Eliot Circular

Working Weekend 2013

A panel on nonprofits and philanthropy featured Sunny Daly ’03, David Gordon ’90, Martha Darling ’66 [trustee], Yee Wan Chon (Western States Center), and Johanna Thoeresz ’87. Photos by Leah Nash

Reporting by Alex Blum ’14 and Miles Bryan ’13

Some 99 alumni volunteers descended upon campus in February for the second annual Working Weekend, a three-day whirlwind of workshops, panels, and networking with the goal of jumpstarting Reed students’ careers.

The weekend kicked off with a series of panels covering a wide range of professions. Students interested in legal careers headed to the panel Law in a Time of Cholera to hear Reed lawyers give advice about how to get a law degree without losing your soul. Reedies interested in graphic design and video games flocked to Is it Fun Yet? Entertainment Technology from Screen to Bits

Other panels included:

• Towers of Gold: How Capitalism and Finance Drive the Economy

• International Diplomacy & Development 

• USAID & State Department

• Medicine & Health 

• Science, Engineering, and Allied Professions

• Internet/Software

• Small Business

• Write, Edit, Publish!

• No Change Without Some Change ($); Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Robert Smith

WW13 also featured some career training. On the fourth floor of Eliot, NPR correspondent NPR correspondent Robert Smith ’89 demonstrates how to do that “radio voice” in a two-day Radio Bootcamp.

WW13 also featured some career training. On the fourth floor of Eliot, NPR correspondent Robert Smith ’89 led a group of Reedies through an intensive two-day Radio Bootcamp. On Saturday, each student came up with the premise of a short story—known in the business as a “spot”—then conducted interviews, gathered sound, and edited the piece together. 

Meanwhile, Reedies of an entrepreneurial bent were hunkered down in Vollum lecture hall for the StartUp Lab.

Led by Bay Area technology entrepreneur Lucas Carlson ’05, the StartUp Lab was an intensive simulation of the process of creating and selling an idea. Students worked with entrepreneurs and investors who helped them incubate ideas for start-up companies and strategize ways to bring the products to market. The lab squeezed all the steps of an entrepreneur—inspiration, development, honing, and the pitch to an investor—into three short days, without ever leaving Vollum. 

Connor LaBean ’14, Anjuli Dharna ’14, and Ben Stephens ’14 were awarded $2,500 to help propel Genebot, a robotic lab assistant, from conception to reality.

Working Weekend

User experience wizard Bram Wessel ’90 brainstorms entrepreneurial ideas with Emily Crotteau ’13 in StartUp Lab.

The idea for Genebot came last summer after Connor spent countless hours pipetting solutions in a Duke University lab for cloning experiments. A platform for DNA-sequence handling and cloning, Genebot would eliminate much of the manual labor from genetics research. It is capable of sharing data for open-source experiments and is projected to be marketable at a cheaper price than current alternatives. Currently, Connor says, high-volume research is limited to biotech companies. Genebot would make such research affordable to institutions of lesser means and enable graduate students and interns to spend more of their time doing science.

Joseph Warren ’13 and Jacob Canter ’14, pitched Agora, a mobile phone-enabled payment system for small and local businesses. Studying monetary economics, Joseph realized how small businesses are hampered by the relatively high transition costs of accepting credit cards. Agora (“marketplace” in Greek) is a smartphone application that would enable consumers to browse products from local businesses, making purchases through an Agora account. By eliminating credit cards as the middleman, not only do consumers save money, Jacob says, they support both small businesses and local communities.

Chuks Emmanuel Enemchukwu ’16 proposed Maaha Edu, an open-source social platform accessible via mobile phones that would directly connect students in Anglophone West Africa to knowledge. By making learning more accessible, Chuks hopes this innovation can help to alleviate the high failure rate in the region’s schools.

Also making it to the final round but unable to present due to illness was Emily Crotteau ’13, whose start-up idea, Green Almanac, would establish a program to educate first-time gardeners.

WW13 was coordinated by Brooke Hunter, assistant director for strategic partnerships in Reed’s career services, who noted that the event saw a dramatic upswing in student engagement. “Having mentors’ profiles up early on the web pages encouraged students to reach out,” she said. “Mentors appreciated the contact and hopefully students feel the tangible excitement to engage and to get help from mentors.”

The energy level at the events was pronounced. “We are so thankful to all those who took the time and made the investment to return to campus to share their insights with students,” said Mike Tesky, director of alumni and parent relations. “This event is a testament to the power of an engaged alumni body.”