When you say the words: “Pratt Pro Imagination Expo” out loud and all together, they have a nice ring, don’t they? Indeed, all the words of the event’s title go very well together, just as all the various elements of the event went together in many pleasant and interesting ways.
In retrospect, I see that my plan of attending the expo strictly for the panel talks and not to explore the vast trove of potential employers from a wide range of different industries, was rather silly. I didn’t even bring a resume. But, it’s not for that that I have regret.
My main regret lies in not better researching the companies that were there; what they do as well as the kinds of positions they are looking to fill. In knowing this, I could have had deeper and more interesting conversations with them, especially since most all the companies had a certain sense of innovation, creativity, and/or some kind of unique start-up quality to them. With these types of characteristics, I believe there are an endless number of interesting things that could have been discussed.
Now, I want to divert a minute to point out that I did not mention the word NETWORKING. For one thing, I’m not a computer. And for another, we are all practically connected via this thing we often unknowingly believe is the answer to most everything: the internet and its social media platforms. I don’t need to desperately “keep in touch” with everyone I meet at one of these things and constantly show them what I am up to and see what they are up to. If I did, then I never would truly be up to too much because I would be too busy NETWORKING for the sake of NETWORKING. If I did buy into the NETWORKING bit, I would never be able to stay in touch, network, or interact with most everyone I meet except on an extremely superficial level and, if I were to NETWORK like this, it’s worth pointing out that all my “connections” would also be only superficially in touch with me. So, what’s the point? We only have one life to live and I’d rather live than constantly and deliberately network.
What I’m interested in are REAL relationships. They are of far greater significance than value and value alone in my eyes isn’t worth striving for. On the subject of value, it’s worth pointing out too that I’m not a commodity or an attraction to be bought and sold. No one is. Nor will any of us ever be anyone or anything’s service provider. Although each of us may occasionally provide a service or value-based thing, at the end of the day, we are all individuals. And that goes far beyond all of our collected aspects, values, doings, and parts. I also believe this to be the basis for a good company. A company should be something more than just it’s aspects, values, doings, parts, and NETWORKING capabilities.
So, when I say I regret not having looked closer at what companies were going to be at the expo, it wasn’t so I could prepare to try to sell myself to them, but to have a REAL conversation about the company; the people in them; their thoughts, ideas, and creations; and to experience a conversation that elicits different and common perspectives. It’s a great way to learn.
As no one seemed to know where the speakers would be speaking or that there were even going to be speakers at the event, I patiently strolled the various business, student projects, and organization booths. I found that if you didn’t research the companies, you often couldn’t tell what they were about by simply walking by their booth. But, I did very quickly learn which companies were important to students, as I watched students quickly fall in line like sheep to only a few certain business, while all of the rest of the booths had very few visitors. In many of these hardly visited booths, the potential employers looked eager, desperate even, to get students attention, and, who knows, maybe even hire them.
Take this instance for example:
Those of you who know me best know that I’m lucky when I’m able to put myself together in an even simi-presentable fashion, especially when it comes to attire. Partially this is due to being color blind, for another, I just don’t have a good aesthetic eye. That’s why I was so incredibly alarmed by a fashion startup’s eagerness to discuss their company with me and ask what it is I’m interested in and working on. When I told them that I’m a writer studying Information Science, they still weren’t deterred that I knew nothing about fashion and could barely pass myself off as fashionable. They asked for contact information. Even though I hadn’t intended to give my information to anyone, I wrote it down on a pice of scrap paper that they were eager to receive. They then asked on the spot if I was interested in taking an internship writing for them. Meanwhile, all the aesthetically fluent and fashion-savy students were competing for attention and waiting in long lines just to have a minute with only a few of the more prominent/well known organizations. This made the expo a great place for those who went to the expo to browse the room in more of its entirety.
Now, on to the talks. I stuck around for four speakers. The first spoke on mentorship and how everyone, no matter their level, should both be and have a mentor. The second talk was about Pratt’s Research Center for Sustainable Design, (they’re looking for an LIS Grad assistant by the way). The third talk was on Kickstarter campaigns and the emphasis that the platform isn’t a place to merely sell a product, but rather, grow a community. The last presentation, led by Microsoft, was on adapting experiences for virtual and mixed reality. As this is a topic brought up in my Information Technology class regularly, I was quite interested, but the talk was a complete bust and nothing was learned. The most common word used by the presenter was “neat”, which has little to no significance for something that someday could become such an integrated and crucial element to the modern world.
I could keep on going with my thoughts and discoveries at the Pratt Pro Imagination Expo; it’s talks, flows, interactions, and composition, but I won’t. Instead, I’d like to conclude that Pratt’s openness to new ideas, innovation, learning, and possibility, truly shown through. There was a profound current throughout the event which encouraged the notion that regardless of what you are doing now, you can learn and do almost anything, even if it’s not in your primary field. Sometimes, it is individuals outside a profession who can have the greatest influence on it.
As for following the flock… its a reminder that we at least need to take a broader look at this place and all that we are surrounded by here in the Pratt community. It’s hard to know otherwise what we may be missing. Sometimes the greatest discoveries are made just a couple steps off the well trampled path.