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Our Spring 2022 Initiatives

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TL;DR: everything we're doing this semester.

Editor's note

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Every semester, we take a look at the initiatives we've recently run, evaluate campus culture and student needs, and determine Spark's initiatives for the following few months. Spark has formed committees to work on five external initiatives this Spring. The leads of each committee have deeply thought how their initiative addresses Spark's mission, what the work will look like, and what it'll be like to join the committee. Click to jump to an initiative → 1000 Pitches | Arts, Grooves, & Foods | Communications | Diversity, Equality, & Inclusion | Graphics | Project Launch | Sparkmarket | Startup Career Fair

Introduction to our Spring 2022 initiatives

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A few of our household initiatives, like 1000 Pitches and Project Launch, have been running for years because they feel so core to our mission and our beliefs. We might decide to continue, pause, or retire an initiative, but one can always come back if a lead is passionate about its cause. This year, Amara successfully resurrected Arts, Grooves, and Foods, which originally ran in 2017, and Alex is resurrecting Startup Career Fair, which is coming out of a one-year retirement. We frequently start new initiatives at the beginning of each semester as part of our commitment to serving our mission—whatever that means in the current semester: Sparkmarket is debuting under Erik this semester. We have a lot in store and we can't wait for you to see what we'll be up to. Hopefully, you'll find something that piques your interest! If you join Spark, you'll join two of these committees and help us push it to its fullest potential.

1000 Pitches (1KP)

Committee lead:

Ariana Deng, Sophomore majoring in Global Health in Keck and IRGB in Dornsife

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What is 1000 Pitches? 1000 Pitches is a semester-long pitch competition where we literally collect a thousand pitches from USC students and community members. (It's a lot of syllables, so we mostly call it 1KP.) We usually do a lot of tabling on campus and asking people to pitch to us, and at the end of the semester, we'll award a winner with prize money—we actually record and watch all thousand pitches. We hope that our initiative will reignite students’ energy to change the world around us. At a baseline, our goal is to get people to realize that their ideas matter.

What does 1KP have to do with Spark's mission?

Spark is about spreading entrepreneurial thought and action—1KP allows students to do so by sharing their ideas and solutions.

What will the work look like?

Although I’m still working on concretely what 1KP will look like in person, a lot of work will go into making it happen this semester. I’ll be in communication with past leads and committee members, doing our best to approach challenges creatively, and doing the work of coordinating the larger event: food, sponsorship, actually getting a thousand pitches... and I’ll of course need the support of others in Spark (especially for the logistics of a larger event).

What will it be like to join the committee?

It’s my second time leading 1000 Pitches, and I learned a lot, from project management, campus event planning, and email outreach. Although 1KP last semester started preliminary outreach to sponsors and funding opportunities, I hope to continue our work and end the semester with a large, exciting event for students to connect with one another and express their passions to the rest of the student body (aka 1000 Pitches!!). I’m honestly looking for people who are ambitious, adaptable problem-solvers, and ready-to-learn! (Bonus points if you're funny.)

Arts, Grooves, & Foods (AGF)

Committee lead:

William Higbie, Junior majoring in Cinema and Media Studies in the School of Cinematic Arts

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What is Arts, Grooves, & Foods? Arts, Grooves, and Foods is a student-run music and art festival dedicated to uplifting the voices of USC and LA-based artists while raising funds to give back to our surrounding community.

What does AGF have to do with Spark's mission?

AGF fulfills our belief that entrepreneurship takes form in so many different ways - particularly in the art world.

What will the work look like?

AGF will be a hands-on committee. You’ll get to shape it from the very start and brainstorm on how this semester's event will be new and different. Beyond that we’ll get to work with and meet amazing student artists and musicians, along with putting together a kick-ass show!

