Alumni Spotlight: Jameel Lee, Audio Designer, Warner Media (CNN)

Recently, we spoke with Jameel Lee, an Alum from our SAE Institute Atlanta campus. He shared details about life after graduation, his goals, and how SAE Institute helped open up doors for a fulfilling audio career.

Tell me about life after SAE Institute.

It’s hard to find the right words but “blessed” comes to mind. I’ve been able to be part of some amazing projects such as Super Bowl LIII, the John Lewis Homegoing Celebration, the East Atlanta Music Festival, a handful of local talent, and some Indie films.

What is your current position in the audio industry?

I’m an Audio Designer for Warner Media (CNN).

What inspired you to have a career as an audio engineer?

As a youth, I would sit in the A/V booth at the church. They would never let me touch anything but I was intrigued by what went into making a show production happen. Later in life, I found myself searching for career stability and audio was the only thing in front of me. So, I pursued it and here we are.

What do you enjoy most about working in the audio industry?

Broadcast engineering is a very fast-paced audio environment and has so many moving parts. It feels great to be one of those well-oiled moving parts. There’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that you’re engineering and the whole world is listening…literally.

How has your experience at SAE Institute impacted your life today?

SAE Institute opened up doors that I didn’t know existed. Along with fulfilling my intrinsic desire for accomplishment, I’ve also been able to make some great connections with industry professionals. Some of which have become my close friends.

What do you feel is the key to finding a job in the audio industry?

Education. Networking. Maximize every opportunity. Be stern in your goals but flexible on how to get there.

What are you currently working on?

Warner Media has merged all its brands under one roof and we’re currently preparing to train on some new consoles. I’m also working on some location sound for indie films and a musical podcast.

What are your future plans?

Once COVID passes, on my off days, I’m really looking forward to freelancing in live sound again. There’s something about live music that warms my soul.

What do you love most about your job? What not so much?

Working with different talent every day and the constant nurturing that this industry provides for my engineering abilities. Truly, there’s nothing that I don’t like about my job…I mean…my career. It’s a great responsibility and I’m grateful to be in the position.

What challenges have you faced in the industry?

Being underpaid. Working for people who weren’t interested in my growth, my well-being, or my life/work balance.

Why did you choose SAE Institute?

I researched all of the audio schools and SAE Institute had the best reviews, a very welcoming staff, and it just felt right when I entered the building for the tour. I knew that was where I was supposed to be.

What made you choose the program you took?

I knew the basics of audio but wasn’t well-versed in practical usage, terminology, or how massive the industry really is.

Which are the most important skills you took from the classroom to your working environment?

Learning how to listen more, talk less and be open to constructive criticism. In the audio industry, know-it-alls will find themselves in the back of the pack.

Was there a faculty or staff member at SAE Institute who stands out to you?

Absolutely. Mark Trojanowski, Lamar Miller, and James Stringfellow. They’ve been monumental in my success.

Which 5 tips would you give to any aspiring audio engineer?

1. Find a primary focus but be open to other avenues. Be a “Jack of All Trades” (live sound, studio, post-production, gaming and etc). In this business, you won’t learn a skill set that you won’t use.
2. Know that you’re good but the person in front of you is better because they are already in the engineer seat. You’re trying to get to where they are at. You can be as good or even better than them but first, you have to be humble and willing to wait your turn. Regardless of how you feel where you should be, you have to earn it.
3. Be quick on your feet and able to adjust to any audio environment. Slackers don’t do well.
4. Maximize EVERY opportunity. No opportunity is too small.

Which errors have you made in your career? What would you change if you could?

Being overly eager and taking on projects that I wasn’t prepared for which resulted in poor results. Then, once my skill set increased, undervaluing myself.

What is your dream job?

To engineer for NBA on TNT. I’m already under the brand. Now it’s just a matter of honing my skills, applying myself, and being prepared for when the opportunity comes.

You can follow Jameel Lee on Instagram, and learn more about our SAE Institue Atlanta Campus on our site.