The VANTAGE program at Minnetonka High School was one of the most impactful parts of my high school career. It set me apart from other people my age and gave me the skills to succeed in business.
What is it?
The Minnetonka VANTAGE program is a professional studies course for high schoolers. Students are able to learn and apply their coursework in real-world settings. There are seven programs total and I was in the Digital Journalism program. We were able to create videos for local companies and create other content, like podcasts and reports. You can read more about the VANTAGE program here, and the Digital Journalism program here on the VANTAGE website.
One aspect of the VANTAGE program was the mentorship experience. Every student gets paired with a professional in their field. Jennifer Mayerle, an anchor for WCCO, was my mentor. She was a major influence in my VANTAGE experience because she helped me with project ideas and editing videos, along with reviewing resumes and final products. Since graduating, we have kept in contact and have discussed my time at Drake University and recent projects I have done. The mentorship program is essential because it allows students to see inside the professional world and give them a lifelong mentor.
The biggest aspect of the VANTAGE program is the variety of projects throughout the year. Most importantly, we completed two videos for local companies in the Twin Cities area. These projects exposed us to a real business setting because groups had to present to business professionals and learn professionalism.
Bloom Early Learning
For my first big project, I worked with Bloom Early Learning in Maple Grove, MN, which is a child daycare center. One major part of their company is that 50% of enrollment is for low-income families on scholarships. As the project leader for this project, I assisted other project members with editing, communication, and videography throughout. There were some challenges with this project because it was the first business project for everyone in my group. We ran into issues with finding creative ideas for the video. This required a bigger time commitment and a lot of storyboards. Because of this, I developed my time management and group communication skills. Most importantly, I developed my leadership skills.
I Love Photography
Finally, for my second project, I worked with I Love Photography in Hopkins, MN. Elaine Geopfert, the owner of I Love Photography, has built her company on the idea that everyone loves the same and she wants to capture that in her work. For this project, I was the communications director. I served as the connection between my group and Elaine. I had to effectively communicate video concepts, schedule times to film, and interview on-site. In addition, I had to consistently keep Elaine updated on everything our group was working on. Halfway through this project, we lost one of our group members due to unrelated problems. This disrupted the group dynamic because we had to equally divide their role among the rest of us. This took a lot of communication to ensure it was fair but everyone could still complete their original role.
During VANTAGE, we had other projects, including podcasts and journalistic reports. These were either individual or in small groups but the main purpose was to simply learn how different styles of digital journalism are created. We also had optional projects for different events around the Twin Cities, like the Upper Midwest Regional Emmys and the North American Pond Hockey Championship. In these optional projects, it required commitment outside of school hours. Because of this, I continued to develop my time management skills as I was working on my business projects at the same time. You can find these projects in my resume along with links to all my other project videos.
You can read more from my blog here.