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Our Fall 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 → Founders | Project Launch | Reprogram | Spark Studio | Startup Career Fair | Trojan Marketplace

Introduction to our Fall 2022 initiatives

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A few of our household initiatives, like Founders 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. 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. 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.

Founders

Committee leads:

Christina Zhang, Sophomore majoring in Economics in Dornsife

Josh Cohen, Sophomore majoring in Business Administration in Marshall

Anoushka Asthana, Senior majoring in International Relations Global Business in Dornsife

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What is Founders? Founders brings USC students the opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs and hear their stories. Starting this year, Founders also hopes to inspire students’ interests, creativity, and network by connecting them with their peers in interactive events. Students can discover and nurture their interests before hearing how successful founders turned their interests into innovative initiatives.

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

Spark believes that everyone has the potential to take initiative and change the status quo. Whether students don’t know their interests (yet!) or need help turning their interests into a vision, the interactive events will provide students guidance and the opportunity to learn from each other. Additionally, talks given by those who have started successful companies or projects will give students insight and perspective into how to turn that vision into reality.

What will the work look like?

  • Researching founders of successful companies or projects
  • Outreach and marketing to founders
  • Marketing to Students
  • Founders & Interactive event logistics
  • Slack channel maintenance and engagement
  • Fundraising

What will it be like to join the committee?

This committee will be a sprint towards a clear and instantly rewarding goal. Skills learned to include research and marketing, logistics, and fundraising. Members will execute what we know needs to be done, as well as envision and voice their own ideas to make our events more successful or complement our overall mission. You will get to interact with curious students with a journey or entrepreneurship ahead of them, and founders with journeys of entrepreneurship behind them.

Note: Please see Spark’s definition of entrepreneurship here

Project Launch (PL)

Committee lead:

Dutch Hansen, Sophomore majoring in Computer Science in Viterbi

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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 from Spark’s mission to spread entrepreneurial spirit to people at and around USC. Last semester, we employed design thinking to re-evaluate the foundations of the initiative alongside students and faculty at USC Hybrid High and past participants in the program. Now, with a renewed take on curriculum and a clear basis of evidence for decision making, we will be building out the program in preparation for spring 2023.

What will the work look like?

Being part of PL will feel like a mix between:

  1. crafting meaningful learning experiences
  2. developing lasting educational resources
  3. securing technology and sponsorship

As a member of PL, you will play an active role in how we set goals and make an impact.

What will it be like to join the committee?

I care deeply for the growth of committee members. Working on PL, you will have plenty of opportunities to sharpen creative problem-solving skills and make a tangible impact with contributions.

Reprogram

Committee leads:

Jessica Gonzalez, Sophomore majoring in Economics in Dornsife

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

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What is Reprogram? Reprogram will pair an artist and entrepreneur together to create an art piece reflecting the entrepreneur’s journey. Through this shared experience, the duos will find a balance between a solution-oriented mindset and an expression-oriented mindset. Reprogram, ultimately, promotes multidimensional thinking in both the arts and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

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

50% of this initiative is focused on promoting entrepreneurial thinking to the pure arts community, which directly serves Spark’s mission. The other 50% is dedicated to understanding that the status quo of entrepreneurship culture might not be perfect.

Rather than constantly pushing our way of thinking outwards to other communities, there may be an opportunity for us to grow by learning from the communities that feel disconnected from us, particularly that of pure arts.

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Through this collaboration, each group gets to experience, learn from, and influence each other's creative processes and ways of thinking:

  1. The entrepreneur gets to communicate a part of themselves with someone—this may fall outside their comfort zone, but is more natural to their artist partner.
  2. The artist gets to represent someone else's experiences. This builds the empathetic muscle that entrepreneurs exercise in design thinking.
  3. Together, the artists and entrepreneurs eventually present and witness the artistic representation of the entrepreneur's journey.

There's a significant potential for impact when we push artists and entrepreneurs to work together directly. And there's a lot to learn about how to catalyze the mindsets of both worlds to evolve into more empathetic, healthy, and authentic versions of themselves.

What will the work look like?

Any new from-scratch initiative invites many question marks. This semester will be research-, ideation-, and planning-heavy, with time dedicated to speaking with students, brainstorming and discussing as a team, and fleshing out the logistics of the program so we are ready to pilot it next semester!

What will it be like to join the committee?

I value open-mindedness in every team—towards each other and our ideas without judgment. I believe in establishing systems proactively for clear communication, and prioritizing mutual trust between teammates. Acknowledging each teammate’s “why” behind being on the team is incredibly important to me, to develop individual and shared north stars that allow us to explore varying questions without straying from our mission.

You should join this committee if you share the following:

  • An ambitious mindset.
  • A commitment to seeing this idea through despite the inevitable question marks we will encounter.
  • Care for high-quality work.
  • A willingness to open your mind to the mission of this committee.
  • Comfort with the uncertainty that comes with experimenting with something new!

