Stephen Pender - Ai Instructor

What do you teach at Ai? How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been at AI for almost two years, mostly teaching Global Business courses. I’ve been a professor in Higher Education for 11 years, teaching myriad business courses at the undergraduate and graduate level.

What do you think about Ai so far? What do think about the programs offered?

AI is different from most other colleges, in both the programs offered and the student body. What I found interesting about AI is that they address students’ needs and develop programs for them the same as any other school. In other words, higher education has done a good job of adapting, and AI is one of those schools.

What is your background? What companies or industries did you work for?

I was a radio announcer, a recording engineer, a call center manager, co-owner of a GIS consulting business, a marketing consultant, and owner of a video production company. I managed to avoid the corporate jungle.

Other than teaching, do you have another job or freelance that you do? If so, what?

I’ve been doing video production, web design, and strategic planning for the last few years, as well as some educational consulting in curriculum design.

Tell me about your past experiences in your field. Funny stories or challenges that you’ve overcome?

I once had to bribe a Ghanaian immigration official $150 to allow me to enter the country. In another country I won’t mention, I was detained for suspicion of espionage for 12 hours because I was taking scenic pictures in the wrong place. I’ve eaten worms, rats, and insects in various countries where I was conducting business - they were local delicacies. Global business is never boring.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I like teaching because every once in a while you’ll run into an old student who mentions something you said or did as a teacher that made a difference. Being a catalyst for positive change in someone’s life is powerfully gratifying.

How do you balance family life and your career?

You don’t. The question should be: “What have you sacrificed in order to have a family and a career?” I passed on opportunities so my wife could accept some, and so I could have more time with our kids.

What advice or rule of thumb that you think every student coming up in the ad & graphic design field should know?

Take chances while you’re young, because in 20 years you’ll be the old person in the room who is past their time and only plays it safe. Or, just use Helvetica and sexual innuendo a lot, and you’ll probably get hired by a big agency.

Is there any upcoming events, workshops or anything students should know about and attend?

Yes, it’s called “What is my f___ing plan?” It is an introspective solo seminar all students need to attend. You can attend the seminar any time you can close the door and look in the mirror. Look, its like this: anyone who is in a position to make a difference in your career has something sitting on their desk that they can’t get to. If you know what you want to do, then find the people who are doing it. Figure out what is on their desk and offer to do it for them for free. Within three months they will offer you a job. I’ve done this more times than I can count. No, I am not talking about getting them a coffee refill. I’m talking about the 50 year-old executive who wants to figure out this “viral marketing thing”, or the company that has seriously lost touch with their youth market, or the company that hasn’t had an innovation in 12 years. You know your generation and market better than anyone, so figure out what you want to do with that knowledge and create a career plan. Make a list of the organizations that are doing what you want to do. Think up a pretext and get your message in front of the highest person you can at these organizations. One of them will have a conversation with you. Be insightful, inquisitive, and confident. Find out what has been sitting on their desk. I have literally asked: “Hey, do you have a pet project that has been kicking around I could work on? I’ve got 10 hours a week I could give you for the next three months to see if I could get it jumpstarted.” Regardless of what they say, say yes and you’re in. “We have a client who makes industrial toilet supplies, and they want to be on Facebook. What do you know about that?” Everything. I know everything. Let me come in to talk about it.

You are basically building your own internship, free of the waste of time that comes with most internships. It works, and after three months they’ll either find a job for you or you’ll get a valuable reference. But, you have to have a plan.

your appreciated,


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