It’s easy to think of your first job as a tradeoff between money and passion. Either sell out for something stable and secure or eek out a meager existence doing what you love. We tell ourselves that work is supposed to be a grind – that a lucky few are blessed with the talent and good fortune to make millions following their passions, but that, for the rest of us, chasing a dream is an inherently risky and poverty-ridden path.
But what if that way of thinking is wrong? What if you could find a steady job that not only supported your financial needs but enabled and even encouraged you to pursue deeper passions? Tom Sikes ’11, the musician/ad salesman, will tell you that with enough patience and research, exploring a creative endeavor does not require breaking the bank nor working for it.
Sikes began playing music when he was in the fourth grade. In high school, he and some friends formed a six-piece band called Great Caesar. On weekends they’d jet off to New York and play gigs in bars across the city. “We were so young,” Sikes recalls, that “they’d make us wait outside until it was our turn to play, and then we’d have to run onstage, play our set, and get ushered out.” Throughout college, the band would reassemble on weekends in Boston or New York for recording sessions and shows.
As Sikes neared graduation, he faced a choice: continue to pursue music or move on. Like many Williams students, Sikes felt pressured to go towards a conventional career. “I was pretty caught up in doing what I thought I was supposed to do and what I saw my classmates doing. It felt like the only acceptable career paths were doctor, lawyer, banker, or consultant.”