For me, music and technology have been lifelong constants; I grew up listening to recordings of great musical masterworks even before playing an instrument. While younger, I often played video games when not studying or practicing. The games that most appealed to me were easy to play and contained great graphics, amazing special effects, compelling storylines, and fantastic music. I also remember my excitement at the Internet’s ‘90s debut; my older sister and I emailed each other and thus kept in touch even when she was too busy to talk over the phone. I was later a 9-year member of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) organization, which sparked my passion for music. In MYSO, I loved being part of a team, whether a symphony orchestra or string quartet. After high school, I attended the Eastman School of Music, where I used music notation software to write my own composition that I performed on my undergraduate degree recital. Subsequently, as a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student, I took a class that covered jazz improvisation. The course offered both a wonderful learning environment and my first introduction to overtones and their importance to “playing in tune.” I had to research for myself, however, as to exactly what overtones were and what they sounded like; there were no apps or websites that I found with clear indications as to either.
Enter the YWEB Career Academy: I’m currently a professional orchestral musician. For the first time, thanks to the program, I’m now also able to combine technology and music. The YWEB has helped me to unify both worlds and thereby “find my voice”. What attracted me to the program was how its graduates consistently and effectively use their acquired knowledge and skills to add value to the real world. This aspect distinguishes the YWEB from similar programs. I’ll always remember how thrilled I was when I first typed a line of code and saw the resulting webpage. It’s that type of discovery that I especially enjoy. The YWEB has equipped me with a plethora of both hard and soft skills, as well as a sound foundation for me to apply what I’ve learned to make my own meaningful contributions to society. My personal project, for example, has been a culmination of everything that I’ve learned over the years. I incorporated the aforementioned overtone frequencies that I chose into my website, as well as other relevant sounds. It was gratifying to be able to both see and hear the audio files that I uploaded to my site. After a recent orchestra concert, one of my fellow musicians complimented me on how well I played a tough part of the music we performed—after the fact that I worked on the project. The YWEB, then, has provided me with a heartening confirmation that my experiences outside of the IT industry are indeed applicable to that field and that context–and vice versa.
– Neil Gopal