Iovine Academy breeds virtual reality innovation

Montana Reed might be in his second year at USC, but his major is still fairly new — both to him and the University. That’s because Reed is majoring in art, technology and the business of innovation with an emphasis on design and venture management, as part of the first class in the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for the Arts.

Reed’s emphasis on design and venture management is a result of his interest in running a small business to do design for products. This past summer, the sophomore had the opportunity to intern with Create Advertising in Culver City, entertainment marketing agency that specializes in fulfilling the creative needs of film, television, gaming and branding clients. Reed interned in the company’s virtual reality research and development department along with two other Academy students, Matt Stern and Evan Bovie.

Representatives of Create Advertising were brought in as guest speakers at The Academy to discuss the concept of virtual reality. They also talked about the production process, which resonated with Reed and allowed him to hypothesize projects and connect with them about the internship. He explained that he went into the internship not knowing exactly what to expect or how much he would end up learning.

“There are no virtual reality professionals that exist necessarily, so going into that field, we didn’t really have much to work off of,” Reed said. “It was more just moving forward and discovering new things for [the company].”

He began his internship testing experiences the company had already created, as well as networking with interested parties. But eventually, he moved into the creative side for the production of a new project where he and his colleagues were able to have their own input.

Reed believes that The Academy prepared him well for the internship. He said the intimate focus of having a small academic environment generated an atmosphere in which students could learn not only from professors, but also from each other. Reed described how he and his colleagues were able to utilize a range of skills for the company in the areas of design, business, technology, coding, film and mechanical engineering.

“The people we were working for were actually pretty blown away,” Reed said. “It really impressed them how three people who were freshmen were able to accomplish so many tasks as efficiently as we did. But we had been working together all year [at The Academy] so we already developed a very efficient work flow together and knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

During the latter half of the internship, Reed, Stern and Bowie were able to work on a 360-degree video shoot that was their own project. They had to familiarize themselves with areas of business to find cameras, rent out a location and build a crew.

“It was great because we got to really experience the full spectrum of what it takes to actually produce something,” Reed said.

In addition to the resourcefulness of operating in a small setting, Reed believes the combination of knowledge about recent technologies with ways to communicate in professional settings made him more confident about working in a creative field.

“We were able to talk to any of these creative individuals, and we knew about what softwares they were using and we could communicate with them . . . we’ve had so many guest speakers that it didn’t feel unnatural at all to present work we had created that we felt proud of,” he said.

Reed advised those looking for their first internship in college to experiment with something they’re passionate about, not to take an internship just to have one. After that, it’s about making the most of the opportunity.

“Having connections or knowing people at the place you’re interning is pretty important so you can actually get involved and sink your teeth into some work,” Reed said.