San Francisco Digital Innovation Program Immerses Students in the Tech World

October 2013

Senior Supply Chain Management major Ryan Roeber had an awesome spring semester. For sixteen weeks in the spring of 2013, Ryan, along with 18 classmates and professor Glenn Platt, spent time in San Francisco, as part of the Miami University San Francisco Digital Innovation Program (SFDI).

The SFDI Program is an immersive, experiential program in which students spend a semester interning with startups, networking with the technology community, meeting innovators, and visiting companies. The idea is that students get business experience from a variety of venues—and many of them receive job offers at the end of the semester.

This spring, during the first week of the program, Dr. Platt set up interviews between his students and companies that he thought would mesh well with the students' interests and backgrounds. Monday through Friday, the students would work with these companies and go to two different networking events throughout the city. Every Friday, they would visit a larger company (i.e. Apple, Google, etc.) and take a tour and learn about what San Francisco has to offer bright young business students.

Ryan was paired with Chute, a social media-focused startup two blocks from his apartment. Chute's mission revolves around social media analytics—it gives companies the ability to track hashtags on Twitter and Instagram and to publish those statistics on a website or Facebook page. Ryan was there to learn and jump into the technology scene.

"My role in the company varied from day to day, which was great," he said. "Not having a set role allowed me to get experience in various departments within the company. One day I would come in and work with the customer support team, the next day sales or another day business development."

His experience with Chute was a fulfilling one, and it was an educational journey that will be beneficial for his future. "I loved it," he said. "I went into this with the intention of broadening my capabilities. I tried to get my feet wet in as many tech things as possible, though my primary responsibility was business and customer support. I even taught myself a little bit of coding.

Ryan's time with Chute and in San Francisco translated to vital experience that he will use in his career once he graduates from Miami in May 2014, since his goals revolve around entrepreneurial endeavors. "In a startup you have to be a go-getter and make things happen on your own," he said.

He is adamant that studying somewhere other than a classroom is something every Miami student should do. "Too often, students don't know what's out there—they settle for a job in the Midwest and never think about the opportunities outside of this area," he said. "By going out to San Francisco, the tech hub of the country, I got to experience things I never would have if I had stayed here. It's really eye-opening."