So, you've graduated from college. Now what? Nothing fills your soul with equal parts exuberant triumph and debilitating anxiety quite like being thrown into the real world. Whether you're feeling confident or paralyzed by fear, many college graduates will be faced with similar post-college learning experiences. In this blog post, I'll be going over what you know, what you don't know, and some next steps and what to expect.
What You Know (or Should Know)
Assuming you were a fairly good student and kept your "Thirsty-Thursdays" and "Funday-Sundays" to a minimum, you know the fundamentals of your profession and craft. Aside from your ear training, music history, music theory, and general music fundaments, if you're a composer, you know how to write and arrange for various ensembles and how to analyze scores. If you studied film scoring, you should know how to create spotting notes, how to sequence music in a DAW, how to edit and mix audio, and how to compose emotion- and drama-driven music to picture.
Pretty standard stuff, right? I included this section, because its important to remember and be aware that you do in fact know these things as you move forward. Feeling confident with the fundamentals will also help when the inevitable soul-crushing self doubt kicks in. Plus, you'll want to include them on your resume.
What You Don't Know
I could have named this section "What You Think You Know". If you're lucky enough to find a job working for another composer or in a studio, or if you can find work as a freelancer, you will undoubtedly be asked to do things you never thought you'd have to do. Or you'll be asked to do something that you thought you knew how to do, only to find out that the people you work with do it a different way. This is the moment you realize "I went to college for 4+ years and I don't know anything". We've all been there. Do you know all of the various licensing terms in an agreement? Do you know how prepare cue sheets? What happens when the mixing console or some other gear malfunctions a few days before delivery? How about running out of printer ink at 4:00 AM while writing parts the day before a recording session? All of these problems were presented to me within 6 months after my graduation.
There really isn't any sure-fire way to prepare for these types of situations, it's just part of the process and it's the professional world testing you to see if you want it bad enough to stick through it. My advice to you is to learn how to manage stress and bounce back quickly. Brush it off and show the world you mean business.
Here are some options graduates might have:
What to Expect
As I mentioned in the "What You Don't Know" section, you will be faced with challenges. You may be faced with moments that will make you rethink your career choices, or even moments of fear of losing your job. In between projects, you may feel as if you will never find work again. But here's the silver lining: this is all completely normal and you're not alone. Industry veterans, your professors, your classmates, and I have experienced these challenges and moments of uncertainty. One of my fondest memories from my time at Berklee was hearing veteran film composer Alan Silvestri talk about how even he feels like he'll never work again when he's in between films. Apparently, his wife knows when he's stressing out when she finds him organizing his sock drawer.
So, college graduate, congratulations on joining the rest of us in the real world, we've been waiting patiently for you. Now, go out there and fulfill your destiny or something, and remember to enjoy the ride!
What is your next step now that you're out of college? Tell me about it in the comments below!
Film | Music
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