there.
5. Start updating all of your marketing materials.
Connections will lead you to opportunities, and showing what you have to offer is key. So keep EVERYTHING updated! Berklee Online graduate students can use the capstone graduate project to market new skills and creative work. Other examples might include creating or updating your website and social media channels. Focusing energy here is important, especially while virtual networking has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the time Music Production and Film Scoring grad students graduate, they have a full studio setup and a portfolio. Put yourself out there and find people to work for. And don’t be afraid to freelance! Doing so will only diversify your portfolio and give you more opportunities to showcase your work.
6. Head to the Berklee Career Center website and schedule a consultation.
Students who contact the Career Center often give us great feedback. Berklee’s Career Center accepts consultations with recent graduates or current graduate students preparing to graduate. Career Center specialists will review resources with you, and can also support with résumé editing and the overall marketing of your career materials.
7. Attend networking events and conventions—many are currently offered virtually now.
Some examples include: ASCAP, CD Baby, SyncSummit, Durango Songwriters Expo, Convention, etc. When it’s safe to do so, you can attend conferences in person. Stay tuned for our own Berklee Onsite event that usually occurs in-person in the Spring.
8. Cast a wide net as you search for opportunities.
It can feel like a lot of work, but casting a wide net increases your odds by applying to a variety of opportunities. Apply for all sorts of levels of opportunities. Keep tabs on companies and organizations you would like to look for. Set up notifications from job search engines. Don’t limit what you are considering (for example: as a producer, don’t just look at studios, also look at record labels, publishing companies, etc.) You never know what you could end up doing!
9. Volunteer your services.
If you’re not getting paid opportunities right away, you can always get in the door by offering to exchange/barter for services or offering to do some work that isn’t paid.
10. Start your own business on the side.
Not interested in working for free? Starting your own business, especially in this environment, can be a great option! Don’t be afraid to come up with basic rates and a list of your core offerings. Let your friends and community know that you are offering these services, and give out your contact information so that you are front of mind. As you gain traction, you can start to scale the services you offer. You can also use resources like Alignable to make connections, land gigs, and help market yourself. Set up a business website, social media channels, etc.
11. Practice self-compassion, take rest breaks and remember that the job search process can take time.
The job search process can feel overwhelming and stressful at times! Navigating the uncertainty and anxiety of a job search process is something you are not alone in. Make sure to give yourself time for self-care. If you’re doing everything above (and beyond!), the chances are that you will find something that is aligned with your core offerings, even if it takes time. You are doing an amazing job!
Article by Michelle Miller, Freesia Towle, and Maggie Atwater, with contributions from Lauren Stegner, Mark Hopkins, Brian Choi, Mike McGlone, Molli Swiatek, Patrick Waltman, Alexander L. J. Tóth, and Eric Zawada.