Bernice Chan on How Berklee Helped Jumpstart Her Career as a Publicist

A panelist at Career Jam 2023, the recent alum discusses landing her current position and how she's adjusted to life after graduation.

March 28, 2023

Through her work as a publicist at T.C.B. (Taking Care of Business) Public Relations, a company founded by women, Bernice Chan B.M. ’22 has worked with a variety of artists such as Duckwrth, Del Water Gap, Lauren Jauregui, and Tamino, and she recently helped promote the score and soundtrack for the Academy Award–winning film smash Everything Everywhere All at Once. Chan has a diverse skill set in management, public relations, A&R, and music journalism, and is particularly passionate about guiding independent artists.

Her musical journey began at a young age in a children’s opera company and continued at a performing arts high school in Toronto, Canada. She later studied music business/management at Berklee, where she was introduced to the industry through the A&R club and working as a student employee in the Office of Media Relations. She believes in building genuine relationships in the music industry, and strives to amplify the breadth of artistic talent she sees around her. In this interview, we delve deeper into her experiences and insights regarding the music industry ahead of her appearance on the Bursting the Berklee Bubble panel at Career Jam on Friday, March 31. 

What are some of the things you learned at Berklee that you apply to your current job?

The job with the Berklee Office of Media Relations definitely helped me with PR projects and pitch language; I think it helped to get the job where I am currently because I had previous PR experience.... You could have the Berklee name on your résumé, but the important thing is what you do with it. I wasn't the typical academic student because I wanted to do more things outside of the classroom. That's why I joined the A&R club, took the media relations job, and did internships. I used the Berklee network to do that and also utilized the Career Center. I was really focused on how I can use Berklee as a stepping stone to get to where I want to be after graduation.

What piece of advice did you get that really helped?

One of the most valuable pieces of advice that really helped me is to find someone who grew up with a similar background that you can relate to and has the lifestyle you want to have—[use] it as a rough guideline, knowing that there is someone like you who has achieved what you want to achieve.

What are some challenges that you have faced in your career so far, and what are some of the skills that helped you get through them?

I think once you get yourself in the door you need to build discipline and grit to transition as a student to a full-time employee. Half of my degree was completed during the pandemic so when I started working from home, it was a struggle to figure things out and learn on the job. I had to be okay with making mistakes and learning from them—and at first it didn’t feel great because it felt as if I might be bad at this job, but it’s all part of a learning experience. Being a musician first and having your success come with your talent and then shifting to a job where you need to have the foundation of a skill set, which includes things that you have to learn—and you are not born with these skills—is tough. Founder Carrie Tolles and vice president Alison Smith at T.C.B. were big mentors for me, and they gave me space knowing that I was young, and they guided me along the way. But a lot of it was on my computer alone figuring out how to maximize the presence of an artist in the media.

As a woman in the music industry do you think there are difficulties starting out? What changes do you hope to see?

Being led by a woman and working with so many women, I felt pretty comfortable the whole time, which I’m very grateful for! However, there is so much more work that the industry could be doing, and knowing the experiences that other women have had in the industry are always kind of in the back of my mind. I think because of that, women in the music industry need to work so much harder, and I think there is a lot of pressure. 

What are some pieces of advice that Berklee students need to know before they head out into the music world?

Use what’s available to you, and understand you don’t have to make a whole new connection; since the industry is so small you are going to find people who know someone. I had zero connections starting out in the music industry, but the reason I ended up in New York was that I used the Berklee network and found alumni or people who worked in the industry. I messaged people through LinkedIn, asked to interview them or get coffee with them, and asked them, “How did you get to where you are?” Another key takeaway is to take it one step at a time. A lot of the time we are comparing ourselves to other people and where they are in their careers. Take baby steps and you are going to feel more confident in yourself. Don't forget the reason why you got into music and keep that passion close to your heart because there are a lot of things that may keep you away from that. Finally, try to keep some kind of balance. It is so easy to burn out when you are constantly thinking of how to get ahead.

Related Categories