The bright green Road Trip Nation bus will pull onto the Oregon State campus on Nov. 9, and students interested in learning more about the student-driven adventure series on PBS should stop in and find out how they can participate in their own road trip.
Last year, Kevin McIntosh, Scott Rosenbalm and Sean Connell, three College of Engineering juniors from OSU, took a sponsored Road Trip to the Bay Area to interview folks from Nvidia, Wired Magazine and Google, and blogged about their trip on the Road Trip Nation Web site. Footage from that team’s trip will be debuted during the bus’s visit to OSU, and pizza and live music will be provided. The bus will be parked in the Memorial Union Quad between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 9. The video debut will take place at 12:30 p.m.
Recently, Kevin, Scott and Sean took the time to answer a few questions we had about their travels.
Who are some of the people you interviewed?
KM: Jen-Hsun Huang – CEO of NVIDIA, Pablo Cohn – Tech Lead of Google Labs at Google, Joe Brown – Associate Editor at Wired Magazine, and Peter Norvig – Director of Research
How did you select your location/interview subjects?
KM: Initially, we wanted to find a location that would be reasonable to drive to in a limited amount of time, had the greatest number of potential interviewees that reflects our personal interests, and was in an area that seemed interesting and exciting enough. The result: The San Fransisco Bay Area. We could drive to the location in one day, was the home of the Silicon Valley (this represented our interest in Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science) and had so many tourist destinations that we would barely have enough time to even see a quarter of them.
From there, we compiled a list of potential people (with the help of friends, family members, Kartikeya Mayaram, and Ron Adams) affiliated with technology to some degree.
How many times did your requests get rejected?
KM: To be blunt, we were rejected quite often. The reasons for this was not necessarily because the company did not view our goal as important but more so that the time frame that we were in the Bay Area conflicted with their schedule. Most thought that our project was a great idea and did their best to assist us in getting the interview.
What’s some advice you came away with that surprised you?
SR: One token of advice that I heard a few times was to seriously consider going where your friends go for a career. I had always imagined that getting a good job after college meant picking up and moving to the middle of who-knows-where and starting all over meeting new friends. I think that banding together with some friends in a career could make all of us happier and a lot better at what we do.
Has the experienced changed anything about your goals or what you will do when you graduate?
SR: Every person we interviewed had a fairly long list of crappy jobs they had to go through to get where they are today. I’m not worried about finding the best job right away, as long as I am always learning from it.
Do you really believe you gained practical advice from your sources?
SC: A lot of the advice we were given was abstract. Even though this advice wasn’t readily applicable to everyday situations, it was more life level guidance, I think hearing it from people who have achieved such high levels of success really makes it a lot more valid.
Has the experience changed the way you approach people in power?
SC: Interviewing people in such lofty positions was a new experience for me. Somewhat surprisingly, all of our interviewees were human. I can now imagine meeting people famous in their field. Instead of being mythical figures they’re just people, albeit people with a lot of success.
About Roadtrip Nation
In the summer of 2001, recent college grads Mike Marriner, Brian McAllister, and Nathan Gebhard decided to take a roadtrip to discover their place in the world. The idea behind the roadtrip was simple: If you don’t know what to do with your life, go out and talk to people who are doing what they love, then ask them how they got there. The trio hit the road in a mechanically unsound green RV, and three months and 17,000 miles later had interviewed 85 eclectic individuals including the Chairman of Starbucks, the scientist who decoded the human genome, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a lobsterman from Maine, the director of Saturday Night Live, and a stylist for Madonna.
Since then, Roadtrip Nation has evolved into a movement to help individuals define their own lives: a public television series, three books, an online community and a student network on over 350 campuses. Roadtrip Nation’s “Behind the Wheel” and “Independent Roadtrip Grants” programs enable students to hit the road to interview their own list of leaders across the country.