3/07/2022 Alicia Morrissey

Standing Out From the Crowd: Unconventional Grad Shares Her Music Industry Journey

Most people pursuing a career in the music industry would major in music or business. Franklin & Marshall College alumna Elena Robustelli ’21 isn’t most people.

“My resumé says that I’m an American studies major with a concentration in media and pop culture, and recruiters have said that it’s atypical but applicable because I clearly understand social and cultural movements in a way that traditional business or music industry majors don’t necessarily learn,” Robustelli said.

Robustelli has been a musician her whole life and comes from a musical family (her sister, Vanessa Robustelli '21, was a music major at F&M). But when she was looking at colleges, Robustelli knew she didn’t want to major in music. She wanted leadership opportunities and a well-rounded liberal arts education that would give her a variety of marketable skills.

“I think this bodes really well for me because it makes me stand out in applications,” she said. “Because I go to a small school, it was easy for me to get involved and become a leader with the College Entertainment Committee (CEC).”

  • Elena Robustelli ’21 Elena Robustelli ’21

It was Robustelli’s experience with the CEC that landed her an internship with Atlantic Records, a recording label that represents artists such as Cher, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, and Ed Sheeran. Robustelli acquired her first taste of what a career in the music industry could look like by interning for a music festival her senior year in high school. After falling in love with this experience, she immediately joined CEC her first year at F&M. As a leader of CEC, Robustelli planned, promoted, and executed a variety of entertainment events for the F&M community. This experience—especially having to find and book new talent the day of a show after the original act canceled—stood out when she applied for an internship at Atlantic Records.

“Even if you’re not taking a music industry class, the experience of doing something ‘real world’ really stood out and impressed them,” Robustelli said. 

Since Atlantic Records, Robustelli has interned with Live Nation, a live entertainment company, for its Governor’s Ball Music Festival and most recently, Primary Wave Publishing, a music publishing company that represents artists such as Stevie Nicks, Alice Cooper, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, and Aerosmith. 

  • Elena Robustelli ’21 and the College Entertainment Committee team in fall 2019. Elena Robustelli ’21 and the College Entertainment Committee team in fall 2019.
  • Elena Robustelli ’21 poses by the sign for Atlantic Records, a recording label she interned with. Elena Robustelli ’21 poses by the sign for Atlantic Records, a recording label she interned with.

Robustelli said it's important to learn how to make your major valuable to a position and to pursue extracurricular activities — like CEC — that will give you hands-on experience, which she argues is irreplaceable. 

“My major in American studies has taught me how to write succinctly, think critically, and communicate effectively,” she said. “You can tailor the skills from your major to a variety of fields, but you need to know how to market yourself, your education, and your experience. I always say that if you don’t know how to market yourself, how can you market anyone else?”

Now graduated, Robustelli will be working as a talent researcher, a brand new role in the Creator Solutions department of TikTok.

"In my job, I’ll be bridging the gap between creators, brands, and talent agencies who want to monetize their presence on TikTok," she said. "I’m incredibly grateful to be starting a role that combines my experiences in digital marketing, brand partnerships, and talent booking."

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