🎧 Episode 3: How I Decided: To Pursue a Career Making Music

Alex Yang
3 min readMar 25, 2024

Today I’m publishing Episode 3 of my podcast How I Decided. — How I Decided To Pursue a Career Making Music. My guest is Ilan Leventhal, one of my close friends from NYU (and the music producer for this podcast!). Ilan is now pursuing a career as a music composer, but in a bit of a unique way. Ilan spends time composing and recording but also has a job at Terracycle, a sustainability company, to financially support himself. And for this episode of How I Decided, Ilan has certainly made some commitment to pursuing music, but he still has the ongoing decision of whether he wants to dedicate all his time to music. In our conversation, Ilan discusses:

  • How he became passionate about music
  • How to be less hard on yourself when certain internships or roles don’t feel satisfying to you
  • The importance of taking some time after college graduation to reflect on what you want to do
  • What it’s like to manage two different career paths
  • How he’ll eventually decide whether to fully commit to music

🎙 You can listen to the episode on Spotify.

Things I took away from my conversation with Ilan:

  • If you’re feeling a lot of resistance or dread in pursuing a certain career path, maybe that’s a sign to take a step back and reflect on why you actually want to go this route. Ask yourself why is there a feeling of resistance? Is there another path that you’d be much more eager to take?
  • You shouldn’t be so quick to blame yourself if things aren’t working out at your internship, maybe the role just isn’t right for you. And if you’re struggling with finding the right role, maybe instead consider industries that appeal to you and going about your job/internship search from that angle.
  • If we have multiple interests we should be fine with pursuing those simultaneously, especially if we don’t feel stretched too thin. Many of us don’t just have one singular interest.

Where to find Ilan

Where to find Alex

A few thoughts regarding my conversation with Ilan. What’s interesting about his decision is that it’s ongoing — when does he want to commit fully to music, if at all? In this situation, what’s great is that Ilan isn’t pressured to make the decision by a certain time and he can simultaneously improve both of his options, meaning that he can strengthen his work experience by working at Terracycle while also improving as a musician and exploring creative ideas. If one path appears to progress faster than the other and/or starts to take more of his time, perhaps that’s a natural point for Ilan to consider what he wants to do.

Decision-making can be difficult when you’re pressed to make the decision by a specific deadline. But if you aren’t restricted by time, why not see if you can improve your options and delay the decision until later? Jordan Peterson talks about this idea as well, explaining how many people that ask him for decision-making advice are already stressing about decisions before key information even reveals itself (i.e. stressing about whether to go to law school or medical school when you haven’t gotten admitted into either).

Not every decision has to be all or nothing, so the next time you feel like you have a tough decision to make, ask yourself whether there’s a strict deadline, and if not see if you can somehow work to improve your choices and cultivate them simultaneously.

If you have any feedback for the podcast I’d love to hear it! I’m continuing to experiment with the podcast and looking for ways to improve the overall product, so I’m always excited to hear about new ideas or suggestions.

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Alex Yang

How I Decided Podcast | Articles about Career Choices and Decision Making