My First Week at Spotify: Jessica Bain
It’s not every day you make a playlist that lands you a job. But our new Black History and Culture Fellow, 22-year-old Jessica Bain, did exactly that.
It started with Jessica’s posts on her Twitter and Instagram handle, @bainboozled. She tagged @SpotifyJobs and Head of Cultural Partnerships Xavier “X” Jernigan, and encouraged them to check out her online resume. It not only listed her technical qualifications, but showcased a deep knowledge and passion for black culture and music, and even included a “This Is Jessica Bain” playlist. Long story short, X was impressed, and Jessica landed an interview and ultimately got the job. Since then, her accompanying tweet has gone viral, garnering her well-wishes from over 200,000 inspired music lovers, and write-ups in HuffPost and Mashable.
In the past few days, Jessica finally set foot in the door of Spotify’s NYC office to start combining her passions—and, in true social-media-expert fashion, took videos to document the highlights of her first full week.
Monday: “Learning Where I Could Fit In”
On her first day, Jessica was welcomed with open arms—a lot of employees had already heard her story. But, like any other new employee, Jessica introduced herself in new hire orientation, started to get a feel for the space during the office tour, and was on-boarded via some introductory meetings. During her orientation, Jessica had the opportunity to learn about BLK, an Employee Resource Group (ERG) that she would be working with.
Jessica then met with the Social Impact team to learn “where my position was created from and how I could fit in,” she explained. “To start to think about transitioning the ‘Black History is Happening Now’ hub from what I saw when I applied—Janelle Monae highlighting Afro-futurism—to what I will be working on—Black Music Month and beyond." (Afro-futurism aims to combat a historically white science fiction genre by focusing on the stories and possibilities of black people in technologically advanced and futuristic settings.)
Tuesday: “Getting Hands-On in My Role”
Tuesday was chock-full of meetings, with Jessica’s first all-editorial meeting for the Shows and Editorial team, and a sit-down with the Ad Sales team. When she got a moment back at her desk, she started to program playlists for an upcoming Spotify and Netflix Luke Cage partnership, and booked her first work trip flight.
On Wednesday: “Giving My Input”
Another day, another meeting—but this time for the Rise, Spotify’s artist development program. The team talked about the current artists involved with the initiative and opened up the floor to recommendations—something Jessica was able to contribute to. "Just being able to give my input on an artist I knew about made me realize I was in the right place," she noted. “I was able to recommend an artist other people didn’t know.”
On Thursday & Friday: “Putting Myself in the Big Picture”
Jessica traveled down to Atlanta, Georgia, for the Blavity Summit 21 conference on black female empowerment. Beyond attending the conference and participating in networking events, she also had the opportunity to sit down with fellow Spotifyers with whom she wouldn’t ordinarily be working. It was especially significant for her, she said, because some of the women there were the ones who had conceived of her position and then brought it to life.
“Hearing the story of how they formed [the position] and how they had this great idea but it was hard to actually execute, and yet they pushed it through anyway—that made me even more appreciative of my position,” Jessica said. “It made me remember how many people this position affects. I have gotten a lot of messages and tweets and DM’s about inspiring people to go after what they want… but for me to hear from the people who made the position possible was another thing entirely.”
For Jessica, the role is still a dream come true. “Growing up, and even now, I didn’t see a lot of black women in technology,” she explained. “I’ve always been really interested in black music, black history, black culture, and technology, but I didn’t think there was a way to combine them. But with a company like Spotify that focuses on music, and with a lot of music being made by black artists and black culture, when I saw this position, saw this description, it was exactly what I couldn’t put into words. It was what I wanted to be doing.”
Now, Jessica is closer to finding the clarity she’d been hoping for: Using music to make an impact. After just one week on the job, she has already left her footprint.