BerkleeICE on Tour in Silicon Valley

By 
Stefanie Henning
January 26, 2016
BerkleeICE students at Apple Headquarters
Students at Stanford University's innovator hub, the d.school
Students talk with Justin Kan at Y-Combinator
Students at the Google Campus
Students at Shazam headquarters
Students on the roof patio at Twitter's headquarters
Students at Greylock Partners
Jam session with Berklee alumni, faculty, and Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox
Berklee alumni welcome Berklee faculty and staff to their offices at Apple Music: (from left) Jackson Sweeney '15; Matthew Usnick '06; Danny Patterson '06; Christina Chatfield '06; Stephen Webber, program director, master of music in production, technology, and innovation at Berklee's Valencia, Spain, campus; Panos Panay, founding director of BerkleeICE; Peter Gordon, director, Berklee Center in Los Angeles; and Alex Molina '07.
Eleven students traveled with the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship to get an inside look at careers in Silicon Valley. After meeting Berklee alumni at Apple's headquarters, student Katie Hattier says, "Having Berklee alumni made the idea of working somewhere like Apple so much more realistic and feasible.”
"Musicians naturally think and behave in a way that encourages creativity and innovation," says Alex Olsen, one of the students on the trip, paraphrasing what he heard at Stanford's d.school.
"To be a successful musician, you need to work just as hard as someone doing a startup," says student Will Lydgate, reflecting on his time with Justin Kan (pictured at right), partner at the seed accelerator Y Combinator. "It's a marathon, so focus is important."
“I learned more about creative thinking at Berklee than I did at Harvard Business School,” said Mike Cassidy '84, vice president and project lead for Google X Project Loon.
After visiting Shazam's headquarters, student Edward Ma reflected on the experience, saying, "Shazam’s innovative approach to increase the awareness of less popular music, to identify music, and to adapt and work alongside the new leaders of the music industry were definitely cool to witness in person."
Students mingle and catch some breeze on a rooftop patio at Twitter's headquarters.
Visiting Greylock Partners helped show student Paloma Menendez the parallels between her studies at Berklee and careers in technology. Menendez says,"I was surprised to find their company selection process was quite similar to what we as musicians look for in each other when forming a band: low ego, determination, experience, relentlessness, people who attract the best of the best."
Berklee alumnus Kyle Billings '14; Steve Bailey, chair of Berklee's Bass Department; Michael Samuels, Berklee graduate student; and Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, during a jam session at Zoo Labs.
Nicole d'Avis
Nicole d'Avis
Stefanie Henning
Stefanie Henning
Stefanie Henning
Nicole d'Avis
Katie Hattier
Stefanie Henning
Katie Hattier

Students Get Immersed in the Heart of Startup Culture

BerkleeICE took its inaugural trip to Silicon Valley to expose students to the range of career possibilities in the technology sector, immersing them onsite at industry titans such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, startup incubators, and venture capital firms. The trip also gave these innovative employers the chance to meet Berklee students, who, through their intelligent and provocative comments and questions, represented why employers love to hire Berklee graduates.

Panos Panay, founding managing director of BerkleeICE, framed the trip for the students around the idea that, conceptually, every Berklee career is a startup. In fact, the trip was conceived as a way to highlight the many parallels between musical innovation and startup innovation in Silicon Valley. Alex Olsen, a music business/management major focusing on entrepreneurship, saw this idea manifest throughout the experience, particularly at the Institute of Design at Stanford University, the d.school. "Musicians naturally think and behave in a way that encourages creativity and innovation," Olsen said, paraphrasing what he heard at Stanford, and drawing connections with his own experience at Berklee. 

Building a Band, Building a Brand

Berklee alumni were well represented at many of the companies visited, and one of the highlights was a meeting with Mike Cassidy ‘97, vice president and project lead for Google X Project Loon. "I learned more about creative thinking at Berklee than I did at Harvard Business School,” Cassidy said, referencing the time he spent studying jazz piano at Berklee and his graduate work at Harvard. His presentation to students included the chance to learn first hand about Google’s work to provide internet access to the world through balloons.

In addition to Cassidy, students met and networked with alumni who work at prestigious companies including Tesla, Apple, and Skywalker Sound, as well as alumni in more traditional music careers, such as vocalist Rachel Rose '13, and road manager Lewis Robertson '13, touring with Jefferson Starship. At Apple, students learned about their culture of "only excellence," and how that is sustained throughout their brand. The vibe has attracted a growing network of Berklee alumni, some of whom shared how he or she had been hired, thanks to referrals from fellow Berklee alumni at Apple. 

Bringing it all home, Paloma Menendez, a double major in music business/management and vocal performance, noted that the tools these companies are using to be successful are the same tools students are learning at Berklee. “I was surprised to find [venture capital firm Greylock Partners's] selection process was quite similar to what we as musicians look for in each other when forming a band: low ego, determination, experience, relentlessness, people who attract the best of the best.”





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