Spark Studio

Committee leads:

Jade Franson, Sophomore majoring in Cognitive Science in Dornsife

Cristina Colina, Sophomore majoring in Arts, Technology, & the Business of Innovation in IYA

Reese Bretow, Senior majoring in Business Administration in Marshall

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What is Spark Studio? Here at Spark Studio, we aim to cultivate Spark’s brand through multimedia (digital and physical) output, while fostering an internal culture of exploration, growth, and creative confidence.

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

We strongly believe in providing our members the opportunity to work on and create projects that they are not only proud of, but ultimately advance the ecosystem of entrepreneurship and action within Spark and through Spark’s outward initiatives. If Spark were a startup, we’d be its in-house creative agency, aiming to reinforce Spark’s brand and generate the organization’s outward content.

What will the work look like?

Spark Studio works in a range of mediums, from digital marketing content to web design to physical materials. You’ll learn important design skills and tools while generating a range of portfolio-ready work. And the best part? You’ll be part of a supportive community that prizes your work and empowers you to gain confidence as a designer.

Start-Up Career Fair (SCF)

Committee leads:

Nicole Russack, Junior majoring in Computer Science in Viterbi

Emeka Emetuche, Senior majoring in Economics & Cognitive Science in Dornsife

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What is Start-Up Career Fair? Start-Up Career Fair is a career fair that takes place on USC campus near the end of every semester, organized by Spark! We bring start-ups and other companies to USC and give students a chance to launch their entrepreneurial journeys through immersion in an innovative and fast-paced environment, and help startups hire driven young talent. Last year we had 9 companies come and over 500 students attended!!

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

We are creating this fair to empower students to launch their entrepreneurial journeys through immersion in an innovative and fast-paced environment, and to help startups grow by helping them hire driven young talent. Leading up to the fair we will hold panels designed to be office hours and Q&A with the founders and the leadership of the companies we’re hosting.

What will the work look like?

SCF is a committee for people wanting to explore and make lasting connections across the USC and LA entrepreneurial world. The work is fast-paced, rewarding, engaging, and is fundamentally about working with and talking to people.

  • Scoping and recruiting startups, VCs, fast-growing businesses, and other connections
  • Coordinating and communicating with emerging companies
  • Designing and launching a multimedia advertising campaign
  • Working with USC to raise funding and managing our budget
  • Coordinating logistics for the fair and our Speaker Office Hours (panels)

What will it be like to join the committee?

Join this committee if you want to strengthen your network with amazing entrepreneurs at top companies. SCF will develop your problem-solving, networking, and organizational skills, and work with a fun, social group of students.

SCF is also one of Spark’s most social committees and hosts weekly trips, activities, games, or dinners in line with its core value of helping members build lasting relationships.

After SCF you find yourself with plenty of opportunities and with multiple members from previous semesters being hired by these start-ups.

Trojan Marketplace

Committee leads:

Sarah Hakim, Senior majoring in Industrial & System Engineering in Viterbi

Melis Kolat, Sophomore majoring in Business Administration in Marshall

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What is Trojan MarketPlace? Trojan Marketplace is a student-run flea market event featuring exclusively Trojan-owned small businesses. Our goal is to uplift the entrepreneurship ecosystem at USC by empowering student entrepreneurs and bring the entrepreneurial community together. At our first event in April 2022, we featured over 40 student entrepreneurs at the McCarthy Great Lawn over the span of 3 hours, and accumulated over 1000 visitors!!

What does Trojan MarketPlace have to do with Spark's mission?

  • We create a safe experimentation zone wherein entrepreneurs from our own community are able to gain the confidence to proceed with their endeavors.
  • We create an environment that not only allows for fellow entrepreneurs to meet each other/build a sense of community but also allows for non-entrepreneur Trojans to interact with and support small businesses.
  • Through the combination of professional support, our mixer/social event, and the flea market event, we craft a memorable experience for entrepreneurs which contributes to an enhanced entrepreneurship ecosystem at USC.

What will the work look like?

Trojan Marketplace is a committee that requires the cohesive work of wide array of roles, such as but not limited to: Event Planning, Marketing, Finance, and Vendor Relations. While planning our next event, some of the work will look like:

  • Marketing to Trojan entrepreneurs to secure our vendors
  • Interacting with various USC institutions regarding sponsorship and the logistics of the event
  • Creating social media content that features the perspectives of entrepreneurs
  • Organizing a vendor mixer

…. and so much more!

What will it be like to join the committee?

The work in our committee will be guided by our values. Some of our values include always being in-service to the entrepreneurs, being inclusive, open-minded, and practical.

We also are going to create a very uplifting environment for our Sparklets, where the work that is assigned will be based on interest and enthusiasm. We believe our positive working environment will rub on to our entrepreneurs, making the experience more memorable for them!