Every year, the iSchool’s Peer Advisors put in an amazing amount of effort to help high school students figure out if the iSchool is the right place for them. Two of these Peer Advisors, BS in Information Management and Technology majors Andy Ades ’16 and Alex Lederman ’16, dedicated their time and talents to creating Periscope Tours for prospective students who can’t come to campus. Whether it’s through creating videos or live-streamed tours, Andy and Alex are always thinking of ways to make sure that anyone can experience what it means to be an iSchool student.
Before they graduated and left the Syracuse University campus for bigger and better things, InfoSpace had the chance to sit down with Andy and Alex and reflect on their iSchool careers.
Let’s start from the beginning. Where are you from, and how did you discover the iSchool?
Andy Ades: I’m from the Boston area – Needham MA, which is about 20 minutes outside of Boston. My older sister – one of my older sisters, I have three of them – went to Syracuse. I loved the atmosphere. I fell in love with the iSchool when I got a tour and was just blown away by the tight-knit community.
Alex Lederman: I’m from right outside of New York City in Westchester, NY. I actually came up to Syracuse just to visit a school of this size. I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to go, or what kind of school I wanted. I fell in love with the campus, first and foremost, but I was walking past this building and it said “School of Information Studies” and I was like: what’s that?
I came inside, I met Julie [Walas-Huynh, the iSchool’s director of advising and student engagement], she gave me a tour, and I instantly knew. I knew this was the place for me because at the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. The iSchool seemed like a place where I could come and figure out where I wanted to take my passion for technology.
You both accomplished a lot here at the iSchool, and most of it is volunteering or student organizations work. What was your motivation to get so involved?
Andy: I’ve always been involved. I’ve always liked getting involved in the behind-the-scenes stuff, and I did it a lot in high school, doing videos, setting up events … so when I came to the iSchool, I immediately saw the connection. The iSchool had that small, tight-knit community where I thought I could probably do more of the same stuff I was doing in high school, but on a bigger scale.
Julie got us to do an It Girls video (as seen below), which then led into the Periscope tours. I’ve always been that kind of person that sees new technology and tries to create something that’s hopefully really cool.
Alex: I’ve always been involved with things as well – probably more here, in the iSchool, than in high school. But when I came here I just saw these opportunities and I didn’t want to say no to anything. I think the first thing that I started at the iSchool was working at SIDEARM Sports, which really unlocked the door to other things.
I really like working with other people, and helping people have the same experience that I had at the iSchool. So that’s why we’ve been so involved with peer advising, because it’s great bringing these new students in and teaching them what the iSchool really is. Because, yeah, we do cool stuff with technology – but it’s so much more than that.
On paper, people are probably scared away by the technology side of the iSchool. But once you come here, and you see how human it is, and how tight-knit of a group it is, you really just want to get more involved.
Andy: I think Syracuse, in general, opens up the door for helping people and volunteering. I know that from doing SUA (Syracuse University Ambulance). I was a lifeguard in high school and at my summer camp; I didn’t want to go into medicine, but I joined an ambulance corps. There are so many opportunities, not just in the iSchool but also on campus, that I have trouble saying “no.”
Tell us about the Periscope Tours!
Alex: First off, Stephanie [Worden, the iSchool’s Undergraduate Recruiter] came to us with the idea. The iSchool is all about using cutting-edge technology, but it’s also about humanizing that technology and using it effectively and in a way that helps people.
We have people that come to Syracuse University from all over the world, but unfortunately, they can’t all make it here to campus [for a visit]. So the idea to have some of our best students introducing themselves to prospective students online, without the need to travel to campus, was really powerful.
Andy: We thought about putting the phone on a selfie stick and using the phone’s camera for Periscope. Then that week, GoPro launched their integration with Periscope. I knew of this setup with this giant pole, and this ridiculous stabilizing gimbal so it’s stable when you walk around. It makes the video immersive as you walk around the hallways, or into a classroom. The next thing I knew, Steph said “send me a list of everything you need,” and within a few days, she had it for us.
Alex: I was really impressed with the production. We got something that was not only educational, but it also looked good. We can use it live, but we can cut some cool tour videos from it afterwards. It’s not only going to benefit those who can make it from the live sessions, but it’s going to benefit people who can go in and, on demand, take a tour of the iSchool.
Andy: I think one of our favorite ones was with Zach Wilder, and he went out to Lawrinson residence hall and the sunset was there … it was perfect, it was incredible, and he nailed it.
Once you come here, and you see how human it is … you really just want to get more involved.” – Alex Lederman ’16
If you have one piece of advice for incoming freshman and rising seniors, what is it?
Alex: For incoming freshman – and I’m sure they’re going to hear this a thousand times, but I think it really is true – is to get involved early. Because you only have four years here, and the reason that we were able to foster these amazing relationship is because we did jump into things very early, and you do have four years to get to know people. And by the end of your time you have these unbelievable relationships with people.
For seniors, I’d say, this is your time. You’re a real person after this, right? It’s a good time to practice that. It’s your time to step up as the leaders of your class, and don’t be afraid to do that. Because you’ve been watching other people do it for three years, and even if you don’t think you know how, you probably do know how – just try it.
Andy: Be yourself. That’s cliché, but come in knowing who you are, and when you join those new organizations, don’t completely hold back. If you have a talent, make it known. I could have been [doing video work] starting freshman year, not senior year. Don’t be afraid to go at it and show what you already know from high school.
And this goes for both the freshman and seniors: don’t be afraid to change your passion or don’t be afraid to find something new sophomore year, or junior year, or senior year of college. Go for it, don’t hold back before it gets too late. There’s always room to change direction and try something new.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
You can watch one of the the Periscope tours that Andy and Alex hosted below – or pick another from our Periscope Tour YouTube Playlist.