Experiential Learning: More Than Just a Buzz-Term
“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark.” – Dante
When I returned to St. Lawrence College last September for my academic, and professional reboot, I was introduced to a fascinating new element within the school which instantly caught my attention. Agame changer in the realm of experiential learning. I’m of course talking about Spark Production House.
Located at SLC’s Kingston campus, Spark is a fully operational media agency which employs a group of truly exceptional people. The team is comprised of students, each from multiple disciplines honing their craft by working collaboratively in a real work environment on real projects. To top it all off, the students who work with Spark are paid. Not a huge salary mind you, but they are aptly compensated for their work and treated like professionals rather thanstudents.
In fact, while discussing Spark with John Conrad (SLC’s Associate Dean of the School of Business) he explained to me: “Our view as an institution, is not to look at students asstudents – but rather new professionals.” – and now that I have the privilege to be a part of Spark, those words ring truer with each minute.
It’s hard to place Spark in a specific category. At times, it’s a think tank, or creative incubator of sorts where a team of gifted individuals combine their abilities and create solutions for their clients that far exceed the confines of the mundane. This is an organization where creativity is not only encouraged, but completely unleashed. (Picture Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but a marketing communications version.)
The atmosphere in the Spark Lab is best described as symbiotic. Each team member contributes in some way to every project in the pipeline. Sometimes it’s a massive contribution of work, others it’s a consultation or informative interaction which in the end helps feed the overall energy on which the agency thrives. If you get stumped, someone is there to offer ideas. If you ever wondered how a gifted graphic designer goes about creating a logo – he’s sitting five feet away.
For example, this is my third week of the internship – and I have already helped launch our podcast:The Learner’s Guide to the Galaxy, co-wrote dialogue and recorded voiceover assets for multiple promo spots (the first of which is playable below). I have gathered stats for social media reporting and crafted multiple blog posts. I have curated oodles of content, and I’m learning more and more about who I am as far as my professional endeavours are concerned.
I can safely say that by the end of this six-week adventure, I will be one hundred times more confident and have learned more about my colleagues’ jobs, and now possess an intimate understanding of their respective fields.
Three weeks ago I looked toward the end of this academic chapter with dread. The natural fear that we all feel when we hop out the proverbial nest and flap our wings for the first time over the seemingly dark precipice of our future. Today, I’m enjoying a clear view of my path, and can’t wait to dive in.