Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Student Intern Spotlight: Pavitra Srinivasan

One of the many strengths of the CDE Clinic is that we specialize in engagement (it’s in the name.) We engage with interns who are not just from one school nor have one specific background. Even with these differences, interns feel that the overall objective is somewhat the same. Meet Pavitra Srinivasan! Pavitra is a Junior at the University of Michigan studying Computer Science and Statistics. Fun fact: She also works for the IT department at Michigan as well! 

Pavitra initially found out about the program through an ad on Facebook that her friend sent to her. As part of the Clinic, she is working for Jottful this summer. Jottful is a Michigan- based business that designs and services websites for small businesses. Even though Pavitra has a computer science background, she’s working more on the marketing side of things. She markets to content creators about a new ecosystem where Jottful helps their customers find other customers as well called Jottful Community.

Pavitra has also talked about how much she has learned so far! The Cohort meetings have been teaching her more about marketing and has applied to her work at Jottful. The “Fail Faster” method has played a key role in Pavitra’s learning of Google Analytics and she’ll be certified in no time!

The main objective for Pavitra is to brand herself. Networking and getting to know how startups operate will prepare Pavitra for the future. She plans to be a Software Developer after she graduates. Pavitra is also having a fun time with the CDE Clinic and is learning a lot from it.

The Keys to Career Success

Welcome! In our most recent Tuesday Cohort meeting, we had the pleasure of listening to panel speakers Zvezda Dueling with Ripple Science and Gavin Todd with ShopWindow. Zvezda is a Marketing Manager who participated in the CDE's Summer Clinic Internship last year. Gavin works is a Digital Marketer who's untraditional career path inspires people to go after their passion.

Keys To Success:

#1 Push Yourself to Make Connections
Being open to making connections and new opportunities helped Zvezda build the connections necessary to receive a job offer after her internship. During an internship, you have the opportunity to be in touch with a variety of mentors and potential employers. Through her internship, Zvezda said she learned more than she ever imagined by being open to opportunities for growth. All of the lessons learned throughout the internship propelled her career after the internship ended. Another piece of advice she gave was, "Make yourself a resource by taking all of the information you can soak up and do something with it. Figure out how your knowledge can be the most helpful and turn your skills into growth." Zvezda also mentioned that thinking analytically and being creative during an internship will help you prove that you are useful enough to hire afterwards. Overall, the CDE's internship program propelled Zvezda's career by putting her in touch with the right people, and she was willing to make the necessary connections.

#2 Be Brave Enough to Go After Your Passion
Trial and failure are a part of everyone's success journey. The hardest part is not letting the failures or fears deter you from reaching your goals. Zvezda's most inspiring advice to achieving success was, "Being brave enough to go after something you're passionate about and give it your all is the key to success." Having confidence, being open and not letting anyone or anything hold you back from achieving your goals is what will propel you in your career. Be brave even in the hard moments and make the best of the circumstances you are presented with. Gavin also talked about the entrepreneurial challenges he faced with failed partnerships and businesses. He surpassed these challenges by problem solving and never giving up on his goals.

#3 Problem Solve 
Panel speaker Gavin Todd's best advice was, "On the edge of failure confront the issue, problem solve, switch things up and outline a plan of action." There is always the risk of failure when pursuing your passion, but not letting fear hold you back is the key to reaching success. Risk taking can be scary, but problem solving can be the key finding solutions. If your usual problem solving tricks are not working, switch things up and look at things in a new way. These steps of actions helped Gavin when facing entrepreneurial challenges. Gavin also mentioned that identifying any red flags ahead of time can save you from needing to problem solve.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Spotlight On: Brian Kinsley

Unlike many students in the Center for Digital Engagement Clinic, Brian Kinsley is already steady on the path of breaking into the tech industry in Ann Arbor. After finishing up Washtenaw Community College’s Design and Development program, he had many offers for various short-term assignments and already had a significant amount of experience in the field. On the side, he also runs a profitable bike shop in Ann Arbor while searching for full-time employment. 

Kinsley has been highly proactive in his pursuits, attending every networking event he can. He remarks of the job search, however, “If you don’t already work in the tech industry or are currently a tech student, you ain’t getting that job in Ann Arbor,” noting the challenges of breaking into a saturated market.

