A lot of times, I’m impressed with myself if I can find a way to simultaneously ride my bike and wave to a friend across campus (it’s harder than it looks!). Unsurprisingly, IWU alum Peter Storms ’95 puts my attempted balancing act to shame. Storms has carved out two careers for himself over the years, one as an IT specialist and one as a musician. I recently interviewed Storms to see how he does it:
Said Storms, “I am currently employed full-time by the American Society for Clinical Pathology in the IT department. I do database maintenance, Crystal Report writing, web development, business analysis, and custom application development. I’m also self-employed as a pianist and theatrical sound designer and music director.
I graduated in 1995 with a double major in English and Anthropology. What I appreciated most about IWU was that the professors welcomed non-music majors into the ensembles and other music activities. I participated in Chapel Choir, Collegiate Choir, Wind Ensemble, and Orchestra, and I also accompanied music theatre classes, lessons, recitals, and dance classes. By having those opportunities, I continued to develop my skills throughout my years at IWU, while pursuing a degree in other areas that interested me just as much as music. If I had attended a school that only let music majors take part in ensembles, I might have gotten rusty or sidetracked into some other direction.
One of the keys for finding a balance between my two careers was picking the right company to work for. I’ve been with the ASCP for 13 years, starting as a temp. While there’s not a ton of money in working for a non-profit organization, they do tend to be more flexible than for-profit companies about work schedules and also more aware of the importance of work-life balance. It’s been relatively easy to schedule time off or adjust my work schedule as needed to be able to take music jobs. As long as I get my work done, that’s what matters.
Lately, the balancing act has become a bit more precarious. I’ve gotten to a point in both of my careers where I have opportunities and responsibilities that are much more involved and time-consuming (but also much more challenging and rewarding) than the types of projects I had worked on in the past. I can see the possibility of taking either of these careers to a new level and doing it exclusively, but I don’t think that’s something I really want to do. In the end, it’s all about balance and resources.
Because I only have so much extra time outside of my day job, I have to be selective about the projects that I take on and closely evaluate every opportunity. I need to feel like what I’m doing is worth my time and also worth the effort of making everything fit together timewise. The most valuable skill I’ve learned over the last couple years is the ability to say “no.