My name is Kazia Nowacki and I graduated from the Music Industry Program in 2013 with minors in Business Administration and Video Production. Currently, I am the Documentary Crew Coordinator for Pixar Animation Studios. We develop and produce all of the behind the scenes footage for the movies and shorts, in addition to other marketing and creative content.
How does your experience within the Music Industry Program at Drexel compare to your actual experience now that you are out in the field?
Since I was very interested in a career in audio for video, I coupled my Music Industry studies with those of the Film & Video and (at the time) Digital Media programs. One of the Drexel experiences I had was being the MIP Studio Scheduler within the Music Industry Program, which became directly related to my career as a Coordinator. The other key Drexel experience I had was being the GRAMMY U Representative and a member of The Recording Academy. These experiences, along with many others, exposed me to a variety of aspects of the entertainment industry.
As a Coordinator, I’m responsible for setting up a vast number of events, meetings, and shooting schedules that cover everything in the production process. I have to be knowledgeable about what’s going on in other departments and shows, which requires communication and developing relationships with other co-workers. For each project we produce, I coordinate all parts of development from pre-production and shooting, to post-production sound, color, and effects. Knowing the process and understanding the time constraints are basic components of my job. But I think what made me stand out to my employer was that I set high standards for quality, pay attention to detail, understand dealing with clients, collaborate well with others, and can not only work in, but excel in, an intense, driving, and fast-paced environment. These traits are the ones I absolutely attribute to Drexel University and, specifically, the Music Industry Program.
Have you had any “AHA “ moments that you would like to share, either during your Drexel days or post-graduation?
Yes. If you are interested in the entertainment industry, everyone will tell you, “It’s all about networking.” When I first heard that, it went in one ear and out the other. It wasn’t until I was looking for my first co-op that I realized how absolutely true this is. Every job or internship I’ve had since 2009 has been because someone in Drexel knew someone in the industry. And it’s not just knowing someone - it’s developing a relationship with that professor, mentor, or professional who knows you well enough to say “I’m betting my name and my reputation that this student is not only good enough for this position, but is the best person for this job.” Then, of course, you should be able to back it all up with the required skills and the willingness to learn.
Can you talk about ways in which Drexel’s co-op program helped you to determine your career and professional goals? Where did you co-op and what was your experience like?
I had two co-ops - my first co-op was at an independent post-production facility in Philadelphia, Philadelphia Post. My second, was with Fox Networks Engineering & Operations in Los Angeles (later to be my first full-time employer). Drexel’s co-op program forced me to find opportunities outside of my comfort zone - ones that weren’t so right for me, and ones that lead to the best experiences of my life thus far. After interning with Fox, I knew that I wanted a career that required both managerial and business administrative skills, along with the thorough understanding of technical operations, in the entertainment industry. My co-op with Fox was so successful, they hired me after graduation.
How would you describe your growth as both a student, and as an active member of the music industry, from your start as a freshman to the current day?
It’s hard to look back and remember where I started, because I have come a long way. Although my current job does not fall within the scope of the music industry, I’m still an active member of The Recording Academy, Audio Engineering Society, and a few music-related groups at Pixar. Since being a freshman, I’ve learned how to be more self-confident in my decisions, patient and trusting that any hard work will pay off in the end, and that meeting people and networking is one of the biggest keys to success in this industry.
What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years?
I’m still trying to figure that out. One of my life goals (since I was in 4th grade) was to get a job at Pixar - something I wasn’t even thinking I’d obtain for a long time. I think I have a lot of opportunities ahead of me. I have the ability in my role to make decisions that affect worldwide-released products, even if it’s in a small way, and to collaborate with some of the most brilliant people in the world. Within the next five years, I can only hope to grow as a leader and use that knowledge to give back to students. I think eventually I’d want to be a producer or director - it’s absolutely fascinating what they do. That will probably take a while.
Were there any particular classes or professors that helped you to decide on your career path, or which you would recommend to future MIP students?
I honestly did not have one bad professor or class at Drexel. To me, MIP was such an amazing major because of it’s small size, and because it covers many facets of the industry, despite your “track.” The most valuable parts of my Drexel education that have served me extremely well in my career so far are the following:
1) The quality and networks of the professors there. I felt I was able to personally connect to many of my professors, especially in Music Industry and the rest of Westphal College - and that is because they are extremely genuine, brilliant, and knowledgeable. They have outstanding resources and connections to offer to students, if those students are willing to connect with them.
2) I was able to join and experience other organizations and parts of the industry because of both the professors’ and university’s connections, such as The Recording Academy and the Audio Engineering Society. I’ve gone to the GRAMMYs twice and met so many people in the music industry in Los Angeles because of these organizations.
3) The Alumni Association is a fantastic group, especially when you’re moving to a city where you hardly know anyone. Los Angeles has one of the largest groups of Drexel Alumni outside of the tri-state area. It’s a great way to meet people and network.
Any last words or take-aways you’d like to shout out to our prospective students and their parents about our program and your experience?
Drexel is not meant for everyone. For those who understand the demands of the program and the fast-paced environment of not only a quarter system, but of a technically proficient and career-prepping major, the rewards can be invaluable. The entertainment industry is tough on so many levels. Whatever your definition of success is, I believe that the professors at Drexel and in the Music Industry Program will prepare you for it. I am so grateful to everyone there for being a part of my success.