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Music business grads prep for uncertain job market

For upcoming Belmont graduates, the outside world can be an intimidating place.

And that’s especially tough when your field of study drops you into an extremely volatile music industry.

Music business majors, a group that makes up 27 percent of Belmont’s student population, could face a tough employment road ahead.

Caitlyn Cummins, a May 2012 Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business graduate, is one of the 22 percent of that class still actively seeking a job.

“It’s been pretty rough. The job market is super saturated right now,” Cummins said.

As for the graduates who have found employment, most are in entry-level positions making salaries between $22,000 and $26,000.

“Curb College graduates are mainly accepting assistant or coordinator level roles – all entry level,” said Tish Stewart, career development specialist for Curb College.

Stewart said students are typically taking either social media management or digital marketing positions. Some have accepted sales positions in the industry in promotions or licensing. Publishing companies have been hiring more and more candidates interested in royalty accounting.

The Curb College’s career development tries to keep tabs on the graduates and still provide help to alumni. Stewart said their records show 78 percent of Music Business graduates from May 2012 were not looking for full time employment six months after graduation.

“This could mean several things: that they accepted new full time positions, started their own companies, were actively pursuing their performance careers, enlisted in the military, pursued mission work, or were attending graduate school.”

But for the rest like Cummins, who were actively seeking employment, the search seemed endless.

“I still went out and networked and met with people, but nothing ever led to a job,” Cummins said.

Although the internship program in Curb College is highly successful, it does not guarantee a full-time position after graduation. Students must choose their internships wisely and try to find a company that best suits their needs and personality, Cummins said.

Cummins interned with Red Light Management and Soundcheck in Nashville, both big names in the music scene, as well as two companies in Los Angeles while participating in the Belmont West program.

“If I could do it over, I would’ve targeted smaller companies to intern with,” Cummins said, “It’s really all about who you know, and it’s really hard to build strong relationships at larger companies.”

Although jobs in the entertainment industry can be challenging to land, the general career climate for Belmont grads seems positive.

“The general career climate for Belmont graduates is very positive. Employers in the area think very highly of Belmont graduates, and we have many employers who contact us on an ongoing basis to recruit students and graduates,” said Rachel Walden, career development specialist with the Office of Career Services, which serves the entire Belmont student community.

Currently, she said employers are looking for students who have experience in certain areas, rather than just focusing on their major field of study.

“We consistently hear from employers that they are not necessarily interested in hiring particular majors, but are seeking graduates with specific skill sets or experience in their industry,” Walden said.

Students can make themselves much more marketable to employers by gaining relevant experience in their fields of study. They can do this by completing internships, working part-time jobs, volunteering or serving as leaders of a student organization.

The Office of Career Services provides help in many areas as students and alumni campuswide seek employment. Both the Office of Career Services and the Curb College’s career development specialists want to provide assistance in graduates’ job hunt.

“We serve all Belmont students and alumni, and can provide career coaching, resume and cover letter feedback, job search strategy, and interview tips,” Walden said. “Although the job market is improving, it can still take several months to find full-time professional employment.”

Both Stewart and Walden recommended that students start early to gain experience and contacts in their industry of interest while they’re students be proactive in their job searches.

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