“My family is primarily from the South side of Chicago. When I was an infant, we moved to North Minneapolis because my parents thought it would be better to raise children there. I guess I take after a lot of my family in having interest in the arts. I started off by drawing characters from animes, and eventually I learned how to draw my own characters. From there I got into breakdancing, creative writing, songwriting, and even music production. Through it all, my parents were very accommodating of me. It was never, ‘Oh you can’t do that.’ If I put effort into it and it shows some type of payoff, my parents are fully behind me doing it.
The only thing they ever hit home was to make sure it’s something you can actually make money off of and make sure it’s something you can do for yourself. Just always have that option of being able to work for yourself.”
// Creative, ambitious, analytical
// A student at Columbia College Chicago
// Getting a designer job at Nike, starting my own zine + magazine, creating a blues album by the time I’m 30
Assisting team member Gaia with her presentation; leading a client meeting with the Lincoln Playground Project.
“I found Rêve Academy the summer after my sophomore year. I liked the work I was doing, liked the environment, so they asked me to come back fall session, spring session, and the following summer. That’s when I was asked to become a senior intern and lead a team of interns.
My advice to new senior interns is first, mentally prepare yourself. Second, you have to have some type of investment in this work. That and being able to work with different types of people from personalities, backgrounds, and world views. And then you have to be willing to put aside your own opinions and listen to others. You’re not going to be able to set up a perfect work plan, or know how to deal with every person, or have an immediate solution to all your problems.
Be okay with failure. It’s good to have expectations, but there are going to be setbacks and you’re going to have to deal with those. Once you have that mental readiness, the work won’t be too hard.”
Michael and other interns participating in a workshop with Graveti members.
“I’ve learned a lot at Rêve Academy. I always considered myself to be very professional, but there are things I wouldn’t naturally pay attention to, like the way you set up an email and how you sign off, with a thank you or a little tagline. When I do my freelance work, the team here has helped me figure out how much I should be getting paid and how to communicate properly from my end, so I’m not being taken advantage of as an artist and a worker. And since I’ve built up my network here, I can find a job elsewhere when it’s time.
When I started, the challenge was getting accustomed to the tools I had to use in the role of a graphic designer. Learning Photoshop, Illustrator, learning how to code—it helped me understand what I do and don’t like. Now that I’ve had years to work on those skills, the most challenging aspect is my new position as a senior intern.
You’re essentially a project leader and a project manager. That’s setting me up to take on a leadership position in the future as an art director or even creative director. So gaining those skills and knowing that I want to get to that point, it’s one step below me being able to run my own company.”
Michael gained both technical and professional skills in his internship—and he didn’t have to pay a cent. In fact, we paid him a fair wage for his work each week, while he learned:
// Project management
// Agile development
Rêve Academy’s student interns of summer 2017.
Become a digital volunteer and help our interns as they work on real-world projects. Or show our kids what an ordinary day looks like for a working professional. There are lots of ways to get involved, so don’t be shy—we can’t wait to meet you!