April 26, 2021 | By Starr Welk-Schwartz | Back to blog

Up until March of last year, I always imagined that I would work in the music industry.

All throughout my undergraduate career at UW, I worked at local music venues and was very involved with the Wisconsin Union Directorate-Music Committee (WUD Music), which programs live music at the Terrace, Der Rathskeller, and other on-campus venues. If you’ve been to the Terrace in the last four years and there was a band on stage, I might have played a part in it!

Through WUD Music, I applied to go to SXSW, a music, film and culture festival in Austin, Texas. I saw this as my ticket into the industry; I was about to graduate one month after attending the festival, and I believed the networking opportunities were bound to land me my dream job.

On March 6, 2020, I received the news that SXSW was cancelled.

I was crushed. Just as artists go to this event to be discovered, I expected the same of myself. As more and more industries were shutting down due to the spread of COVID-19, I lost hope. I knew it would be impossible to find a job in music during a global pandemic.

Just as I was believing that I was out of options, I received an email from my advisor in the Art History department, detailing this new one-year program in the Bolz Center. With encouragement from my advisor at WUD Music, I applied. Clearly, I was admitted (or I wouldn’t be writing this today).

The ACE program and the staff of the Bolz Center has restored my hope and expanded my realm of possibilities in ways I never thought I could do on my own.

My applied learning placement as a Digital Fundraising Intern at PBS Wisconsin helped me discover a love of nonprofit fundraising, using my marketing skills in a new way. The Spotlight Speakers who shared their experiences and trajectories after their time in the Bolz Center has showed me that there is so much that I could do with this degree. My coursework has given me a confidence in my skills, as well as the ability to transfer them into new contexts.

A year ago, I would not have guessed that I would be in a Master’s program. I was so worried about my future, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like the door was shut yet. Today, I feel so much more prepared to find a job. I am looking with such a broader scope than before, due to all the inspiration given to me by my fellow Bolzies. And as live music is making a slow return, there is still a possibility that I could live out my dreams! With this new hope, I truly feel like my opportunities are endless.