Zarick technically pursues, perseveres

By BenitaZepeda

Once a month, The Chronicle profiles people on campus who are doing interesting or important things.

We’re always watching for faculty, staff and students with a story to tell. Here’s someone you should know.

For most college students, finding time to keep a full-time status, maintain a social life and even work a part-time job would cause enough stress to make one’s head explode.

However, Daniel Zarick, junior interdisciplinary major in the arts, entertainment and media management and graphic design programs, finds time to work for Student Communications as a project manager, is the project coordinator for AEMMP Records, just snagged his first job in his field and among the plethora of various campus projects was just named one of the Top 50 Technology Students in the state by the Illinois Tech Foundation.

Zarick sat down with The Chronicle and explained how it feels to be one of the Top 50, what he wants from of his education and where he hopes to be after graduation.

The Chronicle: So what have you been involved with on campus?

Daniel Zarick: I started in 2007 in the fall and I will graduate spring 2011. I came in and lived at 2 E. 8th [St.] and my [Resident Adviser] was a tour guide. I was looking for a job and they had openings, so I started out as a tour guide freshman year.  Around that same time I became the president of CLICK, a student networking organization, and because I was the only member that wasn’t graduating in December of my freshman year, I became the president after being a member for like three months.  My sophomore year I was an RA.

Spring of last year, I kind of got really burnt out on everything. I was done being an RA and a tour guide and I gained a lot [ of experience], but there wasn’t much more to be gained, so I moved off campus. I got a new job in the Student Communications Office, so sometimes I manage things like The Startbook, where I help make sure things are running and I help build that Web site.

I am helping to rebuild The Loop and Oasis and also work with ColumFM. I am helping to do the student handbook, so I am editing through all the text so our designer can make the physical one. Then I am managing and potentially helping to develop how it will live online, but we have a full-time developer that will really make it look nice.

Those are my big things right now. Tons of schoolwork, tons of student communications work and then AEMMP Records, which is like a second job.

The Chronicle: Can you talk about your role with AEMMP Records?

DZ: I am also project coordinator for AEMMP Records—myself and Chadd Kline. I do Big Science, which is one of our bands, and he does Pet Lions, which is our other band.  So we oversee each band and all the projects within them.

We took both bands to [South by Southwest this year] and everyone in the class went. So we were down there the week before spring break and that was kind of crazy trying to route tours with the bands and getting them shows down there. We also put on our own party down there, which the admissions office sponsored and we had a couple other sponsors as well. There were a couple hundred people there throughout the day so that was

very successful.

We’re laser cutting the Big Science vinyl sleeves in the Interactive Arts and Media Department in this awesome, cross-department collaboration, which doesn’t happen enough at Columbia. They are helping us out by letting us use their laser cutter and Patrick Lichty in the department has been helping us laser cut.

The Chronicle: Is department crossover something you would like to see more of as a student at Columbia?

DZ: I think almost everyone should treat their major as interdisciplinary rather than “I am just journalism” or “I am just painting or film.” I don’t think there is enough “Hey, we can really help each other out between departments.” Various departments] have these awesome resources, why can’t we use them?  The thing we are always taught, which isn’t always backed up, is when we graduate we are all kind of going to cross paths multiple times again, and we all talk about that but then within the walls of Columbia, we aren’t crossing paths very often and I kind of wish that would happen more.

The Chronicle: So how did you find out about The Top 50 Technology Students?

DZ: I really came across a random link on Twitter one day and saw it and followed it, and thought, “Oh, well I might as well apply.” I asked Dan Sinker for a nomination. I don’t think that anyone else from Columbia knew about this or applied. A lot of the other students I talked to at the event said their faculty told them about it.

The Chronicle: What exactly is The Top 50 For the Future award?

DZ: Four years ago, The Illinois Tech Foundation wanted to recognize students that were hopefully going to be leading the technology world a couple years down the road, at least in Chicago and Illinois. So they created this award to reach out and see who is doing interesting things.

Every year they try to recognize a total of 50 undergrads, graduate and technical students. And then they recognize another 10 high school students on top of that. The point is to recognize [the students], get them to the event and bring a bunch of top level executives from local corporations.

I was talking to the chief technology officer  of Groupon, and they are a year-and-a-half old and they are really popular. I saw he was one of the judges. So I sent him a Tweet asking, “Hey, are you going to be there next week, we should talk,” and he was like, “Yes, let’s do it.” The outcome of being a part of it was very beneficial because now we will keep in touch and maybe I will reach out to him when I need advice or something.

The Chronicle: Is that your best advice to students in that situation, working a solution to their frustrations?

DZ: Yes. Stop complaining about why things aren’t working for you and figure out how to make it work for you. Take advantage of being a student. I am so sick of being in school still, but the benefits of being a student are endless. It’s all about utilizing being a student and people deem it almost like a charity to talk to and give attention to students. Ask questions of [professionals] because as soon as we graduate, we are just another person without a job or working at a company that person knows.