Erin Ay ’20

Alumni
Politics
2020

Erin discovered a love for the music industry through Oxy’s Core Program. She spent the next three years interning in almost every area of the industry, building expertise that helped her land her first job out of college.

Employer: Young&Vicious Music Publishing
Job Title: Junior A&R (Artist & Repertoire)

In what ways did a liberal arts education help shape your career aspirations?

In all honesty, I don’t think I would have ever found my love for the music industry without a liberal arts education and the Core Program. As someone who came into Oxy as a biochemistry major, I had no idea I could be as excited by a line of work as I am with the music industry—and I would have never known had I not taken a music class as my fine arts requirement during my sophomore year. Taking “Topics in American Music” with Professor Simeon Pillich taught me so much about the rise and fall of different genres, the origin stories of many major players in the music industry, and the intersection between society, culture and music—and every day I was excited to learn more. My love for that class inspired me to take another (and another and another through every remaining semester I had at Oxy!), and a semester later motivated me to pursue my first internship in the music industry. I’ve always loved music, but I never knew I loved it so much that post-grad I wouldn’t be able to picture myself in any other line of work, and I have Oxy’s liberal arts education to thank for that.

I’ve always loved music, but I never knew I loved it so much that post-grad I wouldn’t be able to picture myself in any other line of work, and I have Oxy’s liberal arts education to thank for that.

What inspired you to pursue a job in your current industry or field?

Similar to the above, taking my first music class was the catalyst that inspired me to pursue a career in the music industry. While I’ve taken many classes that I’ve absolutely loved, I had never been able to tangibly picture myself in a field that I’ve studied until I took my first ethnomusicology class. At the same time I started my ethnomusicology classes, I also found my politics major. Embarrassingly enough, my politics classes taught me very quickly that I never learned how to write effectively, and within a semester’s time my writing was whipped into shape through constant class readings, essays, discussion posts and writing assessments. Building my ability to concisely and effectively communicate my ideas (and then go on to defend them) through my politics major supplemented my love for music and ultimately helped me find my place in the business side of the music industry.

Describe the process you went through to land your first job. 

Following my sophomore year at Oxy, I was able to land an internship with a Hollywood recording studio learning digital marketing and artist relations, and was lucky enough to be brought back for a fall semester internship by the studio owners in the first half of my junior year. There are a lot of different players in the music industry, so in addition to my internship I spent a lot of time reading more about how the business side works and what types of jobs were out there. Through both my independent research and my general industry exposure via my internship, I pretty quickly narrowed down that I wanted to experience A&R (Artist & Repertoire) next, and was also keen to see what it would be like working at a major label. Many internship applications, interviews and visits to the career center later, I was able to walk into my junior spring with my dream internship working in A&R at Atlantic Records. I learned so much through my time at a label and absolutely loved being in A&R, but also knew I had so much more to learn and so many more aspects of the music business that I wanted to experience, and thus I secured a position in music PR the summer before my senior year.

Every facet of the industry taught me so much, and going into my senior year at Oxy I really felt like I started to have an understanding of the ebbs and flows of the industry. Working my internships didn’t feel like work—it was actually the most exciting part of each day. I loved working in music so much that I wanted to do everything I could to keep working in it throughout my senior year. Through another rigorous round of networking, applications, interviewing and even more trips to the Career Center, I was able to find a position in A&R working 10 hours a week at my current company, Young&Vicious Music Publishing. It was so enriching to return to my A&R roots from Atlantic, and I was eventually able to transition into a full-time A&R role at Young&Vicious following my graduation.

Did you utilize services and support provided by the Hameetman Career Center?

Absolutely! During my internship searches, I was almost in there once a week with Claudia [Aguilar]. The career center was a valuable resource for me in figuring out where to search for positions, how to format my resume, how to prepare for interviews and how to network.

Do you have any advice for current students, especially as it pertains to job search, working remotely, networking.

Put yourself out there! It’s so much easier said than done, but the best way to get the job is to expose yourself to any and all opportunities. Make an appointment at the career center, keep your eye on job boards, look up industry-specific career sites and mentorship programs and most of all utilize your Oxy network! Oxy alumni are everywhere, doing almost every job you could imagine. Take some time to chat with any alumni that are in fields or industries that you’re interested in and learn more about what they do. Some of the most enriching and enlightening conversations related to my career have been with Oxy alumni in my industry.