Meet Alfonso Alvarez, Director of Career Development at F.I.R.S.T. Institute in Orlando, FL. Interestingly enough, he started off wanting to be a Miami rapper as a teen. So, he and his friends opened up their own independent record label, right out of high school.
Very quickly, Alvarez realized that the performing side of the music industry was just not for him. In the meantime, he found himself falling in love with the business side, however. He specifically found interest in how to market a song, and take it from the studio, all the way onto radio.
A Music Business Entrepreneur Was Born
His very first client was the infamous Priority Records. They gave him the opportunity to work for them on retainer. At the time, his salary was $300 per month. He shows pride as he tells us that he did wonders with that hot opportunity!
Eventually, Alvarez built that $300 per month business into a $150,000 per year empire. And, he did it just by marketing songs for record labels.
Somewhere around 2008, Alfonso found himself on tour, raising two kids. School just wasn’t his stepson’s thing. So, he sat down with young Chris one day and asked him, “What is it that you want to do?” The teen told his stepfather that he wanted to do music.
Alfonso Alvarez notes that he tends to think outside the box. And, this is what prompted him to withdraw Chris from high school. Then, he put the teen in his bedroom… to work on music, the career advisor says.
Soon, it seemed like everyone in the neighborhood was at their house recording.
Chris started to develop a groove, getting better and better at making music. That’s when Alfonso decided it was time for the young man to learn some professional techniques and things like that. So, together, they went on tours at various music production schools.
Chris Chooses F.I.R.S.T. Institute’s Audio Production Program
Books just aren’t Chris’ thing, says his stepdad. This led him to the realization that F.I.R.S.T. Institute was the place for him after leaving the tour of the Orlando campus. He wanted the hands-on approach F.I.R.S.T. offers in its Recording Arts program students.
The teen enrolled in the program, graduated and moved to Los Angeles, CA. There in L.A., he has been working on music ever since.
For his latest project, he worked on the Dangerous Woman album for Ariana Grande. Chris produced seven songs on that album! Christopher “Tito JustMusic” Trujillo has been recognized for his Engineer work on Dangerous Woman, which has been nominated for a GRAMMY Award. How exciting!
And, that’s the story of how Alfonso Alvarez first came across F.I.R.S.T. Institute.
Alvarez’s Job as F.I.R.S.T. Institute’s Career Development Director
Now, Alvarez works at F.I.R.S.T. Institute as the music production school’s Director of Career Development. He says the highlight of his job is when he’s talking to a student, and he can visually see “that light turn on.”
At first, students may feel lost, and not feel secure in the fact that there’s something out there for them. He loves being able to sit down with them and help them come up with a plan. That’s when he sees that lightbulb go off. Then, they head out the door, and simply make it happen.
As the Career Development Director, Alfonso is always calling F.I.R.S.T. Institute alumni after they graduate. And, there’s no time limit to it either. He’s contacted students that graduated from the music production program 4-5 years earlier. That’s when he found that they had left the industry, and wanted to get back into it. Alvarez was able to help them get back inside the game.
Using the Tools of F.I.R.S.T. Institute’s Career Development Weeks
Week 1 – About three months after students enroll into a program at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, they take part in their first week of career development. That week, the focus is on teaching the students how to go out and find their own internships.
They are taught how to do resumes, cover letters, interviews and how to network, as well as techniques to use to accomplish these tasks. Students are also shown what the job outlook in the US is like at that current time.
The instructors talk to them about the various job opportunities open to them after completing a specific program. They are guided towards the right job sites to for their industry and niches. These tools give the students good ideas of the opportunities that exist for them in the job market today.
Week 2 – A second week of career development takes place closer to graduation. This week focuses more on entrepreneurship. That’s because the industry is based on a great deal of freelance work. The average person will sit around and wait for business to come to them. But, Alvarez says, this just is not going to happen.
“They have to go out there and find it,” he notes. And, these are the techniques the F.I.R.S.T. Institute students learn during the second week of career development.
During entrepreneur week, the students learn how to put an invoice together. They learn the various types of business entities, such as sole proprietorships, LLCs, corporations, etc… This helps the students determine the most efficient ways for them to form their own companies.
The students also learn the importance of having teams in the music production business. For example, you may want to hire an entertainment attorney or corporate attorney to make sure things are done right.
By this time, they’ve been exposed to different aspects of the Recording Arts program. This makes it the perfect time to review some of the things they went over during week one’s career development. All of these tools help them gain a better perspective on what they want to do, career-wise, after graduating from F.I.R.S.T. Institute.
The Career Development Director says he also sits down with each student and checks out their social media profiles. It’s important to ensure that it’s in line with the brand the student is trying to create and build.
Career Development Services are Always Available
Once the second week of career development is over, Alfonso Alvarez says his office door is still open to the students. Student can make appointments with him at any time.
But, at this point, the main focus is only finding them the opportunities they’ll need after graduation. Once they graduate, his job is to continuously follow up with the alumni, to see how things are going in the new careers.
Alfonso Alvarez: Persistency Is Key in This Industry
Alfonso’s advice to potential students and graduates is that “you have to stay persistent.” Persistence is very key to becoming successful. Many people will give up along the way. And, perhaps many won’t believe in what you’re trying to accomplish.
But, being persistent is about changing your approach, if the one you’re using isn’t working. It’s about adapting to the new approach, and making the opportunity happen for you.
Some say that luck is all about when opportunity meets being prepared. At F.I.R.S.T. Institute, Alfonso Alvarez says, you’ll learn what it takes to be prepared for “that” opportunity.