Witness to a Reinvention

A quick note before a brutally busy day begins.

At noon, a gaggle of industry thought leaders, recruiters and influencers will be at the Cannery in San Francisco, meeting with the full-time faculty for a luncheon. At Academy of Art University we use commencement week to show off our students’ incredible transmedia creations, and push the aforementioned students toward people who can give them advice, criticism, and perhaps even a future job in the business.

We take placement very seriously. We have walked them up to the starting line, and now we finish the job by pushing them out the door toward their career dreams.

I spent a few minutes on the phone last night with one of those students. I make myself available to every kid who has been a student of mine; I tell them I will be their teacher for life.

My altruism is authentic, but hardly overwhelming: very few students take me up on my pledge. Not a surprise; in a group of any kind of people, there are only a select few who push harder, ask for more, and are relentless in their pursuit of their personal goals. I’m happy to offer help to those who have excelled in school. They have taught me as much or more than what (I hope) I have exposed them to. It’s a nice payback to them for taking the gauntlet of learning seriously.

I’m going to watch this young man show his stuff in front of a player this afternoon. When we spoke last night, he was not nervous- he was focusing on his message. He wanted to know what questions to ask, what to concentrate on, and what to take away from the conversation.

I told him what I thought he should say, and gave him some tips on how to present. The player he’ll be interviewing with is a professional acquaintance, so I can play matchmaker before their conversation.

Then I’m going to say nothing.

I am going to watch.

My student has done a few things already in his life; he has a work history, performing scattered jobs in various industries.  Now my guy is focusing.

He wants to create a media brand, utilizing words, video, images and full social media integration.

He’s starting to “pick a lane”, attempting to learn what subject he should focus on, and gaining understanding of how that process is going to unfold.

My student is preparing to reinvent. One of the great joys of this job is watching, listening and continuing to learn from the fascinating people I get to collide with in this career.

Employers don’t really care what we want- they want to know who we are.

Until you have a clear understanding of who you are, you aren’t ready to tell anyone else your story.

This guy is ready. It’s go time.


John Scott is the National Online Learning Coordinator and a media history professor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention. Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.   

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