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Key Change
Music major finds new way to launch entertainment career

Ethan Jones ’21 had his future as an aspiring performance pianist taken away.

A music major from Fort Worth, Texas, Ethan developed tendonitis in his wrists while at Trinity—a cruel twist of fate for someone who says he “loved playing the piano, loved playing the double bass in the orchestra, and loved ringing bells in the handbell ensemble.”

So, in true Trinity fashion, Ethan simply created a new future for himself. From scratch, he built a unique, interdisciplinary second major in entertainment business. “I really looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘Well, I have my tendonitis and I can’t pursue music as much as I wanted to anymore. What else am I really passionate about that I can lean into?’ And it morphed into my fascination with the business of Hollywood and understanding of how access to streaming viewership and theatrical box office data is truly disrupting film and television consumption.”

Creating this second major involved “a little bit of everything” that Ethan had already started at Trinity, where Trinity’s approach to the liberal arts creates countless opportunities to combine disciplines in unique ways. He folded in a research component, combined elements of Trinity’s communication and music departments, such as media classes and performance courses, and also leaned on the professional experience of Trinity’s Arts, Letters, and Enterprise program, a unique, interdisciplinary Trinity experience that helps students (usually in the humanities and social sciences) find ways to integrate business with their primary areas of interest.

This pivot ended up landing Ethan a spot as a graduate student in Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious entertainment industry management program.

As a graduate student, Ethan is part of the 31% of his graduating class who are continuing their education after leaving Trinity. (In case you’re wondering, about 75%of all graduating Trinity students pursue graduate school within five years of graduation). Ethan also works remotely as a growth marketing strategy intern at HBO Max, where he’s in charge of looking at viewership data for shows such as Euphoria, Insecure, and Succession, uncovering insights that will ultimately expand the subscriber base for HBO Max. Ethan is even going to intern at the Cannes Film Festival in France this summer, then he plans on moving to Los Angeles to intern for United Talent Agency.

If that sounds like the coolest thing ever: “Well, that’s because it is,” Ethan says. “It truly does feel like a dream come true, thanks in part to the astute mentors and irreplaceable friends I gained at Trinity.”

Jeremiah Gerlach is the brand journalist for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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