Mixing nightlife with student life: Q&A with a student/DJ/teaching assistant

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Balance: striving for it just might, ironically, throw you off. Balancing life and school can work one second, then turn into a logistical nightmare the next.

Sometimes, all you can do is try your best to make it happen.

Take DJ Aleksandra, a native of Stratford, Ont. She DJs across Ontario on a weekly basis, deals with two managers and studies hard in school. And right after answering these questions, she had to grade some assignments because she also works as teaching assistant. Talk about gettin’ busy!

Q. When did you start DJing and what got you started?

A. I started when I was 16 when I lived back home in Stratford. My brother had already been DJing and, when I would visit him in Toronto, I would play on his turntables and try to mix his vinyl. I had so much fun doing it I decided to buy my own turntables. It started just as a hobby. [I had] no major goals to play out or build a name for myself, but after I got a chance to play at a club in Waterloo that all changed and I knew I wanted to pursue this on a new level.

Q. Tell me a bit about what you’re studying at Ryerson.

A. I’m in the business management program, majoring in marketing management and minoring in international business. It’s a very good program but pretty demanding.

I’ve learned a lot and find a lot of the knowledge applicable to everyday life. I thought about going into a more creative field such as broadcasting or graphic design, but I knew with business there’s always a demand and you can earn a good living. Also, marketing is pretty creative so I’ve been happy with my choice!

Q. What song do you listen to the most? Why do you like it so much?

A. Hmm, that’s a tough question because I get new music all the time that I need to listen to and get familiar with. Some recent favorites are Deadmau5 & Chris Lake – I Said (Michael Woods remix) and Lutzenkirchen – I house you. I look for tracks with catchy beats and/or full, driving bass lines.

Q. You work as a teaching assistant. What does your professor think of your second job? Has she ever seen you live?

A. She thinks it’s great and encourages me and asks me about it sometimes. She’s never seen me live (not that I know of anyway).

Q. Do you have career goals outside of the music industry?

A. Yes, of course, but nothing too specific because of the economic downturn. If I get a marketing position with a decent wage that I enjoy waking up to then I will be happy! But of course I want to and will keep pursuing the music path.

Q. Do you apply your business management skills in your music career?

A. Oh yes! There’s a lot of self-promo and marketing that comes with the territory so I think with all my studies it’s just becoming natural. Plus I really enjoy that side of it. I guess an example would be my website, which I made with the help of a friend of mine and that I update regularly.

Q. Does your music (both your experience with the industry itself and performing) help you in any way in school?

A. Hmm, I’ve never thought about it that way. Maybe dealing with the bookings and such, but now I have two agents that handle that.

Q. What advice can you give to other busy people such as yourself?

A. As Tim Gunn would say: “Make it work!”

It can get pretty stressful sometimes especially when time is against you, but if you keep yourself grounded and keep your loved ones close, you can get through it. Time management is important and so is school so always aim to do your best. I’m a bit of a nerd so I always strive for good grades!  But when time is really limited, I do my best.

Balance: trying to strive for it just might throw you off. Life can be a crazy party one second—then a logistical nightmare the next. Sometimes, all you can do is try your best and make it happen.

Take DJ Aleksandra. A native of Stratford, ON, she DJ’s in Toronto and around Ontario (right now, on a weekly basis), deals with two managers and studies hard in school. And right after answering some questions, she has to grade some assignments—she also works as teaching assistant. Talk about gettin’ busy!

We caught up with this bass-blasting bookworm to chat about music, school, and putting it all together without falling apart.

When did you start DJing and what got you started?

I started when I was 16 when I lived back home in Stratford. My brother had already been DJing and when I would visit him in Toronto I would play on his turntables and try to mix his vinyl. I had so much fun doing it; I decided to buy my own turntables. It started just as a hobby, no major goals to play out or build a name for myself. But after I got a chance to play at a club in Waterloo, that all changed and I knew I wanted to pursue this on a new level.

Tell me a bit about what you’re studying at Ryerson.

I’m in the business management program, majoring in marketing management and minoring in international business. It’s a very good program but pretty demanding. I’ve learned a lot and find a lot of the knowledge applicable to everyday life. I thought about going into a more creative field such as broadcasting or graphic design, but I knew with business there’s always a demand and you can earn a good living. Also, marketing is pretty creative so I’ve been happy with my choice!

What song do you listen to the most on your iPod/generic mp3 player? Why do you like it so much?

Hmm, that’s a tough question because I get new music all the time that I need to listen to and get familiar with. Some recent favorites are Deadmau5 & Chris Lake – I Said (Michael Woods remix) and Lutzenkirchen – I house you. I look for tracks with catchy beats and/or full, driving bass lines.

You work as a TA. What does your professor think of your second job? Has she ever seen you live?

She thinks it’s great and encourages me and asks me about it sometimes. She’s never seen me live (not that I know of anyways!)

Do you have career goals outside of the music industry?

Yes of course, but nothing too specific because of the economic downturn. If I get a marketing position with a decent wage that I enjoy waking up to then I will be happy! But of course I want to and will keep pursuing the music path.

Do you apply your business management skills in your music career?

Oh yes! There’s a lot of self-promo and marketing that comes with the territory so I think with all my studies it’s just becoming natural. Plus I really enjoy that side of it. I guess an example would be my website http://djaleksandra.com/ that I made with the help of a friend of mine and that I update regularly.

Does your music (both your experience with the industry itself and performing) help you in any way in school?

Hmm, I’ve never thought about it that way. Maybe dealing with the bookings and such, but now I have two agents that handle that.

Holy Cow, you’re a busy girl! What advice can you give to other busy people such as yourself?

As Tim Gunn would say: “Make it work!”

It can get pretty stressful sometimes especially when time is against you, but if you keep yourself grounded and keep your loved ones close, you can get through it. Time management is important and so is school so always aim to do your best. I’m a bit of a nerd so I always strive for good grades! But when time is really limited, I do my best.

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