Brigid Babbish joined On Deck First 50 after COVID-19 put her past industry, classical music, on indefinite hiatus overnight. Brigid has now found a role — a copywriter for a startup called Monthly — that suits both her creative background and her interest in startups. Monthly creates hands-on, month-long classes with top tier creative instructors, including Charlie Puth, Christina Tosi and Mark Rober.
We spent time with Brigid to talk about her OD50 experience and how it helped her find her next opportunity. The following has been transcribed from that conversation.
Startups and Classical Music
I had always been attracted to startups — particularly because of the dynamism of early-stage companies where everyone’s role changes almost daily and the company's direction is in constant flux during the search for product-market fit.
In that respect, startups are the polar opposite of my life in classical music. I spent a lot of my adult life pursuing a career there [in classical music], a profession that prides itself on tradition and specialization. It was expected that once you joined an orchestra, you would work with them, perform with them and play the same type of music for your entire career.
Finding On Deck
The pandemic brought the classical music industry to a halt, and it was unclear whether or not it would ever recover. I studied music over the past decade, but I also dedicated a lot of time to the craft and study of writing. I wasn't sure how I could leverage my writing experience to help me with my career pivot. I needed something that would accelerate my learning and provide access to a larger network.
I discovered OD50 when one of my closest friends started working at On Deck. She believed in me and my skills and thought it could really help me with this next step. When I read about the program I knew it was exactly what I needed to be able to translate my experiences as a musician and a writer to a language that would help me succeed at an early-stage company.
I was so excited when I was accepted into the On Deck First 50 fellowship that I started checking Slack right when I was invited to join, even though it was a week before the fellowship started. I enjoyed checking the jobs channel, where opportunities that would interest the fellows were sourced and shared. I was in a car on a road trip from Big Bend, Texas back to my home in Michigan when I first read about the copywriting position at Monthly.
I was so intrigued that I wanted to apply right away. It just felt like the perfect fit in terms of mission alignment, what the job entailed and the stage of the company. However, the inner musician in me wanted to practice before going on stage. I rationalized that I should go through the fellowship and spend some time learning about the basics of the startup application process before pulling the trigger.
After I joined the fellowship, I wanted to meet with people that had experience in making a similarly large pivot into startups. There was a particular 1:1 meeting that changed how I was approaching the process. I spoke with someone who was previously an actor and they were able to help me reframe my mindset that I actually had a lot of skills that were valuable to startups. I simply had to translate from the language of the music industry into how the tech world communicated.
That 1:1 sparked a trend of connection. Everyone in the program genuinely wanted to best serve one another during their time together and most often that took the form of, “Have you had a chance to talk to x yet, I think you would totally bond over [insert topic]. Let me connect you!” By the end of the cohort, I had built a really strong group that I could discuss the ups and downs of the lengthy startup interview process. For example, I had initially found it odd when I hadn’t heard back for a few weeks after an interview but someone reminded me that at early-stage startups often the recruiter was also serving in many other roles and that they themselves spent 3 and a half months in their first interview process.
By the end of the program, one of the co-founders of Monthly presented at an Ed Tech-themed Talent Demo Day, giving me a direct link to the company where I was able to learn more about the position and to see if there was the right culture fit. Talent Demo Days are weekly events hosted by the On Deck First 50 Fellowship where startups pitch fellows to join their company before you get the opportunity to speak and engage with employees at the company in breakout rooms.
I officially joined the Monthly team in early May as a copywriter, looking to best communicate the amazing experiences we have available to our customers through our website and over email!
To learn more about the On Deck First 50 Fellowship, an 8-week program for operators who want to find their next roles at world-changing companies, click here.