Working Towards My Dreams : A Student Reflection

A Personal Reflection by Dominique Smith

I first met Shaun Tai, the executive director of Oakland Digital, at Diablo Valley College where he presented the 2015 “Inspire Oakland” billboard competition to my Art Digital Media class. The competition immediately captured my interest, not only because I could possibly have my art displayed on a billboard, but because I could also have the opportunity to visit a major company and perhaps network with their employees, as well as have the chance to become an intern at Oakland Digital.

DominiqueSmith-OaklandDigital I was originally hesitant to participate in the competition, because I am not a digital design major. Typography and drawing are not skills of mine, and I did not know much about Illustrator or Photoshop. The reason those conflicts did not prevent me from going forth with the competition is because I remembered I am skilled in other ways, I am skilled at using my imagination to create ideas, stories, images and understand complex concepts. That’s what I thrived off of and used those skills and photography to execute my billboard design.

Shaun and the Oakland Digital team were much more receptive to my design than I expected, but my design still fell short of the others. For my participation I was rewarded with the opportunity to join Oakland Digital on a tour to the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, which was an inspiration in itself. I left Twitter more motivated and excited for my future than I ever had been. From my experience at Twitter I learned that whatever industry one pursues there has to be not only hard work put in but passion as well. Getting a job at a place like Twitter doesn’t just happen overnight. It has to do with more than the skills one brings to the table, but the people one knows, and the experience one has.

Shortly after going to Twitter with Oakland Digital there was a period of time that had elapsed where I only stayed up to date with them through social media and I had not really stayed in contact with Shaun at all. In late November, as my semester at DVC was nearing the end, I reached out to Shaun curious to know if Oakland Digital had anything to offer me not for a career in digital design, but for a career in Public Relations. As I expected, Shaun welcomed me with open arms and asked me to volunteer at Oakland Digital’s 6th annual Inspiration Awards 2015. I accepted the role and it was an honor to work with Shaun and the rest of the Oakland Digital team.

The Inspiration Awards was truly inspiring, the speakers were amazing, people were very warm and open to conversation, and it felt good to surrounded by people who believe in chasing after their dreams. Shaun had a lot of trust in me that fueled me to successfully get the job done. The award ceremony itself evoked a great amount of emotion in me, because it was another reminder that I have so much to look forward to in life and I truly appreciate Oakland Digital for giving college students like myself the opportunity to work towards our dreams.