BerkleeICE on Tour in Silicon Valley
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.”