At the 2019 Student TechWalk, Brian met Bud Gibson, the Director of the Center for Digital Engagement, at a speed-networking event. Although he had heard of the CDE Clinic before, he was unaware it was open to non-EMU students. After telling Bud his life story, Brian was eager to apply to the clinic. He was admitted and has since been paired with, where he works developing customer experience solutions. Kinsley is one of 5 WCC students and alumni participating in the 2019 Summer Clinic. 

Kinsley credits the clinic for providing additional networking and support for him in his journey.

Brian Kinsley is a tenacious freelance UX Designer, familiar with OmniGraffle, Pencil Project and Blasamiq for site diagramming,site deconstruction and wireframeing. He’s taken coursework in and obtained excellent marks in two different User Testing, UX Research and UI Design and completed several projects, including two different Responsive Websites; Intrigue Escape Games, including two wireframes and South Rockwood United Methodist Church, also involving multiple wireframes and full-color mock-ups. He can be contacted for future collaborations at:

Twitter: @brianjkinsley
Website/ Portfolio:

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Student Intern Spotlight: Jessica Finley

In the CDE, there are many different personalities and working styles between the interns. Some people are so confident in themselves that their personalities show anytime they speak. One of those people is Jessica Finley. A marketing major from EMU that switched from entrepreneurship. I recently got a chance to talk to Jessica about her CDE experience and experience with her company Teckstak. 

The first topic we discussed was her schedule. Jessica works remotely for the most part and meets up with Techstak members once a week for 2 hours. She’s expressed how blessed she was to be able to work from anywhere. Mainly because her brother and sister live in Saginaw so it gives her time to keep a strong relationship with them and work at the same time!

Jessica was actually a student of Bud Gibson before the CDE Clinic so she was already aware of the program itself. “Bud told me that it would be beneficial if I joined and he was right.” Having Bud as an instructor prior to the Clinic helped Jessica out because the procedures in the Clinic are some of the same procedures in Bud’s class. Jessica tells me that it’s a “confidence booster” and that she was able to be herself when she got more comfortable speaking to an entire room of people. 

We also talked about her role at Techstak. Techstak pretty much matches companies with tech companies that can help with their work. One challenging part about being a marketer in a tech company is becoming comfortable with what is going on. “I’m a marketer in a room with a web designer and the CEO. Marketers need to learn web design lingo.” Jessica is the person that has to constantly think about how the customer can gravitate towards their services. 

Techstak is helping Jessica because she has big plans for the future. She’s an “entrepreneur at heart.” Jessica wants to start a blogging business and tells me that the things that she’s learning while interning are helping her with ideas for her business. Jessica then said something that I haven’t stopped thinking about since she told me: “Wherever you work, you should do it for free.” This is how the CDE Clinic helps future professionals. It helps them build their confidence, teaches new skills, and inspires them to carve their own path in their careers.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Being Creative in Constraints

We are all "a creative" in some way or another.  Creative problem solving is a skill that will get you far, and we learned even more about that this week from Hien Lam, co-owner of Huck Finch.  One of the things that Hien mentioned that really stuck with me was the phrase be creative in constraints. 

Working in start up culture, we all know that rolling with the punches is just a part of the gig.  As an intern, there are constraints.  Hien shared some helpful insight when it comes to using those set backs to turn into major come backs. "Let your problems be differentiators," he mentioned.  Taking problems at surface level and giving up is so easy, but to become great at what you do, it takes some innovative thinking.

I decided to share some of the things I took from Hien's chat with us, and how I think it can help students not just now, but in their career (and personal) development for years to come.

1) Collaboration is your friend.  As much as I love to do things myself, putting many minds together can often result in magic.  Tackle a problem with some coworkers, or have a fresh set of eyes look at it.  Sometimes you can be staring at a solution and not even realize it.

2) Think outside the box.  Problems are going to arise in any job, especially working with start ups.  None of us have it figured out, so this is a perfect way to show your leaders what you've got and make the most of a set back.  Brainstorming is a great way to think about your ideal scenario in a new light.  What is something you could do to make it happen in an untraditional manner?  Sometimes, these end up being the best ideas yet!

3) Pursue problems positively.  It's amazing what can get done when you have a positive attitude.  Dropping the word "problem" and switching it with "opportunity" can make a world of difference.  When you are thinking of opportunities for improvement, that shows that you are pursuing greatness, instead of just defining something as it is.

