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Incubating Creative Entrepreneurs Inside 2112

In the third EPICS Sound MA Career Trek of the quarter, Northwestern Sound Arts and Industries students visited 2112, Chicago’s largest film, technology and music incubator.

“Unless you visit, it can be hard to visualize what an incubator is,” says Katherine Lelek, Assistant Director of the Office of External Programs, Internships and Career Services (EPICS).

The students who attended the Career Trek got a look at 2112’s 160,000-square-foot space, which includes 2112 partner Fort Knox Studios. 2112 has band rehearsal spaces, conference rooms, a warehouse for hosting events and co-working space.

Anyone can become a member of 2112 and use the co-working space to run a business or work on individual projects.

“2112 members are like-minded business people who want to be collaborating across disciplines,” Lelek says. “It’s a hub for that.”

For students interested in business incubators and startup culture, the Career Trek to 2112 was a great opportunity to learn and experience the environment firsthand.

A tour of 2112’s space was only part of the Career Trek experience. Students also heard from a panel of sound experts during a conversation moderated by Lelek. The panel was framed to help students break into audio careers. Though the discussion was geared toward sound students, it was open to the public.

Panelists came from various backgrounds in sound, reinforcing for students that their career options are open. John Ovik is the founder of Deaf Dog Music and works in music production, while Steven Aguilar works more in post-production and advertising as a sound designer/mixer for Particle, a Chicago company that produces audio for TV, film, audio and web.

Lelek broke the discussion down into three parts – background information, industry (current trends and tools students should be aware of) and advice (how students can excel in a career in sound).

“The students who attended [the Career Trek] were interested in what the panel had to say, but they were also interested in the site itself,” Lelek says. “It was a combination of a tour and a learning experience.”

Though sound student Avery Makel couldn’t attend the career Trek, he did serve as 2112’s sound intern last year.

“As a sound student, I was very interested in a few sound production/design/recording companies that were members at 2112,” says Makel. “It seemed like a good opportunity to gain exposure to innovative companies in sound arts and get experience in a startup atmosphere.”

Makel set up audio systems at both 2112 and Fort Knox Studios. His internship also gave him the opportunity to rub shoulders with those in the industry.

“I had the honor of working with Paul Norman of ICON Pro Studios and a co-founder of 2112,” Makel says. “Working with [him] was huge for me. He’s an amazingly talented guy.”

The final Career Trek of the quarter followed a week later, when students traveled to WBEZ Chicago to tour the facilities with the director of the studio and head of broadcast operations.