Communications (Comms)

Committee leads:

Alisha Merchant, Freshman majoring in Cinema and Media Arts (Pre-Med) in the School of Cinematic Arts

Meghana Maddali, Sophomore majoring in Philosophy, Politics, & Economics in Dornsife

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What is Communications? Spark’s Communications (Comms) committee is the center of internal content creation; from witty tiktoks to compelling blog posts, we’ll be producing content that not only showcases Spark’s internal voices, but also inspires ideation within and beyond the Spark community.

What does Communications have to do with Spark's mission?

Spark SC’s online presence is aesthetic, but not as substantive as it could be. Comms, with its many initiatives, will establish solid systems of communication between Spark members and entrepreneurs. Improving our organization’s presence will not only foster these key relationships, but also aid Spark in better serving the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

What will the work look like?

Committee work will range from ideation to creation, allowing members to explore all aspects of content creation.

What will it be like to join the committee?

Consider Comms as a sort of launchpad for ideas. All ideas, no matter how crazy they seem, will be critically engaged with. Content, after all, is infinite and expansive——from IG lives to art installations, content can take on many forms. For this reason, we, as leads, will encourage members to think beyond the conventions of content to consider the unconventional.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

Committee lead:

Ire Omitowoju, Sophomore majoring in Arts, Technology, & the Business of Innovation in IYA

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What is Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion? Spark’s DEI committee works provide equal access to Spark by ensuring that our membership is diverse and representative, our culture is inclusive, and our initiatives reflect our mission.

What does DEI have to do with Spark's mission?

Without Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Spark cannot fully complete its mission of “fostering entrepreneurial thought and action across communities of ALL BACKGROUNDS at USC.” We need to reflect and understand the people we serve in order to successfully create an impact on campus!

What will the work look like?

Our work will range from connecting wit various cultural organizations on campus to creating a more inclusive, socially aware culture in Spark. Here are some of our goals:

  • Expanding our personal friendships and networks beyond the academic and social relationships that come naturally.
  • Establishing better operational relationships with organizations on campus that have high Black, Latin/Hispanic, and Native/Indigenous membership.
  • Making sure board and committee meetings are safe spaces where people of different backgrounds can speak while using inclusive language.
  • Ensuring each committee along with their mission will have a DEI goal.

What will it be like to join the committee?

Joining this committee is about being uncomfortable. You will challenge yourself through tough discussions and asking awkward questions. It not only about making space for others, but also gaining a better understanding of various racial and ethnic backgrounds and the many intersections. If you want to grow and explore new perspectives join!

Graphics

Committee leads:

Dutch Hansen, Freshman majoring in Business Administration (Cinematic Arts) in Marshall

Heath Chancey, Freshman majoring in Arts, Technology, & the Business of Innovation in IYA

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What is Graphics? Spark’s graphics committee operates as Spark’s in-house creative studio — we create content to support all of our committees and build out innovative design projects to foster entrepreneurship at USC.

What does Graphics have to do with Spark's mission?

Graphics is an internal committee, meaning the work we do is primarily in support of our other initiatives. Graphics and Communications are responsible for all of Spark’s content creation. As a result, we are the ones who market Spark, express impact, and lead the organization creatively. The empowerment of entrepreneurship is central to everything we create.

What will the work look like?

This semester, first, members of graphics will get the chance to learn the fundamentals of visual design. In Graphics, as in Spark as a whole, no prior experience is required. Nevertheless, we love working with talented creators and believe our work is highly collaborative. As the semester progresses and Spark’s projects materialize, we will create visuals across mediums, working with the Communications committee to promote Spark’s output and underlying mission. In addition, we will execute design projects to create Spark merch and reinforce our mission on physical platforms.

What will it be like to join the committee?

Joining graphics, regardless of your experience level, will be an opportunity for growth as an individual and team member. You will both gain and contribute visual inspiration, exercise the opportunity to publish design work, and build experience working in creative teams.

Project Launch (fondly called PL!)

Committee lead:

Beez, Senior majoring in Arts, Technology, & the Business of Innovation in IYA

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What is Project Launch?

