Photo by Athena Pajer
Student ventures, the backbone of Millikin’s hands-on learning experience. It is also one of the key reasons a handful of students attest to why they chose this university. Yet through personal experience, I can see many ways as to how the ventures could be developed to make Millikin even more unique of an education experience.
Currently all of the ventures or groups within business and the create arts operate independently and wholly separate from one another. While this does give each organization its own identity, it also isolates each group to survive on its own.
There is nothing wrong with the small business model where everything comes from in house, but it doesn’t closely reflect the modern work environment where work is split between departments or outsourced with directors overseeing production. It could also help if the ventures had a greater role within the university and took part of larger ambitions that will force students to rise to the challenge rather than growing complacent.
For example, if the Blue Connection gallery downtown needed graphics made; instead of spending internal time they can approach Millikin Creates with their needs. If Burlesque Underground needs film and promotion for an event, they can approach 1901 Productions.
Doing this will intertwine the ventures and create a more self sustaining system as each solves the needs for one another. This should also create a demand and deadline within each venture that will reflect the demands within an actual company.
We as students should be pushed to interact with those outside our majors and problem solve with folks who may have a different understanding as ourselves. The intent is more of creating an internal engine within the school instead of relying solely on external economic sources as a sense of progression.
Let’s take this idea of intentionally using the ventures to prop each other up, these groups are also opportunities to lift up the university as a whole.
Need a production quality commercial that isn’t too pretentious and connects with the interests of younger demographics? Work with 1901 Productions. Need designs and layouts for promotional media and college mail literature? Talk to any of the on-campus publishers to generate a masterpiece.
Point being that these organizations, if managed correctly, can lift some of the weight off of the faculty, so the faculty can get more done in terms of recruitment and admissions. Letting students take charge over official university media is something that happens at the graduate level within larger universities.
Why can’t we offer this opportunity to upperclassmen and further put them ahead of the curve? The purpose is to give students more than enough resources to make them exceptional wherever they are off to next.
Not to play down the experience here as only the basics and nothing more because of the label of undergrad. Pulling these ventures closer to the university can create the unique experience that can set Millikin further apart from other universities.
Ambitious, but how do we do this? Well first, this won’t be something that can happen overnight. There should be meetings between all of the groups where they all present their capabilities and their shortcomings.
If the interplay doesn’t work with a larger number of organizations, it could be necessary to merge groups and assign them into divisions. Not to take away from the uniqueness but to extend the invisible hand that supports each venture.
The key to all of this is road mapping and communication of goals. Before anything happens, all groups will have to plan on where they hope to be and what goals they would hope to accomplish.
A constant knowledge and transparent communication of where we are going can only help support and understand the needs of other groups. At best, if this works and current happenings and future goals are clear to students, then the rotating rosters between semesters should be able to plug in and work from the beginning.
If all goes well, Millikin develops an independent self sustaining system that supports itself and teaches a greater sense of cooperation and trust within the workplace. If it fails, Millikin tried something new and pursued innovation instead of doubling down on its old archaic education system. This is at least something to consider.