By Miya Williams Fayne
Unique DaCosta is interacting with music on a multitude of levels. She has a background in singing and is currently participating in the business side of the industry with like-minded people at Pandora. “The culture at Pandora is pretty awesome because everybody loves music and it’s a given,” she said. “It is such an integral part of what we do and how we operate here.”
The Illinois native currently works at Pandora’s headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area as the creative operations assistant. Pandora is unique in that it has an internal creative agency that works with various music, automotive, retail and consumer goods companies on projects ranging from graphic design to voiceovers for audio commercial spots. DaCosta’s primary responsibilities are budget tracking, coordinating and executing team meetings and offsite events, and assisting with onboarding new hires.
DaCosta first worked at Pandora as an employee experience and inclusion intern as part of MSLCE’s experiential learning requirement. During that time she learned about the opening for her current role and applied. She loves the variety that comes with her position given the breadth of her duties. “I never feel bored,” she shared. “As much as some elements of my job are very consistent or static week to week, there are always fun new duties added to my plate.”
DaCosta also serves as executive assistant to the company’s Vice President and Executive Creative Director Lauren Nagel. She provides administrative support to Nagel and works closely with the company’s project managers, producers, designers, copywriters and videographers. DaCosta is grateful for the networking opportunities that MSLCE provided as they put her in contact with many industry professionals. She shared, “As an executive assistant to a senior leadership member now, I definitely am glad that I was able to experience face time with people of that stature because it really provided me with the confidence to work closely with those individuals now.”
The recent grad also credits the MSLCE program with giving her a foundational knowledge of the creative industries. She is especially appreciative of the people she met through the Speaker Series as she has been able to directly transfer the information she learned from it to her current position. “That was a great opportunity to get to know a lot of industry leaders with diverse backgrounds,” she said. “That gave me unparalleled insight into some of the struggles and sweet spots about working in the creative realm.”
While in the MSLCE program, DaCosta was sure to take advantage of the various courses and events and recommends that current students do the same—even if the topics don’t directly align with their interests. “You are not always going to be interested in some of the course topics and speakers that come in if it’s not exactly what you want to do, but participate, show up and make the most out of the experience,” she advised. “You never know what connections you will make just by being in the room with the right person.”
Looking back, DaCosta views Laverne McKinnon’s course on The Power of Pitching and Persuasion as being particularly helpful for her personal and professional development. She explained, “I was really encouraged to be introspective and use what I know and learned about myself through the course to enhance my ability to craft my presentations well and pitch them with passion and conviction.”
DaCosta began the MSLCE program with the intention of working in music at a record label or multimedia company. Although she believes she is currently doing just that by working in music and tech she shared, “my dreams have elevated.” DaCosta now wants to be an executive at a music streaming or multimedia company and eventually work for herself in the industry.
In the meantime, she is staying busy with other music-related passions. While completing her bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University, DaCosta started a podcast along with her best friend. The two are now revamping it to include more interactive and creative elements and plan to re-launch in spring 2019. Also as an undergraduate, DaCosta spent some time DJing. Although she has not created mixes in a while, she recently decided to pick the craft back up for fun. She loves that she is able to connect with other people at Pandora who are DJs, audio engineers, producers and artists. “It’s a such a blast being able to work professionally with fellow creatives and then to reconvene outside of work and collaborate on personal projects that celebrate music and artistry,” she shared. “It just makes you love your job way more.”