My Major Dilemma Podcast

Brad Beebee, Jared Andersen, J. R. Canaan, and Tracy Paz (l-r) with the My Major Dilemma podcast logo (picture provided by Jared Andersen).

Jared Andersen

(2019 - 2020 Brad Beebee, Jared Andersen, Tracy Paz, and J.R. Canaan)

 

The idea behind the My Major Dilemma project was to help undecided students have a resource to learn more about the various majors with the College of Engineering and Technology. Brad Beebee first introduced the concept, and it was our collective experience that we had spent a longer than average amount of time early in our college career trying to find out what degree was right for us. Some of us had even spent years in a certain degree only to find that it wasn't for us and change majors, effectively starting over. My Major Dilemma aims to solve that issue by speaking with University Professors and Staff in a down-to-earth way about what types of things you learn in their program, the aptitudes that may help a student excel, opportunities within the program, and even potentially work after graduation.

During my time working on the podcast, one thing that struck me was just the variety of opportunities available to students just within our College. Although they were not all for me, the degrees sounded exciting, and the Professors and Staff were enthusiastic about what they do and about helping their students. Most would say things on the podcast like, "If you're thinking about looking into this degree, come and talk to me. My office is in room so and so, and I would be happy to talk to you all about it." However, this type of information is nearly unavailable to new students, and so I realized just how groundbreaking this podcast really could be. Something like this would have probably saved me, personally, multiple semesters and so many sleepless nights, and I know my teammates would avidly agree.

One of the biggest challenges for the podcast was trying to schedule time with our guests. We did what we could to be as clear as possible in the emails we sent, but still, there was so much confusion and so many scheduling issues. Most of our guests showed up not knowing what they were doing, and many had never even been in front of a microphone. I would say we practically spent as much time finding guests, sending emails, and coordinating schedules as we spend in the studio. We found that proper planning using shared notes, a group email, and Google sheets helped us stay on top of things. Then we just had to schedule time amongst ourselves to draft emails and search for new potential guests.

While previous coursework on how to record, mix, and master audio, as well as microphone and equipment choice, was essential to making the podcast a success, one of the most applicable lessons we learned throughout our time in the degree was the importance of efficient setup, replicable sessions, and overall just making your guests feel comfortable and at home. This meant providing water bottles, being sincerely interested in what they had to say, taking time to joke and help them feel at ease, and just making the process seem effortless. Without those things, an uneasy guest can leave you with an uninteresting podcast regardless of your audio quality.

And of course, considering the length of each episode (40 mins to an hour), good templates, as well as good takes and replicable sessions, were essential.

 

Listen to the 2019 -2020 podcast recordings.

Kerry Burnett

(2020 - 2021 Jacob Byington, Kerry Burnett, and Camille Miner)

 

I learned a lot while working on the My Major Dilemma project. I've listened to a lot of podcasts before but never really produced one. It was a team effort to do everything from reaching out to people to interview to editing the recordings and mastering them for release. The courses we had taken in the program before working on this project helped us to know the basics of the process. Recording and editing with Pro Tools was something we had experience with because of those classes. Our Mastering class also helped us know industry-standard specs to get our episodes to where they needed to be loudness-wise.

It was challenging for us to get started initially because of the pandemic limiting some people from being able to meet with us. Along with that, just getting replies from those we reached out to proved difficult! We had to push through a lack of responses and keep asking for people to come in. We made things work by interviewing others than those we had on our list to reach our goals. We prepared to record over Zoom or Teams if needed. Luckily near the end of the project, the pandemic limitations started easing up, and everyone we interviewed came into the studio. 

Personally, the most significant challenge was realizing that I needed to work on my interviewing skills. I can usually think on my feet, but when it comes to asking questions to someone I don't know about topics I'm not very familiar with, I got in my head a little bit. Preparing our guests with questions beforehand and having the list of questions in front of me while I interviewed helped. Also, doing some research into our interviewees made the process easier.