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Columbia Checks all the Boxes for International Student Abbas Kagalwala


Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Arts Management major Abbas Kagalwala came

to Columbia prepared to make an impact. Not only has he achieved this success, but he

has become an integral part of the college with a successful internship along with his time as a student worker in the Business and Entrepreneurship department.


After completing his undergrad from Jai Hind College, Abbas took some time before making the decision to go to college in the United States. “The three-year gap was not intentional. I started pursuing my Master’s in Commerce but left after one semester because it didn’t align with my goals. I did a 6-month digital marketing certification course and that gave me direction. I started as a social media executive at an agency where I got the opportunity to create social media campaigns for Vh1 Supersonic, which is one of the biggest multi-genre festivals in India. After that, I started working as the marketing manager at an event and ticketing company that worked with all the festivals in India.”


During this time frame, Abbas put the focus on not just contemplating his next move but learning skills that would be helpful in his pursuit of his dreams. “The three years was a great learning curve and I picked up skills such as social media management, graphic designing, and video editing. I also was making music and was signed to Smash The House (Former DJ Mag Number 1 DJ’s Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike’s Label) and was DJ’ing around the city.”


Abbas zeroed in on attending Columbia thanks in no small part to a friend who was attending the school at the time. “My friend Sankalp Tambe who graduated this year talked to me about his experience after his first year. He told me the courses that were taught aligned with my future career plans and that I should look into attending the Arts Management program at Columbia.”


At Columbia, Abbas cites the following courses as instrumental in his growth as a professional. “Artist Management, Leadership, and Law have really helped me get deeper into the music industry. I feel prepared to apply all the knowledge I gained in the real world.” Additionally, he has taken on a leadership role as a student worker, a position that came about through the Career Center’s internship & job board. “I saw the job posting on Handshake and applied for it. The month before I moved to the USA, I spent time researching opportunities and applying for roles that further accelerated my goals.”


Abbas also struck gold on Handshake by finding a paid internship that relates to his major. Not only did he complete the internship during the summer, but he did so well that they asked him back for the fall semester. According to Abbas, “Fever is a company that has a platform that allows you to discover the best leisure experiences in your city, and also produces events with the best partners such as Netflix. They were looking to hire interns for classical music concerts in the city. I applied, and it has been one of my greatest experiences yet. I assist my project manager, and associate producers who have different cities under them with back-end logistical work. I look for new venues in different cities, reach out to them, and provide logistical support, and work events that include ticketing, load-ins & outs, and setting up the venue, etc.”


In the midst of attending classes, working as a student worker, and spending time at a paid internship, Abbas has found time to manage up-n-coming artists based both in Chicago and India. “I currently work with 2 artists under my management agency, Unfiltrd Mgmt. They’re also very good friends of mine who are so talented and are just waiting to blow up in the industry. I work with Sunset Shades who is an indie-electronic music producer and DJ. I also work with Murtuza Gadiwala who is a songwriter and composer in Mumbai, India.”


As Abbas begins to plan for life after Columbia, he has the following goals in mind.

“My long-term goals in this industry are to build an artist management agency and a niche events IP. Since I have been an artist myself and worked as a marketing professional, I feel that I have the knowledge and capability to bridge the gap between artistic freedom and community engagement through a strategic vision. “


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