By day, Laura Serafine advocates for customers while hunting for bugs as a Media Temple Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer. By night, she takes to the stage with strong, dynamic vocals and deeply personal, carefully-crafted songwriting. Her songs have been featured in the hit soap opera The Young and the Restless, she regularly appears live as a soloist and also lends her voice to Los Angeles bands The Knights of Audio and Cats on Mars. We sat down with Laura to discuss how she balances out working at Media Temple and her musical life.
1: How long have you been a Media Temple employee? What do you do here at Media Temple?
I joined Media Temple in 2010. I started as a Customer Service billing agent and now I am a QA Engineer. Media Temple is very encouraging about career advancement, but it took a lot of hard work in my personal time as well.
2: What do you like the most about what you do? Why?
My favorite parts of QA testing are getting to work hand-in-hand with every team. Getting a chance to work with so many departments is great, as quality is an outcome that we all own. I enjoy all my coworkers, so it’s great to work with so many that I would not interact with if I were in a different role. I also particularly love that QA gives me a chance to learn new things everyday. From programming to design, I get to see so many facets of the company and learn from each project. It’s challenging, exciting, and highly rewarding.
3: Of which project you either worked on by yourself or contributed to you are the proudest?
We recently launched an entirely new shopping cart. This was an enormous project that involved collaboration from so many teams. I was (and am) thrilled and proud to be a part of the effort. It’s gratifying to know that I made the experience of buying a Media Temple product better for our customers. The second coolest thing was helping build the Star Wars Lego Star Destroyer we have at the front desk. Because Legos are cool and will always be cool. I should buy more legos.
4: How different is Media Temple compared to any previous companies you worked at?
If I were to list all the ways that Media Temple is different, I could go on for days! But the thing I love about the company is a culture that pushes for innovation. By finding new ways that make even the smallest aspects of a product and the entire user experience better, we work in a truly inspiring environment.
5: Before working here, what was the weirdest job you had?
I was a body piercer. I was actually trained by (and worked for) Chris Saint who is now best known for the show Tattoos after Dark on the Oxygen Network. My favorite thing was microdermals. I loved being a piercer and would absolutely go back to it one day if time and resources allowed.
6: Can you talk about your other life, your musical life? What is your biggest musical accomplishment?
I’m a singer songwriter. I have been a singer since I was about two. Proof of this, to my enduring embarrassment, was captured on Betamax home video. I have taken private voice lessons since age five and I started playing piano at about twelve. I have two degrees in music and a diverse musical background in musical theater, opera, rock, pop, jazz, a cappella choirs, and piano. I have always been musically inclined and that hasn’t changed even though I work in tech.
I’d say my biggest accomplishment in music was my first E.P. release back in 2009. I am currently working on my second album. It will be a full length album, all original work. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and time, and I can’t wait to let people hear it. I still play live often as well, and this past September I had a show on the historic Austin Steam Train. I sang and played piano on a train!!! I am not sure how to top that this year. A show on a blimp? Or maybe a dragon?
7: How has Media Temple helped you pursue your passion?
From hosting talent shows to co-workers coming to my performances here in L.A., Media Temple has been amazingly supportive from the start. They put people first and they take work/life balance very seriously. I truly appreciate that. I also joined a co-workers’ band, Cats On Mars. There are a lot of musicians working at Media Temple. It’s a great environment for creatives.
8: What’s your musical inspiration?
It’s a tie between Tori Amos and Benjamin Gibbard. Tori Amos has such an incredible story and presence, a real inspiration. My very first cassette tape was Tori Amos’ “Under The Pink” album. It’s a wonder I didn’t catch the tape player on fire since I played it over and over. Benjamin Gibbard is, in my opinion, one of the greatest lyricists I have ever heard. I also love his ability to invigorate simple, familiar chord progressions with his imagery. From Death Cab for Cutie to the Postal Service, he really can do no wrong in my eyes…or…ears, I guess?
9:What applications or internet services do you use during the creative process?
I use Logic Pro to make music when I am at home. It’s everything I need plus samples, drum loops, and free tools to wrangle up some inspiration. I actually use Garage Band for the iPad when I am out and about. It’s simple and really great to just hash out an idea quickly on the run. I also really love the Korg iElectribe and iKaossilator apps, they’re just fun on a bun.
10: If you could have dinner with any fictional character, who would it be?
That is a tough decision! It would have to be Zapp Brannigan from Futurama. There’s no way that wouldn’t be entertaining and hilarious. I think that technically means I would have dinner with Billy West, Zapp’s voice actor. That man is a real genius.
BONUS QUESTION: Which one of Media Temple’s company values resonates the most with you?
“Live passionately”. If you just go to work everyday and just eat, sleep, and commute, you risk driving yourself crazy. You need to have passion. That passion can be part of your work life, or something outside of it, but for real happiness, you got to have passion everywhere.