While Hien was able to share a wealth of knowledge, I hope this shed a little light on how to think creatively within the constraints you may be facing.  The last thing I want to leave you all with is a quote from Hien that I loved; Be Bold, Be Italic, but never regular.

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3 Lessons to Live Life on Brand

Welcome Back! Our most recent cohort speaker, Hien Lam, is co-owner of Huck Finch, a brand agency for start-ups and designers. Hien was a passionate and captivating speaker that made the whole room want to hear more! He started off with a quote that read, "The act of dying is one of the acts of life" by Marcus Aurelius. This took everyone by surprise and made us interested in the deep life lessons he was about to teach us. Hien chose three quotes from friends whose life lessons were worth sharing.

Lesson #1: "Life takes the right amount of stupid" -Dina Wojcik

Dina is an entrepreneur who owns a mushroom factory and sells mushrooms to restaurants in Detroit. When she first got into the mushroom industry, Dina didn't know how to sell her mushrooms to restaurants. She marketed her mushrooms the only way she knew how, going restaurant to restaurant asking if they wanted to buy her mushrooms. Luckily, Dina was successfully able to get clients throughout Detroit, but in times when she was not successful, she would ask for constructive criticism on how to improve. Hien pointed out that by asking ourselves "what's the worst thing that can happen?" it takes away some of the worry that comes along with taking career risks and not knowing every detail along the way. Life takes just the right amount of stupid in order to succeed. We must admit to ourselves that we don't know everything, there is always room for growth and everyone has to start somewhere.

Lesson #2:  "If time is money then letting people take your time is like letting them steal from your bank account" -Jason Fried

Jason is an entrepreneur and author who hates shared calendars. This is because those who have access are able to schedule an appointment without your permission at any time. He believes that if time is money, why would you let someone steal your time? Learning to say no is also an important part in protecting your valuable time. If we say yes too often, we will spread ourselves thin. Overall, our best advice is to spend your time wisely.

Lesson #3: "Invest in social capital" -David Klingenberger

David is the founder and CFO of The Brinery whose fermented products are sold in places like Whole Foods. David believes that his ability to create and invest in relationships (aka social capital) played a huge roll in his entrepreneurial success. Some ways Hien suggested to build social capital were to reach out to someone in the community, maybe someone you admire, and ask questions. Building relationships that have the potential to help you network can help you answer questions, find a job and overall, help your career. Make sure when investing in a professional relationship to follow through on one thing that they suggest. Make sure to let them know that you followed through with their suggestion and how it went. People love to feel heard and letting people know you took their advice is a great way to build social capital.

A HUGE thank you to our speaker, Hien, for taking the time out of his busy schedule to come to the CDE's cohort meeting this week! If you would like to check out Huck Finch's website and social media the links are down below. Also, make sure you are following the CDE on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, the links are also down below!

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Spotlight on: Alumna Gabrielle Miller

Gabrielle Miller graduated from Eastern Michigan University in December 2018 with a major in Communication and a minor in Marketing. While in school, Miller was President of the Multicultural Greek Council, Vice President of Zeta Sigma Chi, and held numerous other volunteer positions. She also worked as a Marketing Communications Coordinator at the Student Center and did both graphic design and marketing for the Center for Digital Engagement in addition to her startup placement at TrueJob.

Miller credits the Center for Digital Engagement Summer Clinic for putting her in a unique position as she embarked on her job hunt. “For many of what jobs had as requirements I was able to use my summer experience as talking points. In doing the summer internship you leave with many new things under your belt. New connections, knowledge, and you have reputable certifications under your belt,” said Miller, speaking of her experienced in the clinic. She also cites major improvements to her online profile, including her LinkedIn. “I had professionals asking me for business advice while I was still in college.” 

Within six months of graduating college, Miller landed her dream job at Nachi Robotics, where she is now a Marketing Specialist.
To current and future clinic participants, Miller says that persistence is key. “Don’t give up, and never settle. Be patient and persistent, and know your worth.” 

Miller also encourages students to realize the value of connections, and of networking. She expresses her sincere gratitude and thanks for the connections she has forged with other CDE participants, CDE Director Bud Gibson, and with the other professionals she’s had the opportunity to work with as a result of her internship.