Answering the phone with a quick “hey” and “how are you doing,” Jimmy Wilkens, a Cleveland State University graduate making a name for himself with his band The Sonder Bombs, eases his way into a quick 15-minute phone call about his life after graduating.
Graduating from Cleveland State in 2015, Wilkens studied management and labor relations, which is a degree that has a particular focus on human resources.
While the program he majored in doesn’t have much to do with what he’s doing in his life right now, that doesn’t mean attending the program wasn’t valuable. According to Wilkens, the program has helped him significantly since he helped form the band back in 2016.
Being in a band is kind of like starting up your own business, Wilkens explained. Due to his background in business, he’s been able to handle a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities of being in the band, which has allowed the other members to focus on other tasks. Whether that be Willow Hawks (uke, vocals) working on songwriting, Eric Heald (drums) focusing on merch and other label-related things, and Kevin Cappy (the newest member and bassist) figuring out how to take the band’s live performance to the next level.
“A lot of bands struggle with getting their music out there because, when you’re in a band, you’re a creative person and you don’t think in terms of business,” Wilkens said. “I think the business school helped teach me that you yourself are a brand and [the importance] of networking.”
In today’s current scene, it’s apparent that a lot of bands feel as though playing in front of a bunch of people is enough to gain a rapid following, but there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that needs to be done to gain success. Between drafting up emails to networking with other bands, who are typically the ones that help out the most, there’s more to being in a band than just making music.
According to Wilkens, his business communication class helped him better understand how to communicate efficiently and effectively in a professional setting. One of the most important skills he took away from attending the class was how to draft an email properly.
“A lot of these emails I was sending sounded bigger and badder than what we were, and then we got put on good shows because of it,” Wilkens explained. “It also helps when we’re trying to get press. So when we’re trying to email blogs and publications to get someone to cover our music, you usually have to send an email first and the same skills apply there.”
Taking a concept that he learned from a business class, Wilkens realized rather quickly that the band is a business, and to succeed, they would have to find ways of setting themselves apart.
“I had one marketing class, but a lot of the concepts came up over and over again, and the thing that stuck out to me was companies that go above and beyond to do something different from everyone else,” Wilkens said. “So I look at the band the same way: the band is basically a business; we are starting a business from the ground up, so we have to do things that are above and beyond to make us stand out from the crowd and show that we care.”
Through networking with others to advertising their music online, Wilkens and the rest of his band have always kept the notion that they are their own brand in the back of their minds.
The business side of things is just one of the many aspects of being in a band, but it hasn’t phased Wilkens in the slightest.
The Sonder Bombs recently signed a deal with Take This To Heart records, which will release their debut album sometime this fall. Once the effort officially drops, the band will head on a string of tours.
Original story published Sept. 17, 2018 at the Cleveland Stater.
By: Beth Casteel
The Monte Ahuja College of Business has added a new Sales Certificate program to its curriculum.
According to the College of Business’ website, the Professional Sales Certificate will “provide opportunities for students by enhancing their fundamental knowledge and developing sales skills that are desired by industry.”
In doing so, the Sales Certificate program will provide students with a hands-on curriculum that will allow them to use learned skills and apply them in a real-world setting.
The dean of the Monte Ahuja College of Business, Sanjay Putrevu, Ph.D., said the hope for the program is to help students through training, to gain a skill set in the following areas: negotiation, persuasion and communication.
“It’s not just about selling, it’s about building relationships, proper communication, learning about the needs of the customer, and trying to emphasize it in the best possible way,” Putrevu said. “It’s going to give the students a professional skill set that enhances their ability to communicate and enhance their ability to research their potential clients.”
The certificate program requires students to take a minimum of 15 credit hours. For those who are interested in adding more courses, the program does offer additional classes depending on their area of interest.
“One of the reasons we actually built the certificate is [because it] can also be an add-on to any degree,” Putrevu said. “It’s an easy transition for some majors, but the advantages apply to several majors.”
As Putrevu noted, the school designed the program in a way that will allow those who aren’t business majors to join the program without any difficulties.
Created from the ground up, the school’s primary goal was to make sure it took out some of the constructural constraints, like certain prerequisites, out of the equation so all students, no matter the major, could enroll in the program without needing additional classes under their belt.
While the sales certificate program is still in its early stages, Putrevu remains optimistic for the program’s future. He said he hopes to reach as many students as possible, to allow them to hone the skills they have already learned in their existing major.
“The reason I am so enthusiastic to make this happen is [because it is] not so much a new requirement, it’s more like [enhancing the] skill set you already have training in [your existing major],” Putrevu said. “We want to bring those skill sets to the top, and this certificate is designed to do just that. It helps you market yourself better, helps you make yourself valuable to potential employers. So I would encourage as many students as possible to do this.”
Original story published Sept. 17, 2018 on the Cleveland Stater. You can read it here.
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