Before the spring semester was even over I was planning my summer vacation. I decided to fly to Seattle, see Vancouver, and then road trip back to Chicago via Yellowstone, the Grand …
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I’m Ali, and I’m starting my second year in the Arts, Entertainment & Media Management MAM program at Columbia College Chicago. I am a musician, ex-law student, and aspiring arts manager! I am interested in entrepreneurship and one day hope to run my own business. In the meantime I’d like a job in the music industry, if you please!
Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.
I grew up in the UK about one hour outside of London. I became involved in music at a young age, maybe when I was four or five years old. My parents bought me my first instrument, a strange-looking junior size cello, but I didn’t take to it immediately. Actually I hated the cello and snapped the bow in half, prompting my parents to sell the instrument of torture and let my musical tastes develop naturally. A few years later, I took up the trumpet and truly began my musical career. The drums came into the picture shortly after, with guitar soon after that. Before long, I was playing in a band with my friends and was well and truly hooked on music.
Despite loving music so much, I ended up studying law at university in the UK (you know, because we’ll all need a “sensible” career). I can only describe this as like leading a double life. I was split between doing what I loved and doing what was safe. Outside of the classroom, I played in bands and also ran a live music night at the student union. After graduation, I worked in a law firm with the aim of going to law school and becoming, ahem, excuse my language, a lawyer. Before law school was due to start I decided to backpack around the world for five months. Midway through the trip, I realized that I really did not want to be a lawyer, so I withdrew my application from law school and went to…Korea. Weird I know, but it was the perfect way to travel some more and save for my next move, which was…grad school.
So here I am. I’ve been all over—not just with the places I have been, but also with my career. I am now entering my second year as an AEMM graduate student and learning valuable management skills in a creative environment. I have finally found the perfect mix.
Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?
I chose Columbia College Chicago and the AEMM program because I was looking for a graduate degree that would unite the creative world with the business world. I had been looking for a way to combine my love of music with a viable career for some time but never quite settled on a path. When I found out about the AEMM program at Columbia I was very excited. The program teaches us highly valuable management and business skills that can be applied to almost any industry. When I tell people what I study, they almost always say there are not enough good arts managers in the business. It is great to know that we have a bright future!
I actually discovered the program when I was living in Korea. There was a university recruitment fair in Seoul, and I found out that Columbia would be there. I took a day off work, headed to the fair, and within a few minutes of talking to the Columbia rep, I was sold. Everything about the AEMM MAM program seemed like the right fit for me.
Aside from what the program offered, I chose Columbia because of what I learned about the resources and networking opportunities offered to students. The college has strong ties with the arts, entertainment, and media scene—not only in Chicago but also across the US—and there are always networking events happening on and off campus. In addition, I discovered that the professors are always willing to put students in touch with industry leaders and organizations. Columbia just seemed like right the place to create a strong foundation upon which to build a career in the arts.
I should also mention that I was drawn to the fact that Columbia is in Chicago, an amazingly vibrant city with so much to offer. This is my first time living in the US, and I have to say that I love Chi-Town!
Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.
Well that is an easy question to answer: I am excited about this project. I am excited about being a Graduate Student Ambassador.
Anyone who has applied to a grad program will no doubt have experienced a certain level of trepidation along the way. It can be really overwhelming! Having been there and done that, I am really excited to be able to help anyone out who may be thinking about Columbia or has already applied. I am here to answer any questions you may have and give you the inside scoop. Whether you need to know about the program, the application process, life on campus, life in Chicago, or the world of AEMM, track me down and ask!
I am also excited to share my experiences via this blog. It will be an opportunity for me to write about life as a grad student at Columbia. I hope to inspire other people to choose the AEMM program and a life in Chicago. I already have a ton of ideas to blog about on a wide range of topics related to grad school, but I am also looking forward to making new discoveries that I can share with Marginalia readers.
That answer may not have been what the question was asking, so I will briefly talk about anther project I am excited about. This coming fall, I am taking the entrepreneurship class and cannot wait! My goal is to eventually run my own start-up, so I have already begun formulating ideas to explore in class. The course allows students to develop business plans parallel to the coursework, and I am looking forward to testing the viability of my ideas in a structured environment. It is an exciting time in the world of AEMM. There are so many opportunities for growth. I am excited to graduate next year with a firm business plan in hand, ready to start my career!