Carly Summer

Dear JOCRF,

My name is Carly Sumner and I am a college senior, double majoring in Psychology and Pre-Med. I was tested about a year ago, and at that time had just completed all of my pre-med courses; however, although I had done well in the courses I was unsatisfied with my medicine-related extracurricular activities and felt I was working too hard for my grades. I thought that another conference with you might be able to help me understand this, and maybe offer me some alternatives.

Reviewing my scores at the follow-up conference clarified why I was having such difficulties with the pre-med courses. A couple of months ago I finally decided to drop pre-med and pursue another career, such as a speech-language pathologist, to incorporate my auditory aptitudes, which—along with Silograms, Foresight, vocabulary and Ideaphoria—were my highest scores.

Considering a major change

But since the follow-up conference, I have also been seriously considering some of the other professions JOCRF suggested to me, especially those having to do with music. This makes sense, as I scored very high on all three of the auditory tests. I've been playing, composing, and listening to music for as long as I can remember. Although there are certainly careers that incorporate auditory aptitudes into the psychology training that I already have completed, I recently realized that simply having an outlet for my auditory aptitudes is not enough. Music is my true passion and I really need to make it a major part of my career.

I always dreamed of a career in music and when I was a child my music teachers urged me to pursue that. But performance anxiety (which has now greatly subsided) and a feeling that I should pursue a more practical career led me to rule it out for a long time, and now the thought of actually doing it is really exciting.

Now that I have discussed the prospect of pursuing a career in music with my family, friends, and a couple of people in the music business, I think I am ready to make a major change and try this out, even though it will take some more formal music training and a lot of confidence!

Aptitudes and music?

I've been considering some specific careers that could be good for me and investigating how to get into them, but I am feeling a little confused as to how to best apply my other aptitudes to a career in music that has at least a pretty good chance of working out. For example, the one that appeals to me most is being a music producer, because it uses my skills for picking out what sounds good in a song or what fits a certain musical genre, as well as Ideaphoria for composing and marketing purposes. This would even use Silograms for learning the terminology of all of the technical equipment involved in recording. I also figure that Foresight could come into play in deciding which artists could one day make it big.

I know I love being in the recording studio, because I do have some experience with that. But what I am afraid of is that producers are often in executive positions, and I scored Subjective which I understand is less typical for managers and executives. I also wonder if Structural Visualization is important if I am going to be working with all of that technical equipment. And the biggest issue is that although I am skilled at several instruments and have performance experience, I have little formal training and have a lot to learn in terms of music theory and history. I know it will be difficult to catch up on this knowledge, but I am willing to do it if it's possible. Basically, I just don't really know how to combine my aptitudes to find a suitable career in the music industry, and I was wondering if you could help me.

I know this is such a mouthful, I'm sorry for the long email! I just wanted to give you some background so that you'd better understand the situation. If there's any advice you would like to give or any career suggestions in music that you have given my aptitudes I would greatly appreciate it, or if you think it would be best to schedule another follow-up I would consider that as well. Thanks so much for the help I have received from you thus far, it has been great.

Thanks! Carly Sumner

Dear Carly,

All of the ideas you mention as related to your aptitudes and interests are right in line with your pattern—there is no “best” choice of what you listed. You also seem to grasp pretty clearly the significant scores in your pattern, which is always very helpful to be able to do. If you’re starting to feel that being a musician (composer, producer, teacher) is really what you need to do with your life, then perhaps its time to seriously look into what it would take to pursue that path. You seem to be well aware of what you might lack in terms of formal training and other related learning, but the first step is finding out more. Obstacles can be overcome (which is where foresight can be of great value), if the ultimate goal is something you have your heart set on accomplishing.

As far as being Subjective vs. Objective, both roles are available in most careers. You take jobs based in part on getting to work the way you naturally do. So, you could be an Objective producer (available and willing to work with musicians and music of many genres) or a Subjective producer (who works only with, say, bluegrass musicians or Latin music, or who works with a variety of artists but puts his or her “personal stamp” on the product ). I don’t know that being Subjective would prevent anyone from being a music producer. Further, I’m not sure that one would necessarily need to be a very strong 3-D thinker (that might be the job of the audio engineers) to succeed, but that you might find out by interviewing music producers, if you can.

It would be nice if we were able to tell you, definitively, that option A is the best thing to do, or that option B is! We encourage clients to primarily consider their aptitudes, but also to take into account things like how much training or education is necessary, what is the occupational outlook like in terms of job growth, their personal values and beliefs, and other criteria.

I hope this has been helpful, and feel free to reply with further questions or to let us know what you’ve decided.

Dear JOCRF,

I hope all has been well since we last spoke in September. I apologize for the late response; I intended to thank you for your helpful advice much sooner. I am extremely grateful for your response and, after doing a lot of research and talking to music producers, I have decided to pursue that path, or at least some path in music. I am open to change as I experience more and more of the music world. It certainly hasn't been an easy or fast decision, which makes sense I guess since it is a pretty big change to make.

The biggest problem was that I kept letting my decision be swayed by other people's opinions (which, in a high-achieving environment like my school, are not always in line with the idea of abandoning a perfectly stable career path to pursue a music career) rather than listening to myself. After so much agonizing over it, I realize that it actually is a pretty easy decision; there's no question that music is my greatest passion, and the way I see it, life is too short to be devoted to something that isn't your passion.

It was difficult to admit to myself that my place in life is an artist and a creator rather than a problem-solver or curer of diseases, although I believe that I will always be involved somehow with autism research, whether it be writing about it for a column, attending journal club meetings, or volunteering in clinics. Autism awareness will always remain one of my greatest interests and I will try to work it into my life somehow.

An update on plans: I'm in my second semester and am taking all music classes, (although I have kept my part-time job at the hospital in an autism research lab) including a music producing and a songwriting class, both of which I am absolutely loving, and took music theory last semester. I feel so much more in my element in these classes and now I know why. After graduation, I hope to base myself in Los Angeles and get a research job while checking out the music scene, and hopefully move to Boston if I get into Berklee College of Music's music production and composition program next winter.

Thanks so much for the help that Johnson O'Connor has provided in helping me discover how to use these aptitudes early on in life. I will keep you updated on how things are going and let you know if I have any more questions. Best of luck with research, and thanks so much again!

Carly Sumner