Student Profile: Musical Impact
Dan Droller ’09
Summer Internship: Summer Associate, Deloitte Consulting
I originally was going to become a doctor; my dad is a doctor, and I wanted to be able to help people. After I graduated from college, I worked as a health policy analyst at a hospital while applying to medical school.
At the same time, one of my best friends was in the military — and I didn’t want him to go to Iraq, and he didn’t want to go to Iraq, because he had a family — so I got involved very early on in the Howard Dean campaign, because he was the only anti-war candidate at the time. I had some friends in bands in Brooklyn, so I started throwing shows to get more people to know about Howard Dean.
The shows started getting a little bit of press, and an investor contacted the Dean campaign; they put him in touch with my friends and me through our website. The investor said, “I want to fly you out to California for you to tell me about what you’re doing. Can you come up with a business plan?” We just sort of wrote a bunch of stuff down, came up with an idea of where we’d like to go with the project, flew out there, and presented it to him. He said, “That sounds great. Here’s some money; go do it.”
We just really, really hustled and worked hard. Medical school kept on being pushed off and pushed off, and I saw that I could help people and have an effect through something other than medicine. Basically, our organization — called Music for America — was like a progressive Rock the Vote, using music to get people involved in politics, registering them to vote, educating them on the issues. One of the things that Music for America championed was peer-to-peer messaging, where you didn’t need the huge artist; you used smaller artists. Instead of saying, “Go vote,” it was, “This is why I’m voting,” and having a conversation.
We got some very generous funding at first, and had a good development program built up — we had a full-time staff of 13 — but it was really hard to keep going. I didn’t think it was sustainable to have a positive effect through nonprofit work alone, so I wanted to see how people did it through the for-profit side. That sort of piqued my interest in business school.
Now, I actually am going into consulting. I think it’s the best way to continue to learn about business and learn about how to approach different problems. I still value the work that nonprofits can do, I still value the impact that business can have; I just don’t really think that one can exist without the other. The way Yale SOM focuses on impact has been really beneficial in helping me intelligently say that and know what I’m talking about.
Interviewed on March 27, 2008.