Jenna Conti '21 Cues Up a Career in Sound Engineering

As a new graduate, you might say Jenna Conti’s journey is just beginning. Yet, as a member of the class of 2021, she feels she and her fellow classmates acquired a little extra wisdom completing their degrees amidst many uncertainties of the pandemic.

Entering her freshman year at Mercy, Conti says she at first faced indecision in trying to select a major. One day, in conversation with a fellow student, she realized that the Music Production and Recording Arts program tied many of her interests together. “I was in choir in high school and I absolutely loved it. So, the idea of being involved in music and sound in a different way really was interesting,” said Conti. Once she stepped into Mercy’s dedicated multi-studio complex she felt certain about this career path. “It’s such a beautiful space to learn,” said Jenna. Over four years, she would rack up many hours of studio time, even becoming a student worker by the second semester of her freshman year.

Hands-on learning appealed to Conti during her time in the studio, fueling her passion for sound technology. Yet, all that seemed to come to an abrupt standstill during her junior year when the studio on the Dobbs Ferry Campus closed its doors amidst the pandemic shutdown. “Our program depends upon using the studio so it was really tough,” said Conti.

She says she and her classmates remained resolved in their studies. Using loaned equipment, working to improvise their individual at-home studios, she and others in the program leveraged their knowledge of technology to keep things seamless. “Creativity is a part of our industry,” said Conti who said added challenges forced her to advance her skills. She continually found herself having to adapt to the unique circumstances of her studies in isolation, but was all the while contemplating the importance of carrying on live performance and events.
Ending that isolation became the inspiration for her senior project, a virtual music festival which she launched this past spring. Her desire to regenerate the feel of a live campus event drove her commitment to organize the five-hour multi-act production which streamed live over YouTube. Following countless hours of planning, rehearsals and physical preparation for the event, watching the event come to fruition was confirmation of her career choice. “It was so cool to bring all of that together.”

This summer, Conti will bring her skillset to a position as the sound technician for a community concert series through the Town of Greenwich. As live events return, Conti felt added pressure applying for a job that attracted many applicants sidelined by pandemic-related unemployment. Still, she remained confident and landed the position. Looking to the future, she remains realistic about the resilience required in a career constantly in transition and regularly dominated by short-term projects and gig work. “In this industry, it’s a bit different than other jobs. You find these little jobs and they all lead to others and it’s about the connections you make.”

Awarded the Alumni Achievement Award at her commencement this past spring, Conti is eager to embark on a career in live music production. In a time when so many have been apart for so long, she feels an energy happening in the industry as live events begin to come alive again. As one of few females in her industry, she feels grateful to have had professors and professional mentors who gave her the encouragement to be confident and employ her skills in an often high-pressure environment. “The opportunities and experiences I had at Mercy prepared me well for all of it,” said Conti.