Bachelor of Illustration
Graduation Year: 2007
After graduating from Sheridan, Stephen landed a full-time job with the college’s Student Union. He served as Creative Director, working on a variety of projects, including Travis Magazine and The Wire (Sheridan’s Student Network). Under his leadership, Travis won the Applied Arts Young Bloods Design Award in 2010. Now Stephen is filling the same role at the Student Life Network (SLN), a social networking company he co-founded in 2009. With its beginnings as a community-building project right here at Sheridan, SLN has grown to provide private social networks to over 50 colleges and universities across Canada.
What are the most common pitfalls organizations fall into when using social media?
Having no clear strategy. Most organizations don't know actually know why they are using social media, aside from the fact "everyone's doing it." Companies need to identify the benefits they can bring to their community, employees, or potential customers with the social web.
Believing that "if you build it they will come". No, they won't. You cannot build a community of fans with a 30-second spot or a beautiful ad. Social media is a shift in the way we do business. Your community of fans are out there but they aren't simply going to find you, love you or interact with you because you setup digital shop on Facebook. You must publish meaningful content that generates real interaction and genuine feedback from your community. This is where the real work starts.
Because our company builds and manages social networks, I see how powerful and effective they can be when used correctly. It’s a beautiful thing to see students using these tools for social good and understanding that the core value of networking is sharing.
What led you to Sheridan?
My high school art teacher (a Sheridan alumnus) made it clear that the most talented students in the country would be competing with me to get into Sheridan. I was determined to be accepted into the Illustration program before I even visited the campus. In my mind there was no other alternative.
What are some of your best Sheridan memories?
I enjoyed being a Peer Mentor. I had a chance to meet so many talented people and become familiar with all the services and opportunities around the college, including those in the Student Union. My job with the SU clearly changed the direction of my life. As far as my studies go, I can’t remember a single grade I received but I remember every late night I spent in the studio collaborating over projects with my buddies.
What is the best lesson you learned at Sheridan?
I stopped working harder and learned to work smarter. Our teachers showed us the value of surrounding yourself with talented people who aren’t afraid to challenge you to get the best possible outcome. We learned to work off each other’s strengths, saving ourselves time so we could to focus and execute. This approach has helped me become a better leader.
What's your advice to a new Illustration grad?
Fail fast, fail often, and fail forward. School is an opportunity to explore, take risks and network with other like-minded students. Don’t get caught up trying to fit in when you should be trying to stand out.