I was the operations manager at the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra before coming to Yale. I did marketing, database management, box office work, a little bit of everything. But I wanted to take on more of a leadership role. I made a list of all the executive directors of arts organizations that I loved and respected, and noticed that the vast majority had gone to Yale. When I visited the SOM campus—I know it’s what everyone says, but I was blown away by the people I met.
I also loved that you can also take classes at other schools across campus. Yale has one of the best MFA programs in the country. Last semester I took a course at the School of Drama, which was a great way to expand my network and gain some insight into another side of the arts business.
I had only worked in the arts sector, but I quickly realized there’s a lot more out there. The career options at SOM are pretty open-ended, but I tried to find a theme from my earlier work. I realized that what I enjoyed most was trying to bring arts organizations into this century by using tech tools like data analysis. I now know the term is “digital transformation.” To gain some hands-on experience, I interned at a digital marketing company in Charlotte, North Carolina, called Red Ventures. It’s only 15 years old, but it’s grown exponentially. My team worked on the digital marketing strategy for a major global tech company. I was in charge of strategy for the app marketplace.
Some of the things I learned in the core classes came in really handy. From Innovator, I borrowed a lot of the ideation activities we did in class to encourage my team members to become more creative. And Customer was super relevant, especially the parts about performing testing up front. The behavioral economics aspects from a lot of my classes that examined why people do the things they do were all really helpful.
I tell people that Yale SOM might just be the best two years of my life. I love this community. A story I like to tell prospective students is that in my Modeling Managerial Decisions class, I was really struggling at first because I hadn’t used Excel since undergrad. There were a bunch of engineers in the class, and someone in my cohort saw the confused look on my face, came over, and said, “Hey, are you doing OK?” I told him, “I don’t know what’s happening, and I don’t even know where to start to learn this.”
He booked a breakout room and sent out an invitation to everyone in our cohort that said, “I’m going to go through this example from class step-by-step, and you can come and ask all the questions you’ve been afraid to ask.” He wasn’t being paid. He was recruiting for consulting at the time, and he was very busy, himself. But he made time for us. That example is really representative of what most people at this school are like.