Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is a BIG one: Take the time to read it...and apply

In three weeks, it'll be summer (really, it's literally three weeks).

That means it's time for beaches, summer jobs, and time away from the stresses and pressures of college.

It also means that it's time to do everything you can -- EVERYTHING you can -- to build your resume, to get some "real world" experience, and to enhance your campus learning with every opportunity you can possibly dig up.

That includes internships (we'll be announcing the progressive media internships this this space).

And this year, it means a once-in-a-lifetime, only-for-Parkies chance to be part of a project that will develop your collaboration and leadership skills, teach you to 'think outside the box', and give you a resume builder that will truly matter to prospective employers, no matter what your major.

Plus pay you $1,000 in the process.

In other words, this is truly one of the most exciting and valuable projects in the Park School since I got here. We've been working on the planning and proposals for almost a year, and two weeks ago, we finally heard that we got funding from a national foundation to make it happen (which also means it probably won't happen now's your chance).

Here are the details:

WHAT: It's called the Park School Innovation Incubator Project (yeah, I know, but that's actually exactly what it is). It will engage a group of five Park students in a collaborative network involving students from six other schools: Kansas State, Michigan State, the University of Kansas, Western Kentucky, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and Saint Michael's College in Vermont. The 35 students will work with faculty mentors (ours is Kim Gregson) in a structured process that will teach you to think differently; to lead instead of follow; to be more original, creative, collaborative and innovative than you are now -- and to use those assets to produce a brand new media form, format, or product that will then be tested in the marketplace.

WHEN: The project starts this summer. You'll be required to participate in a three-day on-campus (at IC) workshop in mid-June; to work long-distance with four other students for about six weeks (and yes, you can do this as well as hold a full-time summer job/internship, if you're really committed to the project); and then to return to IC for a final three-day workshop. You will also be required to attend the national conference of the Online News Association in Toronto in October (a gathering not just of journalists but of multimedia content producers across platforms) to participate in the public presentation of the project.

WHAT ELSE: This project is based on a pilot we conducted last summer, in which six students worked through this process in collaboration with AOL. From that, we learned that students need a lot of training and structure in order to develop the kind of insights we expect. We also learned that this is among the most valuable and important learning experiences we could possibly offer you, and that you will come away from it with a new sense of your own creativity and the value of original perspectives.

That said, we also discovered that this could easily be one of the most challenging and demanding intellectual and creative experiences of your college career. And that it's a team project in which every voice and vision matters deeply -- meaning your fellow participants won't forgive you if you disappear mid-summer. So don't apply if you're not serious, committed, and really excited about the possibility of participating.

WHO: You need to be a freshman, sophomore or junior Park major. All majors welcome.

You also need to be incredibly passionate about the value and importance of innovation, originality, and thinking "outside the box." You need to be willing to commit to a process that will be both demanding and challenging. And you need to be ambitious enough to think that you can push your own ideas even when others disagree with them, and collaborative enough to recognize a stroke of genius -- even if it didn't come from you.

WHAT TO DO: We're taking applications, beginning Monday, April 23, through Monday, April 30. The purpose of the applications is to give us some insight into how you think, how you work, how committed you might be able to be the project.

You can do this in email, addressed to Kim (

Please include:

1. your name, your major, your year
2. your contact info (on campus and wherever you'll be this summer)
3. your plans for the summer (jobs, internships, etc. You can do this in addition to other commitments but you'll need to be truly committed to it)
4. a summary of your Internet habits: what do you use the Internet for? what are your favorite sites? where do you spend your time online and for what purposes?
5. and finally, a 500-word (more or less) response to the following question:

"If you were responsible for getting your friends to pay attention to what's going on in their communities, what would you do?"

We may also conduct interviews, if that seems like a good idea once we get the applications.

If you're ambitious, if you're creative, if you believe in the value and importance of an original idea, if you want to learn how to contribute your creative energy to an outcome that is bigger than the sum of its parts -- this is the project for you.

Apply. It could easily be the best thing you do all summer.


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