A singer who initially wanted to become a music educator, Howie Lien discovered he loved student affairs when he was an undergraduate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He studied business and management and had minors in communications and music, but he also kept himself very busy with being an orientation leader, work-study student, residence life staffer, concert choir manager, summer conference coordinator, fraternity president, operations ofﬁcer and primary arranger for an a cappella group, and a member of a hip-hop dance group. Whew! He stayed on after graduating and worked in student affairs at R.P.I. before moving back home to Holmdel, N.J., for a few months before starting work at Juilliard in April. Here he oversees the daily operations of the Ofﬁce of Student Affairs, provides general programming support, supervises the ofﬁce assistants, and coordinates the ofﬁce’s communications.
How was your first day at Juilliard?
I started in the middle of the spring 2015 semester. We were still down a staff member, so I hit the ground running, trying to learn new systems and processes as fast as possible so I could perform my job responsibilities without needing to ask a hundred questions a day.
What job at Juilliard would you like to try out for a day?
I would love to be able to walk around and sit in on rehearsals across the school, so whoever gets to do that—that would be the job I’d want for a day. Perhaps the president, but without all of the important meetings?
What’s the strangest job you’ve had?
My last job was at my alma mater right after graduation, so I ended up becoming an advisor and supervisor to some of my younger friends. It was an interesting balance to be a young staff member and an active community member without compromising my professional integrity.
How did you decide to go into student affairs?
As an undergrad, I was extremely involved, and needless to say, I was drawn to leadership and creating amazingly fulfilling programs for a community of energetic, open-minded young people. After college, I decided I wanted to keep doing that as long as I could.
If out of the blue your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
Sleep! I have a very active personal life. I’m taking an Evening Division class (Ear Training; people say I’m crazy for doing that to myself) and rehearsing and performing with my barbershop chorus, the Voices of Gotham, so there’s rarely a free night in my week.
How do you balance your job and your artistic endeavors?
Thankfully, my job and my chorus don’t conflict very much at all, so I’m able to do both without much trouble. I also arrange vocal music, and being able to take Evening Division classes is a huge plus.
What else are you passionate about?
I originally intended to become a music educator with an emphasis on voice; I still want to pursue that path eventually, but working at Juilliard has been immensely rewarding in other ways. At the moment, my job and my chorus are my primary passions.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I’m only 24 years old! I’ve always carried myself more maturely than my age group, so people are often surprised when I tell them my age.
What are you listening to or watching these days?
I’m attending as many Juilliard student performances as possible. My goals are to see at least one performance from each department, and to watch all of my work-study students perform at least once. Also, the new Pentatonix self-titled album just came out, and my work- studies can tell you that I’ve been listening to it all week.
Feel free to stop by the office to say hello! We have great resources not only for students, but also staff, faculty, and alumni, and I’m always looking for ways to provide better services to the Juilliard community.