Project Launch is Spark’s mentorship program for USC Hybrid High School. This semester, we'll be examining what PL's mission should be in 2022 by conducting original research, working with past rockets, and strengthening relationships with people at Hybrid High.

What does Project Launch have to do with Spark's mission?

Project Launch originated out of Spark’s mission to spread the entrepreneurial spirit to people at and around USC. This semester, we’re using design-thinking to re-evaluate the foundations of the initiative, alongside students and faculty at USC Hybrid High and past participants in the program. By May, we’ll have a clear basis of evidence for emerging plans to renew Project Launch’s efforts, as well as a renewed take on its alignment with Spark’s mission.

What will the work look like?

Being part of PL will feel like a mix between:

  1. participating in a design workshop and
  2. actively practicing design consulting.

You'll also help determine PL's S22 goals + impact. We'll be examining what PL's mission should be in 2022 by conducting original research, working with past rockets, and strengthening relationships with people at Hybrid High.

What will it be like to join the committee?

One of my goals is to sharpen the creative problem solving skills of Sparklets + members who join PL this semester. Join me if you want to get better at design-thinkingproject managementportfolio-building, and design research!

Sparkmarket

Committee lead:

Erik Cruz, Sophomore majoring in Computer Science and Business Administration in Viterbi

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What is Sparkmarket? Sparkmarket’s mission is to inspire entrepreneurship at USC through a flea market event (@trojanfleamarket) and website (trojanfleamarket.com) showcasing USC students’ side hustles/businesses to the larger LA/USC community.

What does Sparkmarket have to do with Spark's mission?

The idea for Sparkmarket came out of a Sparklabs group in F’21 consisting of Erik, Heath, Meghana, and Christina; we wanted a way to highlight people at the university who have small businesses, everything from custom artwork to people who do nails. We thought the best way to do this was through a flea market event. This event will give exposure to these small businesses and foster entrepreneurial thought throughout the university.

Think of it like this the next time you want to do your nails or eyebrows or buy jewelry instead of having to head to downtown LA or Santa Monica to shop, why not shop and support a fellow trojan who is just 5 min away from you. This is why Sparkmarket was created.

What will the work look like?

Being apart of the Sparkmarket team will consist of:

  • helping organize and develop the flea market event
  • build up the instagram page and website

Being Spark’s newest committees, members of the Sparkmarket team will ultimately shape what this event and platform can be in the longevity. Being a p3art of the team, you will be managing conversations with student business owners, developing original content for the Instagram page & website, and helping market the event to the larger USC community.

What will it be like to join Sparkmarket?

Sparkmarket is in its grassroots stage right now, but I do genuinely believe the pieces are there to make it happen and get it done. Join me if you are interested in community building, social media/web management, and event planning.

Startup Career Fair (SCF)

Committee lead:

Alex Wan, Freshman majoring in Computer Science and Business Administration in Viterbi

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What is Startup Career Fair? Startup Career Fair is a fully student-run career fair that brings together the best startups with USC’s ambitious students to discuss existing opportunities and create new ones. We want to create an environment for both startups and students to foster the entrepreneurial community at USC and Southern California.

What does SCF have to do with Spark's mission?

SCF’s goal is to provide USC students with the opportunity to connect with innovative and emerging startups. As it can be intimidating to find startups to work at, SCF bridges the gap for students to enter this space to both connect with and find opportunities with passionate companies and entrepreneurs.

What will the work look like?

This semester, we are bringing back SCF from a one year hiatus. Due to the nature of event planning, our work will be fast paced and open to suggestions, comments, and critiques. Some tasks members will be tackling this semester are:

  • Planning logistics for an on campus event
  • Creating content to reach USC students
  • Contacting to companies, vendors, and USC schools

What will it be like to join SCF?

Committee members will have the opportunity to focus on different aspects of event planning and have the space to come up with new ideas to make it more exciting. So if you are interested in event planning and working with startup companies to create an amazing one day fair, consider joining!