Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, recently asked Philip Peker '18 to share his unique internship experience and discuss how being a part of the SMITH JOURNEY has helped him find his passion and provided the opportunities to pursue it. Philip is a marketing and business analytics major and a member of the Strategic Design and Innovation Fellows Program.
What does the SMITH JOURNEY entail? Involvement with colleagues, professors, professionals, clubs and organizations here at the Smith School, across campus and in the outside “real” world of business. Here’s what students are challenged to do in each of their four years at Smith:
Freshmen: “Build Your Brand” through the SmithStart program.
Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path” to success by focusing on an overall academic and career strategy.
Juniors: “Command Your Career” to ensure that you are well positioned for your professional journey.
Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience” with an arsenal of tools, knowledge, and networks, so that you are able to embrace your experience and celebrate your success.
Dean Mullins: Tell us about your internship?
Philip: This past summer, I worked as a production intern at a new wave production and entertainment company in Brooklyn, NY, called: m ss ng p eces.
Dean Mullins: What were the highlights of your experience?
Philip: Some of the best parts of my experience were some of the most random/accidental. Early on in the summer, I told a director who was low on budget and time that I could edit and animate one of her projects (even though I had zero editing/animating experience prior). It was a pretty risky move, but it paid off: some of my edits made the final cut of the video, which debuted at Venice Film Festival and in Vogue Magazine for fashion label Miu Miu. Another awesome experience was working side-by-side with director Jared Knecht on set for a collaborative Adidas x Pharrell campaign that debuted at the U.S. Open this past fall. Seeing the grueling, gradual day-to-day process of these creatives, from storyboarding to the set to the editing room, has been super educational and inspirational.
Dean Mullins: How/when/why did you plan this experience?
Philip: Two summers ago, I was working as a composer in NYC, writing music for commercials at a music house called Butter. There, I became fascinated with the relationship between sound and picture. When a coworker was showing me some of his experimentation in ambisonics and binaural sound design, I became interested in unlocking the potential of media technology like virtual and augmented reality as a platform for immersive storytelling.
While applying to standard advertising internships in February/March 2017, I stumbled upon an article about Ari Kuschnir, a Colombian-born new-media storyteller and founder of m ss ng p eces. I was so inspired by his story that I just sent him a cold-email, expressing my interest in working for him and his team. He miraculously responded to my email, and after hearing about their internship program, I made it my mission to work for his company. After a lengthy interview process, I was blessed to have received an offer.
Dean Mullins: Has this experience helped you to clarify your professional and/or personal goal(s)?
Philip: Absolutely. Interning at m ss ng p eces made me realize that my multidisciplinary interests have a home in entertainment. It is not only possible to combine technological innovation, strategy, and the creative arts under one roof, but it is necessary nowadays if you want to tell good stories, connect with an ever-demanding generation, and make things that stick. This summer proved to me that storytelling is a career, so long as you can tell stories that matter. And while telling stories that matter is a challenge in an ever-crowded digital media universe, I have never been more excited and dedicated to take on a challenge.
Dean Mullins: Tell us how your experience might help you continue along the Smith Journey (Freshmen: “Build Your Brand;” Sophomores: “Pioneer Your Path;” Juniors: “Command Your Career;” Seniors: “Embrace Your Experience.”)
Philip: As a junior, I was perhaps a little too focused on “commanding my career.” I was so bent on locking down a well-paying, solid internship and making sure I was comparable to others at Smith, that I began to veer off my own path. Every Smith Terp has their own unique Smith experience, and embracing the path that you pioneered from Day One is the best way to begin commanding your career. As a senior, I understand that my industry is not on the same timetable as other industries; my milestones come at different times, and my growth curve is shaped differently. I must learn to embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly and be thankful for all of it.
Dean Mullins: What advice would you give to your fellow Smith peers and community?
Philip: Take risks. You’ll be surprised at the things you can achieve if you take that leap of faith. And if you fail, well that’s the best education you can get. Plus, regret sucks. Also, that thing that makes you weird - hold on to it. It’s holy.
Dean Mullins: What is your dream?
Philip: Buy an abandoned warehouse or parking garage and transform it into an experimental creative playground. From music festivals, to design workshops, to mixed reality expositions, to art shows, I want to foster a community that uses art and technology as the two main ingredients to creating immersive stories and experiences. I think it is crucial to support multidisciplinary collaboration, not for the sake of revenue-generation, but to push the limits of human creativity and expression. It is my dream to be able to provide a platform for artists, designers, storytellers, and engineers to transform their ideas into realities.
But before all that, I want to have challenging, intellectually-satisfying (and hopefully well-paying) jobs in media production and strategy.
Dean Mullins: Why are you passionate about the Smith School?
Philip: The reason that I chose to come to Smith is the same reason I am passionate about it: It’s big enough for you to walk your own road and small enough for you to build a community around the road you walk. Smith allows you to find your flow, while simultaneously exposing you to other perspectives, enriching, but not distracting you from your path.
For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit: http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad