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Columbia College Chicago
Benjamin Dauer

Benjamin Dauer

Benjamin Dauer
Benjamin Dauer - Business & Entrepreneurship Alumnus

Where did you end up after Graduation?
I've ended up in a few places since Graduation.

While in Chicago I worked at the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs as well as taught several programs at Columbia College (Retail Management, Computer Uses for Managers and Writing for Managers).

During my time in North Carolina, I scored music for dance companies, did freelance design work for clients like the Ackland Art Museum and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, and eventually took a design job with the University of North Carolina.

And in Washington, DC, I held design roles with the American Institute of Architects, Deloitte Consulting (on site with the National Science Foundation), and finally at NPR. I also spent 6 months in Europe working with Soundcloud in Berlin, Germany, before returning to DC and my role at NPR.

What are you working on/have you done recently?
While at SoundCloud I worked on their next generation of applications, helping them shape the future of audio on the web, and continue to grow as the world’s leading social sound platform. The coming months will see a redesigned iOS app, new and engaging embeddable widgets, as well as robust partner tools for labels and other content providers.

Most recently, my design of the NPR Music for iPad app was recognized as a 2013 Communication Arts Interactive Annual Winner as well as a 2013 Official Webby Award Nominee and People's Voice Award Nominee. It's free to download from the app store so I encourage everyone to give it a try. Here's the pitch: "The NPR Music for iPad app is a visually-stunning multimedia magazine that reimagines exclusive NPR Music content for a new generation of listeners. Its streamlined design showcases hundreds of public radio music stations, album previews, live performances and Tiny Desk Concert videos. The app delivers the ultimate immersive music discovery experience, seamlessly combining editor picks with personalized recommendations through an innovative gesture-based playlist and the ability to create a custom playlist available for offline listening."

How did Columbia’s Business & Entrepreneurship program prepare you for these projects?
Most important for me was Columbia's holistic approach to education. Columbia recognizes the importance of balancing the humanities with program specific courses in shaping well-rounded students.

I also valued greatly the "working" instructors - this provided timeliness in what material/subject matter was taught in the classrooms. Current events/topics frequently made a direct impact on the lesson plans.

Was there a particular professor that greatly impacted your journey?
There are actually two professors that come to mind. Within the Business & Entrepreneurship program, Bradford Thacker (Retail Management), and outside the program, Stephen Asma (Humanities/Philosophy).

How so?
Bradford Thacker identified skills in me that would benefit the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and offered me an internship. By trusting me and allowing me to take on more responsibility, I quickly rose from an Intern to the Manager of Retail Operations.

Stephen Asma's courses on philosophy and science, both incredibly challenging and rewarding, helped hone my creative and critical thinking skills in a variety of settings.

Because of these two instructors, I am equally at ease in the studio, the classroom, and the board room.

What words of wisdom or advice would you give to the current students?
Here are a few, in no particular order:

- Be an active listener
When asking questions try to thoughtfully engage your audience. Don't just listen for what you want to hear.

- Remove yourself from the equation
More often than not, the work you are doing is not about you. It is about your audience.

- Avoid the vacuum
Whenever possible, don't work alone. Talk with people whether they are your teammates or guerrilla testers in a cafe. Solicit input/feedback as often as possible and remember your audience. (sense a theme here?)

- Be humble
Know when you're right and know when you're wrong.

- Be honest
With yourself, with your team, and with your time.

- Pay respect
We're all in this together and we all have people to thank.

- Don't be afraid to fail
Challenge yourself at all times and learn from every experience - good or bad.

- Learn to say no
This can be the hardest lesson to learn but also one of the most important.

- Laugh

We all want to live longer right? Enjoy what you do.