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How my love for music translated into career success

Growing up I wanted to be an international singing sensation. In fact, when people asked me the age old question “What do you want to be when you grow up”, I used to respond with “super famous singer”. People laughed it off of course and would try to convince me that perhaps I should consider becoming a doctor or a lawyer or even an engineer. I didn’t really care. I knew I was going to be a huge star. I remember, around the age of 11, I started thinking about how people become stars. It was around that age that I discovered album credits. I realized that in these album credits, something called a “record company” was listed.

Now I don’t mean to age myself too much here, but back in those days, you couldn’t just go to Google and research these things. So I did what any precocious 11 year-old would do. I called the NYC phone operators and started trying to find the phone numbers of the record labels I knew about. Sony, Jive, Mercury records were among some of the ones I knew about. Once I had a list of the ones I liked, I decided to cold call them. I left voice mail message for over 30 record labels in New York City. When no one called me back, I started thinking about what I could do better. I decided I needed to do something to stand out so I called them all back and sang one of my original songs on their voice mail box (the song was ridiculous but hey give me a break, I was 11!).

A few days later, guess what? Someone actually called me back! His name was Ian and he was an A&R with Mercury Records! He asked me if I had a demo. “What’s a demo?”, I asked, confused. We spoke for about half an hour and he basically gave me a lesson on how the music business worked and how I needed to go about getting “signed”. Thinking back on this, I realize how generous of an act this was. He took half an hour out of his schedule to explain the music business to an 11 year-old in a non-condescending way. Before we hung up, he congratulated me on taking the first steps to a music career and told me that he was convinced I would do big things. So how does this story translate to my current career? Well, I may not be an international superstar just yet (but if you have a second, I encourage you to research Nikole Kaye – I can kind of sing I think) but as a law student, my experiences in the music business have taught me to be innovative and creative in my job search.

For instance, in my first year of law school, I was looking for a part-time position in IP law, my sole area of interest at the time. I had no connections in Ottawa and certainly did not know the IP market. I decided to research every firm in the city that practiced IP and offered my services on a part-time basis. Sure enough, I was contacted by a not-for-profit organization a few days later and was offered a paid part-time opportunity during the school year that was posted nowhere. I guess what I’m trying to say is this. Don’t be afraid to get creative in your job search. Nowadays (take it from me your friendly neighbourhood recruiter!) every resumé looks the same and the profiles of people in each profession are almost identical. Develop a niche, come up with a plan and get creative. After that, the sky is the limit!

See you at the Grammy’s!


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